Like the mega movie stars of the region, it's easy to expect a Tamil Nadu feast to be one packed with a lot of drama. Pardon us for being 'filmy', but that's what a massive-sized thali can do to you, especially when you overestimate your appetite for a meal. We were in for a surprise at the ongoing Tamil Nadu food fest in Delhi's popular restaurant Chor Bizarre. The restaurant, which is known to showcase regional cuisines from across India through specially crafted menus from time to time, newly introduced Tamil Nadu On A Plate in an attempt to offer traditional delicacies from the South Indian state. Presented in the form of a silver thali, the team of chefs makes an earnest effort to keep the authenticity of each dish that they have learnt and mastered from experts from Tamil Nadu.
Our weekend lunch at the beautifully decorated Chor Bizarre began with classic cocktails from the bar - a martini and a daiquiri, while we scrolled through the menu that had 20 dishes each under vegetarian and non-vegetarian (including accompaniments). Needless to say that we were all upbeat for the feast to follow. And soon enough our grand silver thalis were laid on our table.
Being fond of seafood, the starter was just what I had wished for - Poricha Meen. Many holidays in Chennai were spent relishing spicy rava-fried seer fish in local eateries and this matched up to expectations. The masala mix of chilli and tamarind made it lip-smacking good, and I further smeared it with a side of tomato and garlic chutney. Next was another favourite - Mutton Chukka with its peppery goodness. Chor Bizarre's version came with cashews too, which I thought added a nice bite along with the ground coconut spice mix.
Moving on to the mains, I had to begin with steamed rice and sambar with a sprinkling of spicy podi on top. A classic! Delicious accompaniments can add so much flavour to a meal, and there was a good spread other than podi - crispy papad, spiced sauteed corns, peppery rasam, mango pickle, cucumber pachadi and curd chilli.
A simple, home-style chicken curry is truly soul-nourishing, and Karaikudi Kozhi Curry, with its delightful mix of spices adding to its flavour and aroma, is much-loved. Chor Bizarre's version too had all the right notes and I relished it with hot, crispy and flaky parottas. Fish curry and rice had to follow next, and Meen Kolombu was immensely satisfying with its tamarind tang and coconut milk creaminess.
The Dindigul Mutton Biryani was made with short grain Jeera Samba rice and had subtle spicing. Unfortunately, it didn't make an impression on me as well as the buttermilk, where I felt the coriander flavour overpowered the main ingredient. The ultimate comfort food Curd Rice wasn't my favourite either, as I would have preferred mine without short grain rice, which made it rather grainy.
Making up for it were the desserts that were done to perfection - Payasam and Sugar Cane Halwa. I particularly loved the halwa for its malty flavour and the goodness of ghee and nuts adding to its richness.
With that our meal finally came to an end and the tour of Tamil Nadu on a plate.
Price: Veg Thali costs INR 1,250 and Non Veg thali costs INR 1,450