Kappa chakka kandhari (Haddows Rd, opp. Shastri Bhavan, Thousand Lights West, Nungambakkam, Chennai, Tamil Nadu)

In a NUtshell

A restaurant who is serious about offering the best, ‘almost’ home food, from different parts of kerala, way beyond the obvious items on the menu. Great service, nice interiors.

If u r in chennai & not been here, u have really missed something

Address & other details: kappa chakka kandhari

Meal for 2: ₹1300 onwards

Cuisine type : vegetarian & 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. 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

We got to know of this restaurant from an article by Vir Sanghvi. What he had mentioned in the article made us interested to visit the restaurant.

Kappa means tapioca, chakka means jackfruit & Kandhari means chilly – a vegetable, a fruit & a spice…. the restaurant does not serve many things that a usual Kerala restaurant does. They serve dishes that are made & eaten at homes & not the ones that were born in commercial establishments. They however cover items from the toddy shops of Kerala.

The restaurant has a huge facade, amply visible from the road in front.

There are 7-8 car parking in front.

The entrance to the restaurant is thru a sidewalk on the side of the building.

The dining hall is large & has table & bench seating. Food is the most important topic here – eat good food & go. this is not a place to chill ……. that gets clear seeing the furniture.

There are few bar stools & a high table as well.

The plain walls are covered with huge paintings.

On one side of the dining hall is the see thru kitchen – separated by glass. Interesting pots & set ups can be seen thru the glass – like the one in which ramassery idli is made.

The bowls & plates were super interesting & so were the water bottles.

The menu options are – set menus or one pot meal menus. PDF of menu card is WhatsApped to the customer at the time of booking a table, to minimise time for order placing.

The menu card is detailed & it’s easy to understand, for those new to the cuisine.

One can buy desserts, drinks & few items ‘a la carte’. The main meal is compulsorily 1 per person. The set meals have unlimited refills.

We asked if we can pack some food for dinner. We were told that they don’t pack food for take away. They said they could pack biryanis though. However while we were dining, we saw a guy take away paper bags full of packed food. I have no idea what was that.

Service was outstanding. The boys fed us as if we were special guests at their home. The balance of warmth & professionalism was outstanding. They understood that we did not grow up eating this cuisine – so they kept talking to us, explaining, asking for feedback etc. Its rare to get a breed of boys like this any more.

What’s interesting is that the staff make it a point to educate the guests (who have not grown up eating this cuisine) on the sequence of dishes, the pairing of cereal with the corresponding curry etc.

Food was very enjoyable in general. It is like eating at someone’s house (with great culinary standards), & being able to pay for it. Great for people who do not have friends & family that fit into the above description of the hosts.

The food was not like any other commercial food – no flowing oil, no mindless chillies, no partially cooked spice powders, many things slow cooked as per tradition – in short there seemed to be few / no shortcuts. Flavors celebrated the main ingredients. Textures had been carefully given attention to. The food was not heavy at all (unlike many commercial eateries). In short – the food felt like eating at a friends house, who happens to be a great cook.

Detailed description – in case u hv the time to njoy reading:

We decided to try one vegetarian & one non vegetarian meal & then share it between two of us. That was of course allowed as we did not want any repeats of anything.

From vegetarian section we ordered a set menu called monsoon magic.

Choice of one beverage

We chose passion fruit juice based on strong recommendation by the boy who was serving us.

It was a lovely balance of Tart & sweet. It was thick & had a very fruity pulpy texture . Rate it 4.5/5.

Starters

Mushroom pothi – this was Mushrooms & grated coconut cooked with spices inside a banana leaf. The menu card mentioned ‘Flavored with kodampuli.’ This name was new to us. So googled to find that it was Malabar tamarind – added as a souring agent.

The Mushrooms were ok (as good as a normal mushroom can get) but the magic lied in the shredded coconut. It was simple outstanding – the texture, the spiced coconut juices that were oozing into the mouth with every bite, the perfect balance of taste, the flavor of cooking in banana leaf. Too good. Rate it 4.5/5

Kadala roast was black chana cooked with spices & coconut slivers. For non Keralites like us, we have had puttu kadala combos in the past. This kadala was served just on its own. It was mild flavored (spices were not on the face but made their presence felt) , perfectly soft (not too soft, not too less) & very good. Home like. Rate it 4.5/5

Vazhappoo cutlet was crumb fried banana flower cutlet. Most other banana flower dishes we have had so far in southern india (restaurants), the taste & textures had been overpowered by the spices & chillies. This was the first time we ate a banana flower dish that celebrated the texture of the banana flower & its taste. Loved it. Rate it 4.5/5

Chena fry – very interesting slow cooked yam & spices. It had an aftertaste of chillies, an excellent balance of taste. The texture was very good. Full cloves of garlic gave ample flavor to the simple dish. Rate it 4.75/5

Beetroot chutney was crazy good. The wild smell of beetroot was gone but the flavors of beetroot had been retained in this super smooth, perfectly balanced sweetish chutney. Rate it 4.95/5

Pineapple nendram masala was a chutney made from pineapple & nendram bananas. Absolutely new for us. Loved the combination. Both the fruits gave space to each other & yet made their presence felt. Super couple…. rate it 4.75/5

Mains

We started with Vattyappam & vendakkai mappas

Vattyappam was Steamed, round, fermented rice cake that was slightly sweet, brittle on the outside & soft in the center. Nice to taste as it is. This came paired with the mappas. Rate the vattyappam 4/5

Vendakkai mappas was Okra cooked in coconut milk & coriander. The okra retained its texture well. The gravy was thick & good to taste. Rate it 3/5

Ramassery idly with sambar & chutney powder came next.

