By Sujith Mohandas (L&T MHPS)
Once a friend of mine asked me to take him to a place where we can have authentic Kerala cuisine. That moment I realized I have never been to a restaurant in Delhi NCR where we would get authentic Kerala food. So my quest started to search for a Kerala Restaurant where I can take my friends no matter which part of India or abroad they belonged. My quest ended when one of my Tamil friend recommended me a restaurant called Mahabelly.
The name itself is derived from the benevolent king Mahabali, whose return to the motherland is celebrated wholeheartedly in Kerala and elsewhere as Onam, the extravagant festival which is celebrated by people belonging to all communities with utmost happiness and enthusiasm. Located in DLF place mall Saket New Delhi just opposite to car parking entry of the mall, has interiors which will make you feel as if you have just entered a cultural canteen in Kerala. The restaurant is located a bit oddly, so you may have to search for it a bit.
As soon as you enter the restaurant, you can see a fine dining arrangement with a painting of Kathakali dancer on one side of the wall and on the other side of the wall some favourite line and phrases which Malayali’s use in movies as well as real life and indeed they are hilarious. If you just look at the side of the Kathakali dancer painted wall, you can find Netti Patta (Fore Head Band) which are used to decorate elephant’s head during festivals in Kerala.
Idiyappam(Steamed string hoppers ) Malabar Parotta with Chicken Curry
As soon as you open the menu, you will find a very colorful and humorous food content which will bring a smile to your face. Do check out the bar menu, the words and phrases used are hilarious (Non Malayali can take help of their Malayali friends). For starters there are variety of food available like mulagu (chilly) fried idli, Gobi 65(a must try), veg or non veg Kuthu Parotta (different from north Indian Parantha), fish fry (my favorite) and many more.
Puttu(Steamed cylinder of ground rice layered with coconut) Appam with Vegetable Stew
For vegetarians amigos I would recommend vegetable stew with appam and for non-vegetarian amigos chicken stew with appam as a starting point in Main course. Vegetarian dishes in main course like Nadaan (Desi) Paneer Masala, Pacha (Raw) Mango Curry, Mushroom Mapas (spicy curry), and Kadala (Black Chana) Curry are just one of the many sumptuous meal. For Non Vegetarians stew, curry and roast are available in a variety of meat. Traditional staple accompaniments like Idiyappam(Steamed string hoppers), Puttu(Steamed cylinder of ground rice layered with coconut), Kappa(Boiled and mashed tapioca cooked with coarse coconut paste, and Malabar parotta will spoil your taste buds along with main course.
Karimeen Pollichathu(Traditional Fish Fry) Kerala Traditional Chicken Curry
If you are a big fan of sea food then you are the right place my friend. Shappu(Malayalam name for traditional bar) meen curry(don’t worry its nonalcoholic) is a hidden gem along with Alleppey(name of a place in Kerala, land of backwaters) fish curry and fish moiley(Kerala traditional fish). Do try out the traditional and exotic beverages like chukka kappi(dried ginger coffee), tender coconut water, Sharjah shake(all-time favorite) and sulaimani chai(Malabar spiced tea). A full bar menu is available along with spicy delight.
Mahabelly, in short, is a restaurant which will take you to the land of spices, make you accustomed with local Kerala food and may even make you want to take a trip to Kerala within a reasonable rate(Rs. 1200 for two without alcohol). However do make reservations earlier as the place has a limited seating capacity of around 40-50 people. Don’t worry about the Malayali names of the dish as the menu has full description of the dishes in English and if still, you feel sceptical then have a Malayali acquaintance in company for best dish recommendations.