Food : Trivandrum Rating : 5/5 Stars

Paragon – First Visit

The Paragon is a very well known brand that features restaurants that specialise in Malabari Cuisine… So, being from Thalasseri myself who have a fondness for Malabari food, the original Paragon restaurant at Kozhikode was a place I used to visit with my parents whenever we went to Kozhikode… The last time I visited a Paragon restaurant was when I went to Kochi a couple of years ago and visited their branch inside the Lulu Mall… I had heard that they were going to open up a branch here in Trivandrum and I was looking forward to it for quite sometime… So, when my friend informed me of it being finally open and recommended I visit there asap, I happily went over there for lunch today as clearly its been a long time since I had proper Malabari food… ๐Ÿ™‚

The restaurant is located close to Kesavadasapuram in the Ulloor – Kesavadasapuram road and it is indeed a huge restaurant with multiple dining rooms that can seat more than a hundred customers at the same time… I was a bit early there today and so got to see the place almost empty but very soon, saw the place became packed with people with even more people waiting to be seated… The interior of the restaurant indeed does look like its a starred posh restaurant and kind of reminded me of the dining rooms of some of the 5-7 starred places that I have been to… So, as I walked in, I was directed to the dining hall at the first floor and thats where I had my lunch today…

The menu could be seen to be dominated by Non-veg dishes and it is a multicuisine menu having mostly the Malabari dishes with the addition of some Chinese and North Indian and a very few of Continental as well… There is a nice selection of Mocktails and other drinks and there is a Dessert display case at a corner of the dining hall where they have a small open kitchen as well… I was seated right next to it and so had a direct view ๐Ÿ™‚

So, first, I needed a drink, you know, coming in from the hot sun and so, among that list, I went for whats called as the “Paragon Sherbath”… Then for the meal, as a starter, I went for their “Seafood Coriander Soup”, followed by their “Chemmeen Porichathu” and their “Chicken Biriyani” as the mains and then finally, from the dessert case, I had their “Elaneer Pudding”… In addition to that, as parcel, I took home their “Fish Mango Curry” and “Prawns Mango Curry” about which I’ll talk about at the end… ๐Ÿ™‚

The first to arrive was the drink I ordered called the “Paragon Sherbath”… As per the menu, its a mix blend of blanched Grapes, Narigandiย syrup (I guess they meant Naruneendi otherwise known as Nannari where I am from, which is extracted from the root of the Hemidesmus indicus plant and is well known in Ayurveda for its medicinal properties) and Khus-khus… It came served in a tall glass as can be seen in the pics below…

Yep… it is the Nannari syrup that they have used and in addition to the grapes, I think this time, they have added some Jamun syrup as well to it… The flavours of the three ingredients could be felt quite strongly but in perfect balance to each other… The Khus-khus provided the usual bit of crunchiness to the Sherbeth… Overall, It was an incredibly refreshing drink to have in the summer… I loved it so much that I had to have one more… Need I say more??? ๐Ÿ˜€

As I was enjoying the Sherbath, the waiter brought me the starter i.e. the Seafood Coriander Soup… According to the menu, this is a mix of Seafood Puree done with a rich creamy finish and seasoned well… Essentially its a rich and creamy soup infused with Coriander leaves and had some pieces to prawns and squid in them…

To be frank, this really felt like the Seafood Chowder but flavoured with Coriander leaves… So, looks like a mixed seafood broth (fish, prawns and squid) made with coriander leaves puree (the natural Chlorophyll giving it that green color) and then thickened with corn starch and finished with rich cream… Seasoning ofcourse, the usual salt and pepper… This is the first time I am having a soup like this and it really felt awesome to have because I like the flavour of Coriander leaves and I felt it worked really well with the Seafood Chowder ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ˜› So, this is a soup that I’ll be looking forward to have again… ๐Ÿ™‚

After I was done with the soup, after a brief pause, the main course that I had ordered was served… This was the Chicken Biriyani and along with it, I went for the Chemmeen Porichathu…

First lets talk about the Chemmeen Porichathu… For those who don’t speak Malayalam, Chemmeen is the word for Prawns and according to the menu, this is a simplistic dish made with medium sized prawns that are marinated in their special masala and deep fried… Its served with a salad of julienned Onion, Cabbage and Carrot…

First of all, the prawns were cooked perfectly and was perfectly infused with the flavours of the Curry Leaves and the masala which to me seemed like the classic combination of Coriander Powder, Red Chilly Powder and Turmeric… What I couldn’t understand is where those granules that looked like dry White Khus-khus came from and to me they tasted exactly like the Chutney Powder that we sometimes use when eating Dosas and Idlies… Ofcourse that is not known to stick and so, if coated with that and fried, it usually comes apart and that seems to be what has happened here… Anyways its the taste that matters and I can say that it was absolutely spot on… It was incredibly clean and the masalas didn’t overpower the taste of the prawns which is just how I like it and how it should be and they did serve the prawns with the head and I could find the head-butter intact, which by itself is a package of goodness… The granules part of the masala works incredibly well with rice which I found out when I tried mixing it to the rice from the Biriyani that I had with it…

Now, the Biriyani as we all know have quite a large number of variants to it… However, being a Thalassery origin guy, the Thalassery style Biriyani always has a special place in my heart for… However, right next to it has always been the Kozhikodan style Biriyani which is otherwise known as the Malabari Biriyani… I must say here, we have a lot of places in Trivandrum who claim to sell Thalassery style or Malabari styled Biriyanis and sadly none of them do… So, one of the main reasons I was really looking forward to Paragon is that with them, there is a real chance of getting the authentic Malabari Biriyani as they are famous for it in North Kerala…

