A Taste of Kerala
Just before passing the Egyptian restaurant that I enjoyed recently, I decided to turn onto a new street. I figured that if I didn’t see anything, I’d head back towards my hotel. On the way I’d grab the always pleasing option of a falafel and salad.
Fortunately, I came across a new restaurant. I saw people that I guessed were probably from the subcontinent. I happily strolled in. While grabbing a table, I said:
“What kind of food do you have?”
The state of Kerala lies as far southwest as you can get in India. While traveling around the cultural intermix of Hindustan last year, I had intended to make it to Kerala. But, as I realized while traveling there, I’d only be able to see a small bit of this grand peninsula. After spending three months on the sultry subcontinent, I felt that I’d barely scratched the surface.
The closest I got to Kerala was Goa, around 1,000 kilometers from this southern most state.
Upon walking into the Kerala food establishment, I was glad that I’d persevered in finding a new restaurant. Since that night of determination, I’ve been back to the Athidhi Restaurant at least five times. I’ve lost count.
There is no menu, the items vary a little bit depending on the night you go. The waiter speaks enough English to tell you what’s on offer.
This bread called Parotta translates to layers of cooked dough. The flaky bread concoction tastes heavenly when dipped into this spicy curry. The cook surely has a flair for packing heat. It’s just the way I like it. This snack was brought to my table the first time I sat down in the restaurant. I didn’t order it. If they guessed that it would provide me with a great first impression of their restaurant, they were right.
Like the curry above, this chili chicken has just the right amount of spice: a lot. While chewing the flesh off of the bone and copious cartilage, wonderful flavor sinks into your teeth and gums. I’ve quickly become a huge fan of South Indian cuisine.
On my most recent visit, last night, this roasted chicken was the featured chicken dish. As it isn’t nearly as spicy as the two above, it’s not my favorite. But, it still has a little bit of spice and a lot of flavor. Wedged between a piece of parotta or blended with a bit of rice, it’s delicious. Like the above chicken curry, it’s moist and juicy. While biting into it, I thought: the chef sure has a knack for chicken.
As I’m not a big beef person, this isn’t my favorite dish; but for meat, it’s still good. This is because it’s cooked to perfection, and immersed in yet another nice sauce. The mixed veg and potato behind the meat is a staple item here and compliments everything well. I think I’d like any type of food that hails from Kerala. In the middle you see the parotta. I stuff my face with so much of it when visiting this place. When you run out, they keep replacing it. To the right of the parotta is chana or chick peas. Behind that is a spicy gravy that adds amazing flavor to a piece of parotta or some rice. In the back center is a small amount of ajar or pickles. To the left of the ajar is dal and in the left front you see sabzee or veggies. This swadisht or delicious meal is a vegetarian’s dream. NOTE: The italicized words are Hindi.
In the background you see many faces glaring up at the live cricket match on TV. These people take their cricket seriously.
These nine plates were easily devoured by my coworker and I. The plan is to constantly turn people on to this place as it’s currently my favorite restaurant in Riyadh. These dishes, plus free filtered water, and two cups of chai, came out to a mere 21 Rial or $5.60. As there is no tax or tip, it was less than three bucks each. I’ve never been charged for individual items, they just give me a total at the cash register on the way out.
This sweet milky chai is a perfect way to end an Indian meal. Like at the Andhra Pradesh restaurant, this tea is the real deal, just as if you were in India.
Athidhi Restaurant is located on Prince Saud Al-Kabeer Street, in the Hai Al Guds – Rawdah section of Riyadh. They can be reached at 2480127. If you’d like directions, call them, or email me: email@example.com
What’s one of your favorite restaurants?