This was a very different kind of idly, from a place called ramassery, near palakkad. Large in size, super soft, fermented feel, enjoyable as it is too – just too good. Cud not stop wanting to eat more of this. Crazy good. Rate it 4.95/5

The Sambhar was absolutely home like – thick daal (of course cooked from scratch unlike powdered masala used in most commercial establishments) cooked with lots of vegetables. Loved the texture, taste & the flavors. Rate it 4.5/5

Chutney powder was excellent, inspite of the fact that we messed up a bit – we did not mix it properly – so the idly soaked up the tiny layer of oil on top. Rate it 4.75/5

Dessert we had a choice from a separate menu.

We chose payaru payasam as we had fond memories of this from some of the meals we have had at mumbai.

The payasam was A bit too sweet for our liking but who are we to comment on the sweetness level acceptable in a cuisine. The flavors of gur were optimal. Loved the texture. Rate it 4.25/5

We ordered naduvaazhi from non vegetarian section

Choice of one beverage

We chose a drink called Absolute kandhari (chilly) – a lemon based drink with chillies in it. As expected it was sour, a bit of sweet to balance & a whole lot of chilly aftertaste – like in birds eye chilli. Rate it 4.5/5

Starters

We started with Grilled jumbo prawn. It was Tawa grilled prawn with a marination that seemed familiar. Later We saw it was mentioned in menu card – toddy shops style marination.

The texture of the prawn was perfect. Soft & juicy (most Indian restaurants fail at this), the flavors of prawn were expressed very well inspite of the flavors of spices). Perfect balance of taste. As good as it could get probably. Rate it 4.5/5

Koondal roast was toddy shop style dry roasted calamari rings. We could understand the stark difference of this with what we had the previous day at moonrakers Mahabalipuram. The calamari at moonrakers had excess spices on the face to the extent that flavors of calamari were fighting to raise a hand, they were chewy too. That’s the case in many places.

The koondal roast at KCK was outstanding – super soft calamari rings full of flavors that complimented very well with the spice flavors. Loved the chilly aftertaste. Rate it 4.5/5

Irachi fry was slow cooked tenderloin in toddy shop style spices – loved the spicing. My memory of toddy shop says the one at KCK was less juicy, less soft yet as good in flavors to the toddy shop I had eaten at. Rate it 3/5.

Crumb fried chicken cutlets were excellent – it takes huge caliber to make something so good out of poultry chicken – great flavors, lovely taste. Rate it 4.5/5

Mains

Vatayappam & duck mappas was the first combination.

It was Slow cooked kuttanadan duck in coriander & coconut milk curry. For the uninitiated, Kuttanadan duck is a kind of duck from the alleppey region of Kerala that feeds on the worms, grains of that area. It is not farmed like many other ducks & hence they are always not as soft (if not cooked well) as the farmed ones.

The mappas was essentially the Same gravy as the okra but duck flavors got infused & lifted it. Rate it 4/5 gravy

The duck pieces were outstanding. Unbelievably good. Super soft, full bodied flavors & amazing texture. Rate the Duck 4.95/5

Idiappam & prawn thengapaal curry

This was by far the best idiappam I have ever had – never had at anyone’s home. Always had at restaurants. Firm enough to retain the independence of the strands, soft enough & moist enough to be enjoyable. Rate it 4.95/5

Prawns in coconut milk curry were outstanding. Such a riot of flavors of both prawns & spices. I can take a flight to chennai to eat it once again. The texture of the prawns was perfect – again, not rubbery (like in most curries), just right). Rate it 4.95/5

Thattum muttum was the last dish on the menu. It was Tenderloin & tapioca slow cooked with spices – like a biryani !!!! A totally new dish for us. Loved every bit of it. The meat was super soft & flavorful. The tapioca was firm enough to retain its form but soft enough to be munched in. Rate it 4.5/5

For dessert we chose cloud pudding based on strong recommendation by the boy serving us. It was made from coconut milk. Like the other dessert it was a bit sweeter than my personal preference. Nevertheless it was a work of art – flavors of coconut milk, that perfect texture …. wah . Rate it 4.75/5

We also tried goli soda orange flavor. In Chandni Chowk delhi this is called Banta soda & it is served with a special masala. The goli soda was more like a campa cola of yesteryears. I liked it way more than the sprite orange & Miranda.

Overall rating of food at KCK averages out to 4.52/5

Will I revisit? Of course. I might even take a flight on a weekend in the winter months to eat 4 meals here & get back….. until they open up a restaurant in delhi NCR.

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