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Food @ Trivandrum

Eat By Citrine: The First Impression

So, today again, my parents and I decided to order in food for our lunch and turned out the place we intended to buy from was closed today and so as we were looking for other options in the app, this new name popped up that caught my attention and that was the “Eat By Citrine” restaurant… The app said that its located near Technopark but when the food arrived, the address written on the bag showed that it was in the Technovalley area…

The menu here appeared to be mostly consisting of Naadan / Traditional Keralite food options with a few Tamil options in there as well… So, among the options available today, we went for what they call as their Chinna Venkaya Kizhi Chicken Kushka, Poricha Nei Pathiri and Thenga Choru with Chammanthi along with their Meen Mulakittathu and Meen Peera… They arrived as can be seen the pics below…

So, lets talk about the Chinna Venkaya Kizhi Chicken Kushka first… Kushka or Kuska is different from a Biriyani and is basically a one pot recipe where rice is cooked using spices, herbs and ghee… Its typically don’t contain any meat, but veg and non-veg versions do exist where in addition to just spices and herbs, vegetables and/or meat or stock is used… Its much easier to make compared to Biriyani and the key point is that being a one pot dish, everything is cooked together unlike in case of most Biriyani versions where the ingredients are cooked separately and then layered and finished together at the last stage… Here as as can be seen from the below pic, the Kuska appears to have been cooked wrapped in a Banana Leaf and has pieces of Chicken, charred Garlic pods and Shallots in it along with the spices and herbs…

Coming to the taste, first of all, this was not spicy at all and all I could detect were the taste of Salt, Chicken, Rice, Shallots, Garlic, Curry Leaves and Coriander… The Biriyani like garam masala was definitely there but only at a very subtle level… The rice clearly was fragrant but though this was wrapped in a Banana Leaf, sadly, I felt that its fragrance was eclipsed by that of the charred Garlic and Shallots… The Chicken clearly was not fried like how we see in most Biriyanis but rather appeared to have been cooked rather well with not much spices… Overall, what I felt that compared to the Kuska versions that I have had before, the presence of spices were mild, which personally, I have no complaints about though I am skeptical about how the general population of Trivandrum would find it to be… I guess packaging a spicy gravy to accompany it like how the places I have seen do in Chennai might be a good idea or just increasing the intensity of the spices would work too… However, the one complaint I have is that the amount of garlic and used here seemed too much for me… I guess reducing it a bit should make it easier to appreciate the other flavours more if the spices level is kept as it is going forward… πŸ™‚ Anyways, its definitely a unique rice dish option mostly unknown and hence new for Trivandrum and so I for one hope they review the recipe and get it right soon… πŸ™‚

Next up was the Thenga Choru, which basically translates to Coconut Rice… This is said to be a Malabari recipe which was very popular in Northern Kerala before we got introduced to the Biriyani when it was either Nei Choru (Ghee Rice) and Thenga Choru which were dominating the Kitchens of Muslim households in the region… This was typically eaten with a spicy curry mostly made of meat or seafood and condiments like the Chammanthi and Pickle (which is where the practice of serving Chammanthi and Pickle with Biriyani comes from)… Basically this involves cooking Rice using Coconut Milk… Some versions add a garnish of grated coconut while others just add a tempering of Curry Leaves, Red Chillies, Mustard Seeds and/or Shallots… The version I got here appears to have added some Channa Dal as well as can be seen from pic below…

Coming to the taste, well first of all, as soon as I opened the lid of the container, we were hit by the incredible fragrance of Coconut… The rice was incredibly flavourful with the flavour and fragrance of both Coconut Milk, Curry Leaves and the Mustard Seeds used… The Channa Dal and the grated coconut provided their textures and flavour, adding to the overall experience… The combination with the given Chammanthi (which we will see later) ended up being very enjoyable… So, the experience was basically the opposite of the Kushka where instead of mild and subtle flavours, here we have much stronger flavours that really hit your palette… All of us here loved this and I can go as far as to say that this could possibly be the best Coconut Rice we have ever had… Definitely a must try… πŸ™‚

Next up is the Poricha Nei Pathiri… The Nei Pathiri is again a very popular and traditional Malabari recipe, again with origins traced back to the Muslim Community of North Kerala… Its essentially a thin pastry made using Rice Flour, Grated Coconut, Onion and Ghee thats mixed with a few spices like Fennel and/or Sesame and then typically deep frying the thin flattened dough till its crispy with golden brown color (you can refer here for the recipe we use at home)… The following pic shows the Neypathiri we got today…

