The first of April was a day for celebration at 10 Biryani Mandi . It was on this day ,one year ago when they first opened their doors to the foodies of Coimbatore. They celebrated the occasion by introducing their special breakfast menu. Simple country cooking using locally sourced ingredients is their unique selling point. The owner and head-chef Lakshmi Priya is passionate about her farm and is very keen to showcase traditional Kongu food .She ,along with her daughter Harshini , a trained Cordon bleu chef have put together a hearty breakfast menu that contains a selection of mainly South Indian tiffins along with some select continental fare. That’s done keeping in mind the odd guest who maybe in the mood for just scrambled eggs and toast.
The rest of the menu is truly a treat. Not only does it feature dishes that remind us of our grandmothers’ kitchens but also food that we love to eat but maybe too time consuming to make at home on an every day basis. We were welcomed with the auspicious offerings of vermillion , sandal and fresh jasmine flowers. It was 8.30 a.m and my family and I were quite ravenous. I had made sure not to miss my early morning cardio just to be able to do justice to the variety that would be on offer.
The banana leaves were quickly brought out and the dishes began making their appearance. A warm helping of sweet pineapple kesari was the first dish that was served. I was delighted when Harshini offered to serve ragi kazhi with kadanja keerai as an accompaniment. Ragi back in the day was a rain fed crop . When eaten for breakfast it would provide enough energy to last through the whole day at the fields ,not to mention keep hunger at bay until lunch time. It is cooked in water without using butter or oil until it reaches a sticky gruel like thickness .The skill lies in not letting it go rubbery. The serving that was dolloped on my plate couldn’t have been more perfect.The satiny smoothness of the fudgy ragi kazhi went so well with the chunky spinach puree’ that was seasoned to perfection. I could eat just that for breakfast and be very content.
That was the start to a long line up of tasty morning fare. Golden brown paniyarams coated with a spicy podi were served along with three condiments that they take great pride in. The kothumalli (coriander)thokku , thakkali (tomato)thokku and sinna vengayam (small onion) thokku are slow cooked in the traditional way at their farm. The kothumalli thokku was a clear favourite with us and we indulged in it shamelessly.
The varagu ven pongal was deliciously creamy.The ven pongal will be made with a different millet every day. Kambhu koozh was served alongside in a steel tumbler. It was cool and refreshing to sip on throughout the meal. We were given a choice between a sola dosai and a masala dosai .My husband being the masala dosai aficionado opted for the latter while I went with the former. Already at bursting point,I was a bit apprehensive about finishing but to my relief the sola dosai was crisp ,thin,not greasy and made for a light meal.
All the while that we plied with these forgotten delicacies,my mind kept going back to the fact that this is a non-vegetarian restaurant and I really should sample some of the other dishes. The famous food writer Ruth Reichl insists that the fare at any restaurant must be sampled a few times before being recommended. I completely agree with her !
At my second visit we feasted on crisp edged fluffy appams with a nattu kozhi kozhambhu. A little spicy but very tasty. The ragi kalli and keerai was a hit this time as well with my companions. It went very well with the chicken gravy too. The Bombay toast was a sizable portion comprising of two slices of sweet bread and two savoury. The crisp golden exterior with the gooey centres went down well with my young niece with the rest of us helping ourselves to more than a few bites each !
Unfortunately the filter coffee which we treated to on the first day in shiny brass davaras was not ready the second time around ! They promised to serve it at my next visit which will definitely be on a Sunday to sample their aatukaal paaya ! The smiling Gatothgajan being their new mascot is who I’m holding responsible for the guilt that accompanies my overindulgences at 10 Biryani Mandi ! 😉