Food @ Trivandrum

Trying The Famous Kuzhi Mandi At Alif Mandi House

Recently, when discussing about various Mandi options available in Trivandrum including a Mandi option I recently had (check it out here) with a couple of friends (who used to live in the middle east), they suggested I try Mandi from a recently opened place called Alif Mandi House, which is close to the Mukkolakkal, Kulathoor, close to Attinkuzhi but on the service road of the highway bypass, which is not too far from the area where I live… You may have noticed that I haven’t been posting much compared to before and its because I am going thru bit of a dull patch work wise and fortunately or unfortunately, my self-respect doesn’t let me use my “food blogger/reviewer/critic/consultant” label and ask for free food… Anyways, after a bit of patient waiting, I finally got the chance to check it out and this post is about the experience… 🙂

First of all, I have been to the place before but back then instead of the mandi house, it was a healthy fruit and vegetable juice shop (forgot the name) and the building used to look like a cargo container… Now that it has become Alif Mandi House, its the same cargo container like building, but the new decor doesn’t make it look so, although the size feels the same… I can see that they have done their best to make it cool, but I wish they had installed air conditioning here cause it pretty much felt like sitting in a warm oven when I went there for lunch… I hope they do install ac by summer cause I think the heat would be unbearable by then… Of-course, during evenings and night, I think the place would feel fine… Anyways, its the food that matters most, rt??

Anyways, Mandi is clearly the speciality here as can be seen in that to be the main item featured in the menu… Apparently there are two kinds of Mandi, the Kuzhi Mandi and the Al Faham Mandi, which is available only in the evenings… There is also a biriyani option and a minimal selection of non-rice options too… Anyways, I was there to try their Mandi and so went for the Kuzhi Mandi; Chicken version ofcourse, although you do have a beef and mutton option as well… Along with the mandi, I needed a drink and so, went for their Special Sharjah Shake as well… Both got served as shown in the pics below…

To be frank, I had gotten fed up of Mandi and Kabsa in general because of how badly its done mostly in the clearly far too many places that offer them in Trivandrum… Either they make it too spicy (which is plain outright wrong) or make it too bland and/or too salty or in pretty much bizarre forms (even had one where the owner proudly claimed that they use authentic “Mexican Grilled Chicken” in it)… But I decided to try this one simply because my friends whom I mentioned above insisted that the Mandi here is quite close to the one they used to have while they were in the Middle East… Hence, here I am with the Kuzhi Mandi 🙂

Being there by myself, I went for the quarter chicken portion which is what they recommend for people who dine alone… And this place serves unlimited rice which means you get to ask for and get further refills of rice on your plate… Anyways, The Kuzhi Mandi I had was served as shown in the pics above along with the usual Tangy Tomato sauce, Mayo and a Green Salad… In addition to this, a black colored additional sauce was also served as seen in the pics… I asked the waiter and he was gracious enough to inform me that its a sauce made with Dried Red Chilles and Jaggery and hence said that I can expect a sweet, spicy and smokey taste…

Coming to the taste, my favourite item on the plate was that Red Chilli and Jaggery Sauce which I believe was perfectly balanced in terms of the smokey and spicy flavour of the Red Chillies and the Earthy Sweetness of the Jaggery used… The Mayo tasted same as every other garlic mayo but less viscous which makes it easier to mix with the rice… Salad was just plain green salad and the Tangy Tomato sauce ended up being a bit too tangy for me… The rice was clearly the start of the show as I felt it to be tasting simply awesome… Flavours are subtle and just right with the balance of the flavours of the capers, green chillies, Star Anise, Onions, Cardamom, black peppers, dried lime and herbs with the milky Saffron flavour taking the lead along with the flavour of the Chicken fat and also a very very subtle hint of tomato… I really could eat just the rice on its own… However, mixing in the sauces really takes the flavour profile to the next level and its something that I really can’t find words to accurately explain… It just have to be experienced in person… If you are a foodie, heres a tip: try tasting the sauces individually and figure out how to balance their flavours in the mix with the rice… Just Trust me on that 🙂

Lastly, the Chicken was also too good as in, cooked perfectly that bones and meat come off easily… I did find some crispy skin on it as well, suggesting to me (I could be wrong) that they have seared it a bit (possibly by frying) before cooking/baking it in the Mandi way with the rice… And the chicken also seems to have been rubbed with some spices and I found flavours of peppers, dried lime and dried red chillies to be dominating there even though with subtlety… Overall, I think this is definitely one of the best Mandi options around and is a must try for all Mandi or Arabic cuisine enthusiasts… 🙂

As I was having my Kuzhi Mandi, the waiter served the Special Sharjah Shake that I had ordered to have and I ended up asking him if he ended up getting the orders mixed up… Cause as you can see in the pics below, it clearly doesn’t look like a milk shake but rather looks like an ice cream sundae ie another Knickerbocker Glory variant, rt??? However, the waiter insisted that it’s the right item… A surprise indeed as I have never seen a Sharjah Shake in this form… At best, what I have see is more fruits/dry fruits blended into the regular Sharjah Shake…

Well, turns out that here, instead of blending the extra fruits and dry fruits, here, a Special Sharjah Shake consists of the regular Sharjah Shake topped with them and a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream topped with Corn flakes and dessert topping sauces like how we find in an Ice Cream Falooda sundae… In one of the pics and the video below, we can see that the milkshake is the base and its indeed loaded with fresh and dry fruits and nuts (mostly peanuts) and Tutti Frutti… Coming to Taste, everything individually tasted as we have seen many times in various places, but what I like about this version is that its not too sweet overall… Basically felt like having a Falooda Sundae without the vermicelli and poppy seeds and Sharjah Shake instead of Rose Milk 🙂

So, overall, I can say that I enjoyed the lunch very much… Like I said before, I just wish that the owners can figure out and install air conditioning considering the fact that Summer is approaching very soon… So, thats it this time… See you all soon 🙂

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