In a NUtshell:
Memorable food experience – Here we were were eating awesome chettinad chicken and other local chettinad dishes , on a banana leaf, Inside a 100+ years old chettiar mansion in chettinad region of Tamil Nadu
Address & other details: chidambara vilas
Meal for 2: ₹1000 per person set menu or ala carte
Cuisine type : vegetarian and non vegetarian
Disclaimer: All restaurants / eateries reviewed by YUMMRAJ were visited by YUMMRAJ himself & he has paid for the full Bill & tips also. http://www.yummraj.com does not have even one featured / sponsored reviews.
We paid along with hotel bill for stay. So no restaurant bill available to publish here
YUMMRAJ believes in going to a restaurant in anonymity, as a normal guest, experience everything & give a honest account of the same to you.
I rate all the food items & then give a final overall rating which is a simple average of the individual item ratings. What the ratings stand for: 5 = Excellent, 4 = Very Good, 3 = Good, 2 = Fair, 1 = Disaster
Short description- in case u r in a hurry
For the uninitiated, chettiars are a community who were based out of Tamil Nadu for last few centuries. They were professional bankers those days and used to be VCs as well. They pooled their money , lent them, got back the return and redistributed the profits. They were doing business as far as Sri Lanka, Burma, Vietnam, Cambodia and other parts of Far east Asia.
Chettiars made a lot of money and in general were an affluent group. There were some 70 chettiar villages with an approx 100 mansions in each, in the heydays. The mansions were one of its kind, built with a fusion of western imported objects and Indian sensibilities. Vividly colourful, intricacies in every nook and corner and mammoth sizes characterise Most Of these mansions.
Today approx 25% Of these mansions are in decay and the rest are in good condition. Most families do not live here any more – they have spread around the world but they come back during festivities and other occasions. A few of these have been converted to beautiful heritage hotels. We happened to stay in one of them – chidambara vilas.
We had all our meals in the mansion – 2 lunches, 1 dinner and 1 breakfast. I was amazed how there was almost no repeat.
The food was home like and not like the so called ‘chettinad’ named insanely hot and bombarded with spices curries that r served all over india. It took us a bit to understand the reason and once I did, it was obvious. The hotel has a professional trained chef but the people who cook everyday are village women who come here everyday and cook what they would have cooked at home!!
The good news is that people can just walk in for a meal as well, without booking a room. The only catch is that the meal needs to be booked a day in advance.
Detailed description – in case u hv the time to njoy reading:
Lunch day 1
Lunch was served on the banana leaf one after other, as much as one would want. Here guests were sitting on chairs along table side by side.
Lentil soup in a metal cup was a nice and flavourful thin soup with flavours of moringa leaves and dal. Rate it 4/5
Red rice pudding was served at first and we were asked to eat it first as per tradition. It was similar to red rice dessert we had from north east india , yet different. It was like a payasam without milk. Perfect texture of rice – soft enough to b enjoyable and firm enough to be retaining the shape. Sticky in nature. Rate it 4.75/5
Next was coconut rice. This was very very coconutty, the rice was independent and soft. Urad dal and Jeera tempering added spice ….rate it 4/5
Seer fish fry was crispy outside and juicy and flaky within. Loved the spicing in the marination and the superb taste of the fish. Rate it 4.5/5
Dry Palak subzi had grated coconut and daal in it. It retained the intensity of Palak. Loved it and rate it 4.25/5
Cabbage with chana daal and coconut was was good to taste ….. as good as it can get with humble cabbage. Rate it 3.75/5
Jackfruit curry was also dry and very simple yet YUMM. Loved the texture play. Rate it 4/5
Bhindi with white beans was excellent to taste. This combination was quite unique to us. We were told that this is a common vegetable eaten in chettinad region. Superb. Rate it 4.5/5
After this, we were served daal on top of steamed rice. A spoon of liquid ghee was also poured on top. The daal was tempered with curry leaf , in addition to turmeric and salt being added. Rate it4.5/5
A crispy flat vada made from daal was very nice to munch on. Rate it 4.25/5
Yam fry was curious too. Rate it 4.25/5
We were bowled over by mango pachidi – thick , tangy, pulpy and just too good to taste. Rate it 4.75/5
Then came the world famous chettinad chicken. If it is known to the whole world as being fiery, thick gravy, South Indian hot and spicy dish with spices hitting you on the face, then this was nothing like that. It broke all the myths. Here we were were eating chettinad chicken with rice , on a banana leaf, Inside a 100+ years old chettiar mansion in chettinad region of Tamil Nadu …… and we were in heaven
The curry was simple, not pretentious, black pepper and coconut made its presence felt along with other spices. The spices were so well cooked and yet the gravy had a danedaar texture. Balance of taste was perfect. The chicken pieces were just right. They had used small sized birds and that made a difference…… a culinary memory got created. Rate it 4.95/5
We were also served fish curry. In post chettinad chicken excitement, I forgot to click pics. The curry had a thin but strong gravy that had flavors of both fish and spices. Loved the tanginess of the gravy. Fish was again seer. Rate it 4.75/5.
For dessert we were served payasam. Wow. Milk, jaggery and moong daal were the ingredients- we cud feel the texture of daal. Loved it and rate it 4.5/5
Overall rating of day 1 lunch averages out to 4.4/5
It happened to be Christmas Eve when we had dinner. So unlike other dinners there was turkey for dinner. Later we got to know that chef from Trichy was brought in to oversee this and other dishes.
