In a nutshell –
Loved the overall dining experience at Amaranta including the splendid food – contemporary take on traditional food from 9 coastal states of India.
Address & other details: Amaranta
Meal for 2: Rs. 5000 onwards
Cuisine type : Vegetarian & nonvegetarian
Short Description – In case u r in a Hurry:
Amaranta is an Indian Coastal food specialty restaurant that serves food with traditional flavours that r presented in contemporary style. The Coastal Grill & curry buffet that we went for, had food from 9 coastal states of India including Kerala, Goa, Bengal, Andhra & Tamil Nadu.
The overall experience at this place was splendid – starting from the entance to the Oberoi where the security person was waving his hands to guide our car exactly like aeroplanes r shown the parking space, the walk to the restaurant beside the beautiful pool, the outstanding hospitality of the people & of course great food – This overall experience was far superior to our experience at Dakshin (Welcomegroup restaurant specializing in South Indian Food), Saket few months back.
The only letdown was – The menu card for the buffet says ‘ The journey along the culinary coast halts at each one of the 9 states offering fresh fish, Prawns & crabs’. However, in the whole of our brunch, we did not even smell crab – leave apart getting to eat them. Instead what we got was chicken!!!! I did not know till then that chicken was a catch of the ocean!!!! Lamb was also a part of the ‘Amaranta Coastal Grill & curry brunch!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The most interesting thing at the restaurant is that there is a beautiful aquarium right at the entrance. The transparent flower vase on each table had a small live fish that was swimming around!!!
What looked like a seafood buffet turned out to be a splendid work of art – the seafood pieces in the food / the quantity we ate was of no relevance anymore coz the sheer imagination & execution of this whole concept was beyond my imagination. How cud a humble paniyaram be converted into a special dish with which to start a 2 hour long culinary journey!!!
Detailed Description – In case u have the time to njoy reading:
Part 1 – starters, salads & soups
As we sat for our brunch, we were served 3 chutneys – A green chutney, a coconut based orange chutney & a tamarind ginger chutney. Each was unique & one of its kind. The coconut one had very less salt & so we asked for salt.
What came instead was a platter of sea salts, flavoured with chilly, curry leaves & tamarind!!! A small puny mixing bowl was given to mix the salt on a base of olive oil. as they say – little things make a lot of difference & let me tell u, this gesture surely did.
We started our mammoth brunch with strawberry panakam, mango paniyaram & pickled melon. This was served in a very contemporary fashion – a paniyaram kept on a stone flatplate, a splash of green chutney on the space beside & panakam in a shot glass.
Panakam (a take on traditional soft drink) was served in a shot glass & was excellent. It had an interesting combination of jaggery, strawberry & some spices. The flavours of strawberry were overshadowed by that of jaggery but the overall punch attracted me a lot. I wud give this a 4/5.
Mango Paniyaram was super duper good – warm , soft, flavours of paniyaram & that of mango. I wud give this a 4.5/5.
Pickled melon was good but I did not really get the ‘pickled’ part. I wud give this a 3/5.
Post this came a host of Indian breads / Breads with Indian chutneys like ginger & tamarind chutney, coriander & lentil chutney, onion chutney etc. Interesting.
In the vegetarian Grill section, there was posto crusted cottage cheese & corn & curry leaf tikka. We opted for the nonvegetarian grill section – Crisp fried Karwari shrimps & xacuti chicken skewers.
Xacuti Chicken skewers were awesome – coming from me, a guy who keeps away from chicken in general!!! The skewer was in the form of a Malaysian satay, with xacuti flavours. Perfect tenderness, authentic taste & wow taste. I give this a 4.5/5.
Crisp fried Karwari shrimps were excellent – As the name suggests, the shrimps were crisp. Flavors were strong, quite rustic & superb to taste. I wud give this a 4.25/5.
The item post this was a real surprise – Pumpkin & ginger soup. Served in a very curious cup, this was a dish in which I had lowest expectation & it turned out to b really different & outstanding. Thick, flavours of pumpkin & that of ginger were playing hide & seek – peeping in & out alternatively. Ooh!!A straight 4.5/5 to this one.
The next section was that of salads & chilled appetizers. The vegetarian items on offer were coconut khandvi, lentil dahi vada & dhokhla & coriander chutney sandwich. None of the above however sounded as exciting / adventurous as the nonvegetarian options – Chicken kishmoor chaat, mustard marinated smoked fish & lamb cutlet chaat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Chicken Kishmoor chaat was a bit goofed up due to inadequacy of salt. On addition of our sea salt mix, it came up to life. Since half of the small portion went in without adequate salt, I did not quite understand the dish. I give this a 2.5/5.
Mustard Marinated Smoked Fish was absurdly good – This was so different conceptually from all fish I have had in my life. Strong flavors & pungency of mustard, taste of good fillet of mustard fish. I rate this 4.5/5.
