Food : Trivandrum Rating : 4/5 Stars

Imperial Kitchen – Veg Meals, Fish Mango Curry, Tawa Grilled Fish & Prawns

Over the past few days, I have been having this little craving to have the Kerala style meals with a variety of seafood options, I guess triggered by a recent review of a popular restaurant around Akkulam area known for seafood options which showed the Kerala style meals served with a variety of seafood options… I then talked to the reviewer whom I am familiar with and along with feed back from a few others I talked to, found that due to hygiene issues it is not a place that I can visit… So, I was searching for other options to satisfy my craving and was checking out reviews on a number of places… Thats when due to a personal errand, I ended up at Kowdiar area and remembered that Imperial Kitchen has a pretty descent Kerala style meal option and also they have the seafood grill options as well and also I had just been paid for two of my works (which is quite rare in my line of work apparently) and so had a teeny tiny bit of extra cash to splurge… So I decided to try having a mixed seafood grill (fish and prawns) along with the meals and fish curry from there and hence I arrived at the Imperial Kitchen at Keston Road, Kowdiar…

While ordering I asked the waiter about the kind of Fish Curry thats served as part of the meals and I found out that its a very spicy chilli based curry which I didn’t prefer and so among the other options, I opted for their Fish Mango Curry and instead of the Fish Curry Meals, I opted for the Veg Meals to go with it… And for the grilled seafood, I checked out the “Fish Market” area as they call it (pic above) and chose to have the smallest available Snapper Fish and then along with that a couple of Tiger Prawns as well… I have had grilled seafood here before and they were usually of the Arabic kind with the Chermoula rub… This time I asked if they have the option of having them done in the Kerala style with Naadan spices and the waiter informed me that they have what they call a Tawa Grill which is the one with the coconut and “Coastal Spices” which was exactly what I was going for… So, thats it… Basically a Veg Meal platter along with the Fish Mango Curry and along with it the Tawa Grilled Snapper and Tiger Prawns…

Everything was served at the same time… However, first, lets talk about the Veg Meal Platter… It came as shown in the pics below in a Thali… This Thali consisted of a cup each of the Dal (Parippu), Rasam (Tomato kind), Sambhar, Payasam (Paalada), Buttermilk (Mooru), Aviyal, Pacchadi, Lime Pickle and the quintessential Kachumber Raita in clockwise order… At the center there was a Pappadom (the Kerala kind)… The Rice served felt to be of what we call as the White Chemba kind, which clearly has been boiled… I was however, surprised at two things – one being the absence of any Thoran (Stir fried vegetable with coconut) and the prsence of the Kachumber Raita, which is not something I would expect to find as part of the Kerala style meal…

Well, this was indeed a decent meal option just like how it was when I had the same before… The Rice was perfectly cooked for me and the Paalada Payasam was good with a slight fragrance of Ghee… The side dishes were as good as one could expect… That is, nothing extra-ordinary about them and nothing is bad about them either… But to be frank, I have had better options… But still there is nothing to complain about except that the absence of a Thoran felt a bit weird and the presence of the Raita in-fact looked weird, but it was a surprisingly pleasant experience to have it and this was the first time I had a Raita with the Kerala style meal and I felt that it elevates the experience of having curd/yogurt with the Rice to another level… I found it surprising that I never thought about trying this combination… Maybe I will try an experiment to make Curd Rice at home using a Kachumber as well instead of just the Curd… 🙂

As I said before, since I didn’t like the sound of the Fish Curry option that was going to be served with the meal, I opted to have the Fish Mango curry… As you may know, our state of Kerala has got a number of different recipes of Fish curry, which practically varies from district to district… One of them is what we call as the Meen Maanga Curry which is the Fish Curry made with raw mangoes as the sour component and there are versions which uses ground coconut paste, coconut milk or without any coconut at all… This particular version that I got here, according to the menu is made with King Fish along with raw/green mango and coconut milk along with Kerala spices ofcourse and there is no kokum…