Dinner was a buffet . It had mainly local dishes except a few staple North Indian dishes
Natu kozi Charu was a nice thin soup made from country chicken. There were no meat pieces in the soup but the flavors of country chicken meat were prominent in addition to that of spices. Refreshing. Rate it 4.25/5
Curd rice was tangy and soul satisfying. Rate it 4/5
Sambar was excellent- no spices on the face, no extra chilly, no oil floating around – rather a simple flavourful daal based thin liquid full of veggies. Loved this a lot. Had two helpings , second one just like that. Rate it 4.5/5
Lemon idiappam was very nice to taste. Light yellow Infoline, this idiappam had a strong lemon flavor. Rate it 4/5.
Mango daal was outstanding- tangy, medium thick, texture of daal cud b felt and also the raw mango pieces. Rate it 4.5/5
Chettinad veg curry was a very simple mixed vegetable curry that was just too good. Home like, with local spices. The veggies retained their individual texture and there was a little gravy in the dish. RAte it 4.5/5
Chettinad veg biryani reminded us of Tehri – the vegetables and rice dish eaten in UP and Bihar, of course with different flavors. Once again, simple, home like and nice. Rate it 4/5
Kara paniyaram was good but a bit more burnt than ideal. Have had better at the likes of Murugan idly of chennai. Still it was very good on its own. Rate it 4/5
Roasted turkey with cranberry sauce was very good and totAlly unexpected, in that rural location. Kudos to the thought and the effort. The roasted turkey was excellent – juicy, meaty, soft and nice. The person slicing it did not end up slicing each piece in a way that meat and fat both come in same proportion. That led to few pieces having only fat and few only meat. Rate it 4.5/5
Aachi meen varuval was a dish that was freshly prepared and served from the kitchen. Nice fish but we did not end up liking the outer green cover as much. The fish was juicy, flaky and nice. Rate it 3/5
Mutton Kuzhambu was a rock star. Once again, it had a whole lot of spices that made its presence felt but the spices were not on the face. The curry was hot and super enjoyable. The seasoning was absolutely right and the balance of salt, chilly and sour was perfect. Every bite was a feeling of ecstasy. We polished off the gravy till the last drop. Loved the super YUMM mutton pieces – they had used small goats. Rate the dish 4.95/5.
Pal polukattai was a marvel again. It was almost the same payasam as the lunch but with hand made dumplings in them. The dumplings balanced the sweetness even better than the one we had for lunch. The jaggery flavor was very enjoyable. Rate it 4.95/5
Pumpkin halwa was made from grated pumpkin – the texture of the pumpkin was felt due to the lumpy texture. Unlike some North Indian halwas, this halwa was not over sweet , did not have a strong mawa texture and was not floating in ghee. Rate it 4.5/5
Overall rating of food at dinner averaged out to 4.3/5
Breakfast buffet had usual things like fruits, corn flakes, bread, butter, jam, omelet etc. I am not covering them in this review.
We were told that we should start with red rice (Kaveni rice) paniyaram. It was a sweet paniyaram. Just loved its sticky feel and the softness in addition to the taste. Rate it 4.5/5
Vellai paniyaram was another form of paniyaram that was flat in shape and somewhat flat in taste too. We were told that this is eaten with chutneys. Rate it 3/5
Adai was a very interesting savoury pancake with spices in it. Loved munching on these. Rate it 3/5
Podi dosa was outstanding. The guy serving us insisted hard and it was worth trying. Crisp, enjoyable dosa with a layer of Podi (a spicy powder, not so hot). We were just floored with the texture of the dosa, the slightly fermented feel of the batter, the taste overall. Rate it 4.95/5
Brinjal chutney was given in addition to the regular ones. This was new to us. Super loved the smooth, thick chutney with strong flavors of brinjals. Rate it 4.75/5
Overall rating of food at chidambara Vilas breakfast averages out to 4/5
Lunch day 2
We went to lunch on day 2 expecting it to be slightly different than day 1. It turned out to be 90%+ different from the other one
We started with carrot soup. The soup retained its carrot taste inspite of presence of other spices. Quite refreshing. Rate it 4/5
We were first served as Starter, white rice Payasam. It was thick, soft and very good to taste. Rate it 3.5/5
Lemon rice was very nice. Flavors of lemon were very well expressed. Rate it 4/5
Snake Gourd curry was a marvel. The gourd retained its sharp green color and also its medium crunchy texture. Grated Coconut added to the texture and flavours. Super loved the curry and rate it 4.95/5
Bottle gourd curry with chana daal was very good. Simple, home like and very enjoyable. Rate it 4.25/5
Yam curry was another marvel. It was like a bharta (mashed) cooked with spices and seasoning. I hv never had anything so good made from yam. Great stuff. RAte ig 4.95/5
Beetroot curry was excellent as well. The veggies were crunchy and had intense taste and natural flavors. Rate it 4.75/5
Marinated Potato fry was curious to eat. Very good. Rate it 4/5
Chicken chukka was a dry preparation of chicken which was quite hot but enjoyable. One of those dishes where you are constantly reaching out for water due to chillies but can’t stop eating. Rate it 4.75/5.
Fish curry served on the second day lunch was nice and flavourful. Fish flavours were full bodied and so were spice flavors, in the gravy. Loved the robust gravy. Rate it 4.5/5
Crab masala was extremely ‘masaledar’ and high on chillies. Crab meat was fresh and excellent. Unexpected, just unbeatable. Rate it 4.75/5
Rawa Payasam was a runny sort of Payasam made with milk and jaggery. The sweetness was tad higher than our liking. But good otherwise. Rate it 4.25/5.
Overall rating of food at lunch day 2 averages out to 4.4/5
Overall rating of food at chidambara Vilas averages out to 4.3/5
Look forward to re love this lovely memory