Chennai will miss Akshay Tripathi, the Head of F&B at Taj Coramandel, as he moves to Mumbai. Regulars at Taj Hotels, remember him for opening the super successful Wasabi, at The Taj Mahal, New Delhi. Akshay will, hereafter, manage the F&B operations at The Taj Mint, oops, The Taj Landsend, Mumbai, one the the most rocking hotels in India. I have known Akshay for years and look forward to enjoying a malt with him ( though he insists on wine ) at Maritime, Mumbai. On a recent visit to Chennai, I went to bid a warm “Chennai” farewell to Akshay and happenned to enjoy a meal at Southern Spice, after many years. I tasted a few things over lunch, loved the hospitality and made it a point to go back and plan some pairings with the spicy cuisine.
Southern Spice is the traditional South Indian restaurant at Taj Coromandel, which serves the cuisine of the four southern states of India. Serving authentic and well researched cuisine from the 4 south Indian states Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. A well researched menu with dishes from interiors of each state highlights of the cuisine from every state, highlight the cultural element of the state. Every 6-8 months the chefs go back to the roots and visit homes in the interiors of the states to unearth new recipes and bring them back to the restaurant. The décor of the restaurant is inspired by the temples of the Chola Kingdom of 900 AD and the Mysore Palace as well as the Pallava (Kanjeevaram), Chola (Tanjore and Brihadeshwara Temple), Pandyan (Gopurams), Hoysales (Belur and Halebid), Vijayanagar (Dravidian) and Nayaka (Meenaxi and Rameshwaram temple) dynasties that have ruled Southern India. The interiors are very traditional featuring columns, artefacts, murals etc from these dynasties.
The hotel has a good whisky list, well stocked and offered at great prices. Whilst the whiskies are mostly enjoyed at Chipstead, the Bar, lot of guests appreciate good whisky and great food at Southern Spice. Taj is also the comfort zone for Chennai and old families feel much at home. The restaurant, itself offers a good menu and some good whiskies, reason enough for most guests to be frequent guests.
Next time, when in Chennai, try some of these Whisky Pairings at Southern Spice.
Southern Spice & Whisky Pairings
Even though the spices are very bold and expressive, a patient pairing can be enjoyed.
• Denji Rava Fry (Semolina crusted soft shell crab) – The Glenlivet 18 YO
• Kane Kempu Bezule (Lady Fish from the estuaries of Mangalore, marinated and cooked to perfection). – The Clynelish 14 YO.
• Vaigai Kari Sukka (Tender lamb shoulder tossed with a special spice mix, a Madurai specialty – Laphroaig 10 YO
• Banana Dosa (Cardamom and jaggery flavoured banana fritters) – Glenfiddich 15 YO
• Kayar Katti Yerachi Kola Urundai (A fennel flavoured minced lamb dumpling wrapped with a banana fiber- A Thanjavur specialty) – Chivas 18 YO
• Alleppey Fish Curry (Seer Fish cubes simmered in a raw mango and coconut milk flavoured curry). Whisky ?! maybe avoid….
• Sankara Meen Kozhambu (Red snapper fish cubes cooked in a tamarind and fenugreek flavoured curry- Specialty from the costal regions of Tamil Nadu. Enjoy with Brown Rice and a Royal Salute 21 YO.
• Royyala Iguru (Prawns cooked in an Andhra spice mix with coconut and cashew gravy). Heavy Duty stuff, enjoy with Talisker 18 YO.
• Kozhi Melagu Curry (Chicken morsels simmered in a Chettinad spice mix with freshly ground black pepper). JW Double Black.
• Manathakkali Vathal Kozhambu (A fragrant tamarind curry with night shade berries). Dalwhinnie 15 YO