Coming to taste, it felt nice but sadly because of being packed piping hot, by the time it reached here, the crispiness was gone and was soft… But no complains on the taste as the flavours including the seasoning were just right… I personally found it to be a good combination with the Fish Curry we got… If you ask me, this would be best had from the restaurant dining room served straight from the stove / fryer…

That was the end of the main items and now we go on to talk about the accompaniments… And so, lets start with the Meen Mulakittathu… This is a one of the three most popular variants of Fish Curries in the Kerala Cuisine and as the name suggests, this curry involves the use of Red Chilly Powder as the base of the gravy along with Coriander Powder and Turmeric along with Onions (Shallots mostly), Tomatoes, Kokum, Chillies (both Green and Red), Ginger and Garlic along with Curry Leaves and of-course the Coconut Oil… It is usually made to be quite Spicy and Tangy at the same time and is typically enjoyed with Rice… The following pic shows the Meen Mulakittathu that we got…

Coming to the taste, as expected, the curry was indeed spicy and tangy to the point where I wish it was just a tiny bit lesser intense… The Fish used appeared to be an assortment of multiple kinds of Fish cause from what I had, I got a tiny piece of Sardine, a tiny piece of Tuna Mackerel as well as what felt to me like a piece of the Malabar Trevally which seemed to work as a combination and were cooked perfectly in the gravy… The gravy seemed to have the flavour of Sardines more as that tends to be the more intense flavour among the fish used along with the flavour of Mackerel… So, clearly not a simple Fish Curry but rather a curry with quite a complex flavour profile… I think this curry would work wonderfully with both Rice and also Kappa (Cassava – which I am planning to try later with the leftovers) and certainly did work with the Kushka rice as well as the Thenga Choru… Overall, I just loved it and I wished I had ordered more… πŸ™‚

Next up is the Meen Peera, which is another very popular Fish dish in the Kerala cuisine… Unlike the Fish Curry, this as can be seen from the pic below is dry and is essentially a Thoran or basically a Stir Fry made using Coconut along with Spices and Herbs… Typically Sardines and Anchovies are used for this and the spices and herbs typically involve Ginger, Green Chillies, Mustard, Curry Leaves, Shallots/Garlic and a sour component being the Kokum or Raw Mango… A little bit of water is used to aid the cooking process of the Fish but only just enough for that cause we don’t want a gravy in this… The following pic shows the Meen Peera we got today…

As can be seen from the pic above, this Meen Peera is made using Sardines… The fish was indeed cooked perfectly and I felt that the flavours of the Coconut, Raw Mango (the sour component here), Ginger, Curry Leaves, Mustard, Garlic and Green Chillies were perfectly balanced and well seasoned… I could eat this on its own but it did work great when I tried with some Thenga Choru as well as the Rice from the Kushka… Loved every bit of it… πŸ™‚

Last but not least, lets talk about the 4 side accompaniments we got with the main items… I am not entirely sure which all came with which except for the Chammanthi and the Raita cause in the menu it was written as Thenga Choru with Chammanthi and of-course you expect a Raita to be served with the Kushka… That leaves the Gooseberry Pickle and what looks like a spicy and tangy Chilly based Chutney…

Anyways coming to the taste, the Gooseberry pickle looked and felt have been made using Dried Gooseberry along with Green Chillies in Brine… Nothing particularly special there other than the use of Dried Gooseberry… Hence moving on to the mystery Chilly Chutney… This one reminded me of the Chilly Paste I got when I had Nasi Goreng from another place, except that there, the sour component was Tamarind and here I felt that its Kokum and had Garlic too and was clearly made by stir frying as the oil presence and taste indicated… To be frank, I loved it on its own but I don’t think it worked with any of the items that we got… So, I ended up eating it on its own as a sort of a Palette Cleanser πŸ™‚ And of-course nothing particularly interesting about the Raita and Chammanthi as well as it was the usual Onion Raitha that we see served with Biriyanis but made using thicker yogurt and the Chammanthi was the usual Red Chilly and Coconut based Chammanthi that we see in Pothi Choru options… So, nothing much to talk about them…

So, overall, I felt this was a fine lunch from a new place that in my honest opinion is mostly doing a good job and looks promising… Everything had a homely taste and feel to it without any of the grease that we normally find in most restaurant foods and hence seemed quite healthy as well… As for pricing, I found it to be the nothing beyond the norm and in no way expensive but of-course thats subjective… Anyways, I for one did enjoy the food and am hoping to try more from their menu soon… πŸ™‚

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