So you think South Indian food is just Idli Vada Sambhar? Think again!
There is a common perception or rather a misconception that South Indian food is all vegetarian with Idlis, Vada, Dosas and Sambhar being the primary food of the region. On the contrary South Indian food is as diverse and unique as fare from any other part of India and has a lot more to offer than what is commonly perceived.
South Indians in UAE
More than half of the expat Indian population in UAE come from the southern part of India. In fact the first wave of entrepreneurial Indian immigrants in UAE were originally from the state of Kerala in the south. Yet the cuisine from this region is grossly underrepresented in UAE.
Multifarious cooking styles
The region is vast and so are the flavors, cuisines and preparation styles. In Hyderabad, the capital of the state of Telangana, for instance, one could see an amalgam of Mughal, Turkish, and Arabic cuisine influences. The term “Hyderabadi cuisine” itself usually refers to the style of cooking of Hyderabadi Muslims. Whereas when it comes to Keralite Cuisine, the influence of Christianity is clearly noticeable in the cuisine and food culture. Christians ate all kinds of meat and they established their own cooking methods of stir frying and baking.
The Simply South Menu at Zafran
According to Chef Jithender, the Head Chef of Zafran Bistro “South Indian food is all about flavor. We are trying to change the perception that South Indian food is only Idly, Vada Sambhar, by offering diners a chance to taste some exquisite culinary treats from the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana, Kerala and Andhra. Pradesh.”
Here are some clips of his interview.
Mouth-watering limited edition cuisine conceptualized by a team of Zafran chefs in conjunction with renowned Chef Chalapathi Rao will be available at all Zafran outlets from 20th March to 15th May 2018. Chef Chalapathi, also affectionately called Challu is the founder of the Simply South restaurant chain and the custodian for South Indian Culinary Art in India.
Our visit / The food
We started off with some fresh mocktails.
Apple Cinnamon Twist: A spice twist to the otherwise usual apple juice, it was a delight to sip.
Jal Jeera Soda: a nice blend of mint and lemon with chill soda, it was completely refreshing.
For Starters we went for Tala Gosht, Samosas, Papdi Chat and Spicy Prawns.
Tala Gosht was packed with spices and exuded nice flavor. The masala seemed nicely absorbed into the mutton cubes making it taste lip smacking. I would have loved, if the meat was a tad more tender, but for a starter this dish was perfect.
Samosas were awesome and authentically Indian as ever.
Spicy Prawns was spicy to the perfect level and made for a great appetizer.
Papdi Chat: A nice sweet-tangy entree with sweet youghurt, tamarind, mint chutney and pomegranate. If the other appetizers were spicy, this was a sweet relief to savour in between.
Overall the starters were spot on!
For the main course, I went for the Andhra Kodi Biryani and Kori Ghee Roast while my dining companion selected Kadhai Paneer and Dal Tadka from their regular a la carte menu.
Andhra Kodi Biryani – This was the key highlights of my “Simply South” experience. The Kodi Biryani was remarkable and most probably one of the best-ever Andhra style biryanis I’ve ever tasted. The Biryani was so well prepared that from the moment it arrived on the table, it provoked an eating frenzy and turned out to be a totally rewarding experience for a biryani connoisseur like me. The rice was packed with all the right flavours and spices yet not overdone as many restaurants usually do with Dum biryani. The chicken slices inside were tender and infused with the aroma and spices. Every single mouthful of this dish was utter bliss. I highly recommend this biryani ecstasy for rice lovers.
Kori Butter Roast Chicken roast in creamy, rich and flavorful gravy oozing aroma and taste. It served as a perfect accompaniment for the already awesome Kodi Biryani. It had huge chunks of absolutely delicious and tender chicken floating in non spicy, sweet and thick sauce. It tasted even better with butter naan and lacha paratha.
The Kadhai Paneer gravy was thicker in consistency compared to similar gravies we’d had tasted in other restaurants. The tangy tomato onion masala was quite rich in flavor and taste and made for a delicious side with the Garlic naan.
Just had a few spoons of this famous lentil dish and I just couldn’t get enough of it. It was tempered perfectly with onion, tomato, cumin and garnished with fresh corriander. The flavors were again spot on!
We decided to wash down the spicy indulgence with some desserts.
We went for some of our most favorite sweet dishes from the dessert menu – Rasmalai, Firni and Mango Kulfi
Rasmalai – This delicious and lip-smacking dessert made with homemade cottage cheese was super yummy and has an incredible melt-in-the-mouth texture that left us craving for more!
Firni – Light, creamy and sweet, this chilled rice pudding flavored with saffron and cardamom served as a perfect dessert to sweeten the palates after a after a spicy meal. It was served traditional style in a Matka or mud vessel.
Mango Malai Kulfi – Undoubtedly our favourite dessert on the menu, this classic, creamy, traditional Indian ice cream is actually centuries old and was originally passed down from the Mughal kitchens. It was not the typical kulfi on a stick but a cheesecake shaped frozen dessert layered with homemade ice cream, mango puree and malai(cream). Totally scrumptious and a perfect end to an awesome meal.
If you love south Indian food and want to experience the real flavors and tastes of the region, then you must definitely try “Simply South” menu at Zafran! The flavours are spot-on and authentic, ambiance is chic and service friendly, prompt and pleasant.
Need to know
Cuisine: Indian, South Indian
Where: Zafran Bistro, Mirdif City Centre and Dubai Marina Mall
Hours: Sun to Wed 12 Noon to 11 pm, Thursday to Saturday 12 Noon to 12 Midnight
Atmosphere: Slick and chic, nice comfy seating, large tables, family dining area.
Parking: Mall Parking
Prices: AED 200 for two people (approx.)
Credit cards: Cash, Cards accepted
Sound level: Music
Wheelchair access: Accessible
Recommended: Andhra Kodi Biryani, Kori Roast, Kadhai paneer, rasmalai, mango malai Kulfi
Reservations: 04 2840987(Mirdif City) 04 4498597 (Marina mall)