Lamb Cutlet chaat was a small cutlet of minced lamb topped with dahi & curry leaves. Taste was good but not outstanding. However, I laud the sheer stretch of imagination. Flavors within were very interesting as well. I give this a 3.5/5.
Post all these items came the main course. To accompany the main course, a papad selection was the first to reach the table, soon to be followed by a pickle selection.
There were 3 kinds of pickles – Green chilli pickle, Raw papaya relish & ‘homemade’ shrimp pickle!!! The third one was entirely new to me & was quite interesting.
The vegetarian main course options were Guthi Vonkaya Kuya, chettinad vegetable curry, chenar muthia & lemon rice. For the nonvegetarian main course options there were Macher Jhol, Kori Gassi, Madras lamb curry & Thalasseri Prawn Biryani.
The macher jhol (fish in thin gravy) was a slick version of the one that is made at Bengali homes almost everyday. There are maybe hundreds of versions of this & every family has their version – but there is something common as well e.g. the jeera phorun, ginger paste, the simplicity of the ingredients etc. The flavours were beyond perfect, the jhol (gravy) was slightly thicker than the home variety but very enjoyable – to the extent that I drank the jhol to the last drop. The fish piece was obviously not a fish with bone (as it is traditionally) but boneless fish fillets so that the eating does not get messy. Aubergines & potato accompanied the fish & the taste & flavour of aubergine also had a significant impact on the jhol. An unmatched 4.5/5 on this.
Kori Gassi was a Mangalorean chicken curry. This turned out to be spicy & hot but to an enjoyable level. Chicken is usually not one of my favourites but this one was just too good. I wud give this a 4.25/5.
Madras Lamb curry had boneless pieces of mutton that were very well done. The flavours of Curry leaves were pretty distinct. The salt was penultimate in this dish. A tiny bit of salt dramatically changed the taste but cud not really take it to the stellar level of some of the other dishes. I wud give this a 3.5/5.
THALASSERI Prawn Biryani was again awesome. I am usually wary of misuse of the term Biryani but this one was worth the while. Short fat morsels of rice bound in a yellow stock with amazing flavours of spices & of the prawn. One of the best prawn rice combo I have had in many months I must say. I rate this 4.5/5.
All this was accompanied with an excellent creamy & tasty North Malabar Vegetable stew. The French beans were in perfect texture inspite of being curried – crisp. I rate this a 4/5
Khatti meethi Daal was a sweet n sour daal – The sweet part was much less than the sour part – Loved it. I give this a 4.25/5
Accompaniments were super layered Malabar parota & a freshly made mini dosa. These were good. I wud say 3/5.
We were also bowled over by some unbelievably soft & outstanding sannas. I wud rate this 4.5/5.
After that mammoth main course came what they termed ‘pre dessert’ – started with chocolate mini utthapams!!!! Real mini salty utthapams with semi sweet chocolate chips in them!!! I wud not order this in an alacarte but this was surely very interesting conceptually for a dessert & of course tasted very good. I wud give this a 4.25/5
For dessert came Chef’s special dessert sampler – for us it was a sandesh & a rosogolla. Both were, I guess refrigerated & were brittle. I shud say these were the lowest point of the whole brunch (on a relative scale) coz these were ordinary & others were very good to excellent. Balaram Mullick & Radharaman Mullick / Girish Chandra Dey & Nakur Chandra Nandy / Nalin Chandra Das or even Gupta Brothers of Kolkata wud do a much better job than this. This I wud say is 2.75/5.
The last item that we tried was a ice cream sampler with flavors of Paan , Gulkand & Payasam. The paan ice cream was the most robust in taste & flavour. Gulkand was pretty mellowed down but it had captured the flavours well. The stunning item was the payasam ice cream – It perfectly had the flavours & taste of payasam without having the actual ingredients. That was a wow. The paan one gets a 4.25/4, the payasam gets a 4/5 & the gulkand gets a 3.5/5.
We washed this all down with citrus mocktail that did a pretty good job of palate cleanser. I give this a 4.25/5 due to its sheer balance of temperature, taste & flavors.
Post our Brunch we were served South Indian filter Coffee with 3 different cookies. We cud have only 1 due to lack of space but it was par excellence – such good Intense chocolate with such a perfect texture that is seldom found in India.
Rating for food at Amaranta adds up to 4.1/5 (simple average) with loads of items scoring 4.25 & 4.5. That is a helluva score for a brunch / buffet with so many items.
……………………. & after all that food we somehow managed to roll out of the restaurant.:) , with memory of a very good time spent with some really good food in a nice environment with excellent hosts.
To summarize – If u r a hardcore foodie u wud love this place. If u r a hardcore meat/seafood eater, this might not attract as much – coz it is not about the meats & seafood but about the tastes & flavors. If u wanna give a taste of Indian food to a non Indian guest / NRI friend beyond Tandoori chicken this place is recommended.