First of the the Meen Maanga Curry is something I like although I prefer the curries with Kokum… This particular one was no exception to that and I found it to work really well with the Rice and its sidedishes… I usually tend to mix the gravy with the rice and so I did exactly that and it was awesome 🙂 The pieces of fish clearly felt like Indian Cobia rather than the King Fish but still it was good and cooked perfectly… The flavour of Mango and the Coconut Milk was visible throughout the curry as expected and the spices appeared to be the classic Coriander-Chilly-Turmeric powder combo along with of-course the ginger, a bit of garlic (very subtle), curry leaves, onions and a little bit of tomatoes as well… Altogether a Fish curry that I liked to have with the Rice and would recommend as well 🙂

Next up is the Grilled Seafood that I chose to have with the Meal and Fish Curry… What I like the most about this restaurant is that they let you choose the individual Fish, Prawns, etc that you want to have cooked for you… So, when you order, the waiter takes you to what they call the “Fish Market” area, which they used to call as “Live Counter” until I pointed out that the Seafood has to be alive to be called that 🙂 So, essentially they keep the fresh catch of the day on Ice here as can be seen in the pic below and you the customer gets to choose which of these you want to cook… Pricing is based on the weight… For this instance, I chose that tiny Snapper there at the bottom and along with it two Tiger Prawns of which one was the bigger one you see on top and the other was the smaller one thats next to the crab’s claw 🙂

IMG_6686

So, first lets talk about the Snapper… The Tawa grilled option that they call, according to the menu is made with a spicy rub containing Chilly paste and select coastal herbs… They serve it as shown in the pics below on a piece of Banana Leaf and a salad of julienned Onions and Carrot with a slice of Lime…

The Fish appeared to have been butterfied and then cut into pieces that look almost bite sized… However, I wouldn’t recommend putting it whole in the mouth cause they don’t remove the bones of the fish they grill and they get served with the bones intact… So, one must be very careful with this fish as there are quite a lot of tiny bones in this that are quite sharp as well… Once I got done extracting the flesh, I must say that the fish did indeed taste fresh… The flavours of the rub did indeed penetrate thru the fish quite well…  I felt it to be a ginger-onion-chilly paste which was roasted with Coconut slices and the usual coriander and turmeric powder as well added to it… Then of-course the whole thing was infused with the fragrance of the Curry Leaves and was clearly cooked with some coconut oil as well… So, incredible flavours there with the fish… My only problem was the level of heat because of the chillies which ended up being a bit too much for me, but luckily this time I had the Kachumber Raita with the meals and so I used that to cool this down… 🙂 The accompanying salad when mixed with the rice and everything along with the fish added a crunchy component to it which is something I like personally and I usually do this with the onions we get with Fried Fish in most places… 🙂

The Tiger Prawns shown in the pics below was also coated with the same rub and cooked the same way as the fish… It was also served in the same way on the plate over a piece of Banana Leaf and along with the same onion-carrot-lime salad…

The difference between this Tiger Prawns and the Snapper that was served was that the prawns had a much thicker coating of the masala rub… It was the exact same thing, but thanks to more quantity of the masala, it felt more spicy… So, I ended up scrapping off most of the Masala from the prawns and then had them with the Rice and the rest… The Tiger Prawns were clearly fresh and it was indeed cooked perfectly and I found the head butter intact as well… So, no complaints expect for the heat level of the Chillies used… 🙂

So, altogether this was a really good lunch… It is a bit on the higher side when it comes to pricing but I do recommend to everyone to try this combination if possible… And I am looking forward to try this with lesser spice level in my next visit to Imperial Kitchen, which hopefully will happen soon… Not sure when at this point though… Anyways, lets see… 🙂

P. S. : For the people who know me personally and know how much I eat usually and to the Fat-Shaming brigade that I end up facing on a daily basis, who is now wondering if all of this is too much food for a single person, my answer is that it entirely depends on how much Rice and the side dishes you take from the meals because its an unlimited platter and they give you as much of it as you like… Also, from previous experience with the grills, I know that pretty much 50-60% of what you see on the plate is bones and shell (which is the one thing I dislike about this place) and here, fortunately they served everything together and so I could check out everything and reduced the quantity of Rice and didn’t go for seconds to bring down the overall quantity of food to my usual level…

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