Thats why I couldn’t resist trying out the Chicken Biriyani that they serve here… When it arrived, it arrived as shown in the pics below, along with Onion Raita, Chammanthi (almost dry Coconut Chutney) and the Spicy Dates Chutney as can be seen in the pics… Immediately on seeing this, I felt even more hopeful because this is how they and everyone else serve Biriyanis over at North Kerala and none of the places in Trivandrum who claim to be serving the same does this… We always have these three accompaniments to Biriyani irrespective of which Biriyani it is and when I see a place claiming to serve Malabari biriyani and don’t do this, it really irritates me to the core… The quantity of the Biriyani was just right… ie, not too much and not too less… Essentially had two pieces of Chicken and rice thats just enough to eat the pieces of Chicken with… Again, thats the right ratio of meat to rice thats supposed to be served like which again, the other places don’t get and end up serving too much rice and very little meat and most of the rice ends up being bland which completely spoils the experience… Also, do notice the amount of Raita given for the quantity of Biriyani… Thats again is how its supposed to be that the other places here don’t get, and are pretty much treating the Raita as if its more expensive than gold… The way we eat is that we mix the Raita in and so every morsel of the Biriyani we eat must have some raita in it and then the pinch of Chutneys being usually made spicy (raita is intended to cool down everything) all together makes a stunning combination of flavours that I can guarantee that you simply won’t have enough of… Thats how Malabari Biriyanis are supposed to be and the difference between that and the Thalasseri version is in the rice thats used and the way its cooked and also slight differences in the masala thats used as well as how potent the masalas can be… ๐Ÿ™‚

Finally, I can now proudly say that we now have a place that sells authentic malabari Biriyanis in Trivandrum… Paragon has successfully brought in the exact same Biriyani that they serve at Kozhikode and I can’t tell you how happy I am that its here… The Kozhikoden style has subtle but complex flavour of the spices that are used… What dominates however is the incredibly amazing flavour of onions fried till almost charred in Ghee… That subtle sweetness along with ghee along with the various spices like maise, nutmeg, cinammon, cloves, star anise, etc ended up being balanced to absolute perfection for me along with the flavours of the Chicken, which was cooked just right and like how we do over there and the Rice thats used… So, safe to say that Paragon is going to be my regular spot whenever I crave for a Biriyani…

As shown in the pics above, I had the Biriyani with the fried Prawns and the combination of the fried Prawns along with the Biriyani turned out to work really well… That masala granules when mixed in with the rice added its own dimension of flavours and crispiness to the Biriyani… Altogether it was an amazing meal to have that I hope to have again very soon… ๐Ÿ™‚

Once I was done with the main course, I was presented the dessert options and I must say they have a nice selection from Banana Cakes, to Cheesecake to Crem Brulee and the one I had was what they called as “Elaneer Pudding”… Essentially Elaneer in Malayalam is the word for Tender Coconut and so, this is a Tender Coconut Pudding… It was served as shown in the pics below topped with Whipped cream, a piece of roasted Coconut and Mint… Clearly it looked like another gelatinous mass or a Panna Cotta which made me feel a bit disappointed because, in pretty much all the places I have been to in Trivandrum, they end up over using the Gelatin and that tough to cut and wiggly resulting texture is not something that I like to have… However, being Paragon who is not from Trivandrum, I kept my hopes held high and dug in…

I was surprised!!! The texture was just at that right balance between jelly like while being lite and creamy at the same time… Clearly the Chef knows what he doing and has used just the right amount of Gelatin which gives you that amazing texture… The flavour of the tender coconut was just awesome and if I am not mistaken there appeared to be a very very subtle fruity element to it as well, sort of like the flavour of Litchies, but in a very subtle way far below the Tender Coconut… But that combination of flavours ended up being amazing for me, so that this has now become my favourite Tender Coconut Pudding… I’ll definitely have it again during my next visit to the place… ๐Ÿ™‚

As mentioned before, I had taken two of their Seafood Mango curry variants as take away for my grandma and others (including me later) at home… One was the Prawns Mango Curry and the other was the Fish Mango curry… When I enquired which fish it is when ordering, the waiter informed me that its made with “Aykoora”, which for Non-Malabaris is what we call what you call as Neymeen or Kingfish or Seer fish… The Seafood Mango curry is an authentic traditional Malabari recipe for cooking seafood using a ground paste made up of coconut, onions, tomato, green chillies, the classic spice mix of Coriander, Red Chilly and Turmeric powders and we use pieces of raw Mango in it as the sour component… The curry is made by slow cooking the seafood in the paste with some added water making the gravy at the end of the process and is seasoned well… Coconut oil is used in tempering of the spices…

After reaching home I managed to taste a bit of both the curries and they were exceptionally good… Just how this curry is supposed to be with an incredibly rich and creamy gravy and the Fish/Prawns cooked just perfectly… I am looking forward to have the leftovers of these curries with rice for lunch tomorrow because, as its a little known fact that this particular recipe ends up tasting even better on the next day ๐Ÿ™‚ So, I’m eagerly looking forward to that experience tomorrow… ๐Ÿ™‚

So, altogether to conclude, I am truly speechless right now… All I can say is that I am truly glad that Paragon group opened up the restaurant in Trivandrum and based on how it looked today, I can tell that they are here to stay… I am hoping to go back there and try the rest of their menu very soon… ๐Ÿ™‚

 

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2 comments

  1. Exquisite Write Up! Sensous mouth watering description of a tantalising restaurant which already has thousands of admirers in the north. Delighted to have it at our door step.

    Liked by 1 person

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