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Food @ Trivandrum

Azad Star: A Travancore Meal

It has been a while since I last posted about the food at the Azad Star restaurant at the Mall of Travancore… Its because, I have always had mixed feelings about the place and also we had the pandemic situation which basically took away 2 years of our lives… So, recently I got to visit the place with my friend but unfortunately couldn’t take any pics (wasn’t expecting to do the same) but seeing the new menu, felt that there is something worth writing about and so when I ended up visiting the mall again, I decided that its a good opportunity to try a couple of items and here we are 🙂

The new menu has quite a number of new items which I am tempted to try, but at the same time I was having one of my super intense cravings to have Kerala Meals with seafood, especially Fish… So, from the menu, the first thing that caught my eye is what they call as the Curries Chemmeen & Noodle Soup… So, decided to choose that as the starter… Then for mains, cause of my craving, I decided to go for their Fish Curry Meals, however, as I was ordering, a Fish curry called Fish Manjholi Curry caught my eye cause of that weird sounding name… I asked the waiter about it and got to know that its their signature Fish Curry made using Moringa and Mango… So, changed my order to go for their vegetarian Travancore Thaali Meals and the Fish Manjholi Curry… They arrived as can be seen in the pics below…

So, lets begin by talking about the soup… This soup is called Curried Chemmeen & Noodle Soup and it was served as can be seen in the pics below… The menu had no description for this soup but just an image showing some prawns and noodles in a yellow broth… The appearance of the soup served here reminded me of the Coconut Milk and Turmeric based vegetable curry that my mom makes often, especially since the color is exactly the same… The aroma of coconut milk and curry leaves was there as the soup was served… Coming to the taste however, it had me surprised… Cause while there are the flavours of Turmeric, Coconut Milk, Prawns, Ginger, Garlic, Mustard, Garam Masala and Curry Leaves, I also felt the taste of Lemon Grass and Coriander… So, overall this soup reminded me of the naadan Kariveppila and Kurumulaku based soup, and also the Thai Tom Kha soup at the same time… So, I guess its a fusion of both… The Prawns and Noodles were cooked perfectly… But the Cabbage and Carrots when I chewed individually felt like chewing into a Thoran made of the same as I felt the taste of Coconut Oil in them… Overall, I felt this to be a unique soup since I have not had anything similar to this from anywhere else…

When I was done with the soup, the waiter served both the Travancore Thaali Meals and the Fish Manjholi Curry together as can be seen in the pic below…

First, lets talk about the Travancore Thaali Meals… The menu describes this as Trivandrum’s favourite lunch meal with rice, curries, pickle, pappad & payasam… I didn’t the get the pickle this time and instead there was the bowl of Rice, Chammanthy and the famous Thayiru Mulaku Kondattam, along with a couple of Pappadams and then a bunch of side dishes including the Payasam served on a tray as can be seen in the pics below… The Kerala Red Rice was cooked perfectly… I discarded the Pappadam since I am not a fan… The Chammanthi felt very well balanced with the flavours of the Coconut, Red Chillies and Tamarind and was not too spicy… The Thairu Mulagu Kondattam was nicely crispy and salty like usual but unlike most, this one still has some of the heat from the Chilly used…

Now coming to the side dishes, first of all, from the looks of it, it seems they substituted the Fish Curry of the Fish Curry Meals with another portion of the Thoran in the set tray… The Thoran itself felt like a decent one, made using Green Gram and Plantain along with Coconut and spices as usual… The Parippu Curry was just like the kind we see being served in Sadyas in Travancore, again made with Green Gram and Coconut and had the taste of Ginger and Garlic and Coconut Oil and Green Chillies and Curry Leaves… The Rasam tasted nice in my opinion with a rich flavour of Tomato, Garlic and Coriander… It was indeed one of the best Rasams I have had… Aviyal was again nice with well balanced flavours of Raw Mango, Coconut and Vegetables with spices and herbs… Kappa seemed to be cooked to al dente, but unfortunately they forgot to season it with Salt… Yogurt was of good quality with not much sourness… Lastly, the Payasam which was the Ada Pradhaman Payasam, was just perfect with just the right amount of sweetness and richness from the Coconut Milk and Ghee usage…

Next up is the Fish Manjholi Curry… According to the menu, they are claiming this to be a 100 year old recipe of a hearty and flavoursome Fish Curry… They also call this as one of their signature dishes… When I asked about this to the waiter, he informed me that its a nice Fish Curry made using Raw Mango and Moringa (Drumsticks)… The curry was served as can be seen in the pics below… When I heard that its a Fish Curry made with Mango, what I thought I would be getting was something similar to the Fish Mango Curry that I have had from Paragon Restaurant… But this is different as in, its a much lighter curry that uses just ground coconut instead of the rich coconut cream… The Moringa usage gives it a completely different taste… In Travancore areas, Fish Curry indeed is typically made with Moringa but we usually see Fish Curries made with Kudampuli (The Malabar Pot Tamarind) in most restaurants here… Use of raw mango is quite rarely seen and this one ended up being a very good version among the various Travancore style Fish Curries I have had over the years at Trivandrum… The Fish was perfectly cooked and they seemed to use a mix of Kingfish and Cobia for some reason… It was indeed loaded with Moringa and so thats the one whose taste dominated the gravy… Of-course, Shallots, Tomatoes, Chillies, Curry Leaves, etc were very much present… But its not heavily spiced and overall, I felts its a fine Fish Curry to have with Rice…

I must say that the overall combination of the Rice and its curries from the Travancore Thaali Meals, along with the Fish Manjholi Curry was very nice for me… In-fact, this was indeed a meal that I loved after quite a long time as everything (except of-course the saltless Kappa) was just so perfectly to my liking, as in all the flavours and the spice and salt levels were just perfect for my taste… The highlight of the meal was definitely the Fish Curry for me…

Thats it for now… As I mentioned before, I really enjoyed this lunch it was indeed a much overdue post covering the Kerala Meals here as well… There are more new items in their menu that I would love to try and my hope is to be able to do the same soon… As always, will be posting about them if I feel that they are good enough (cause based on past experiences, I can’t make any promises now)… 🙂

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