Malayali food is famous all around the country for its unique concoctions like the infamous beef fry and Malabar Parotha, especially in Bangalore. Bangalore has a range of Kerala-based restaurants serving the masses in the city, but to serve the masses restaurants also have to introduce changes that will accommodate the city folk.
Chef Regi Mathew of Kappa Chakka Kandhari, one of the most seasoned chefs having opened more than 100 kitchens from scratch, says the two key challenges today for a Kerala restaurant outside Kerala are ingredients and human resources. “Be it pre-pandemic or post-pandemic, the customer expectation remains the same- quality. We at Kappa Chakka Kandhari(KCK) give uttermost importance to the quality in both Chennai and Bengaluru outlets”, says Regi. He also adds that KCK follows equal standards for both their outlets despite the target audience is different. “We aim at giving quality foods. We do not want to target any one ethnic group or any segment. Whoever enters our restaurant is our guest, be it Keralite or a non-Keralite.”
Kerala is infamous in the south of the country for its different tastes and palettes but these different combination of tastes that are unique to the state should be popularized as people outside the state should also get to learn about the unique diversity of the region through its food.
Mr. Bipin Venugopal, Co-owner at Salt Mango Tree, Bengaluru added to this, “Salt Mango Tree has now been in work for almost 8 years now. On growing possibilities for Kerala cuisine, we have observed that Globalisation has become localization. Kerala food is highly specific to one region of the country but still has so many dishes that echo with everyone like Sadya which has around 24-25 items being served but it still is a very balanced and nutritious meal. Kerala food also has a very prominent seafood and meat culture as you move across to the coastal region. There is the infamous Thalassery Biryani also which has been propelled to the world stage now and is unforgettable. Kerala food is largely cooked in coconut oil but since not everyone prefers it we use sunflower oil according to their demand.”
Mr. Anup Singh Co-owner of Salt Mango Tree said, “We believe in making sure that we introduce the beauty of Kerala food to the outside world. Families, nowadays when they want to go out only think of cuisines like Italian, Japanese, etc, no one thinks of Kerala food as an option and this is precisely what we aim to change. We believe in authenticity being the future. Customers who are non-Keralites have given the most positive response to our food which is exactly our motive.”
Salt Mango Tree is known for its Food festivals as it organizes Thattukada – Kerala Street Food Festival, Onam Sadya (Onam Feast), Vishu Sadya (Vishu Feast), Seafood Festival, etc through the year.
The Malabar region of the Kerala is known for its seafood and is particularly famous in Bangalore. Bangalore is however, far from the coast and the seafood is not available in abundance in the city. The restaurants have to source the ingredients from faraway regions which can pose itself as a hiccup in their daily processes.
Mr. Suresh Kurup, the Manager of Kuttanad restaurant commented on this, “Malayali food has a lot of seafood items in it. Since Bangalore does not have a fresh seafood supply, we have to wait for shipments from Mangalore and Vishakhapatnam, which takes a lot of time. Kerala food is also not the spiciest, there are a lot of sweet elements in it. In order to cater to non-Malayalis, especially Kannadigas and Andhra people, in Bangalore we have made our dishes like Fish Curry a bit spicier.”
Jithesh G Nair, who manages the Kumarakom restaurant in Bengaluru, “Procurement of products plays a major role in the success of the restaurants. We always provide fresh products to our customers. Be it seafood or vegetables, we have the highest standards and we ensure to get the right product at the right time and in my experience, I feel that if we give good food, customers will support us”, he said. Jithesh, on his advice to Malayali restaurants that do not have access to nearby seashores, “To frame a progressive policy for procurements of products like fish and try to keep the health of the guests in mind”. Kumarakom is one of the leading names in the restaurant space in Bengaluru and also provides Sadhya meals on weekends.
Mr. Binoy, Owner of Muthashy’s, commented on the same, “Since we serve a large customer base and not just Malayalis, we have observed that not everyone prefers coconut oil, so we prefer not to use coconut oil in dishes based on paneer, etc, but we still use coconut oil in Kerala dishes to preserve its authenticity. Another change is that instead of Kerala rice we use other kinds of rice like Arwa rice to cater to Bangalore’s customer base. During breeding time, we face problems in procuring fish as Kerala food is governed by seafood and our specialty is also the same. Our food has hints of spicy elements that customers sometimes can mind but overall it is a success.”
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