Restaurant Review: Malabar Bay is a food destination if you can’t visit Kerala! [4/5]

Come in. Sit down. Order your food, and be transported to Kerala! That is what Malabar Bay in BTM Layout aspires to be. And speaking as someone who has always wanted to go to God’s Own Country but never managed, I was more than happy to share a table with friends and partake in food that would tingle my palate. That’s the shorter version of the review. For the longer version, read on…

Malabar Bay Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Now, when you think of Kerala, the lush backwaters along the Malabar coast come to mind. Malabar Bay may not have an ambience like that – it is located in Bengaluru and nowhere near any significant water body – and yet its interiors are a reminder of the roots of a culture that has branched out all over the world.

A typical Kerala thaali

What’s on offer

When it comes to Keralian cuisine, it is a spicy mixture of ingredients that are primarily sourced from the sea, but poultry and mutton are also not unheard of. Of course, there is another kind of meat that’s popular in Kerala, but let’s not complicate matters here. Malabar Bay didn’t, and summed up the sentiment behind its offerings in a single banana leaf, as shown above.

The seafood offerings are quite interesting, actually. I mean, how often do you get crabs as the primary flavour in a soup?

Crab soup
Crab soup

Also on offer, by way of salad, were raw mangos spiced delectably – the kind that sends a shiver down your teeth with their sour taste and make you salivate.

Raw mango salad
Mango salad

Starters and main course

Now, I will admit freely here that I was too busy throughout the entire meal to note down what was what. However, I do remember some of them, but the language barrier stops be from understanding what the rest are. Nevertheless, I will try my best to tell you what was what, and how good it was.

You may also take it upon yourself to draw your own conclusions from the photos I am providing.

First up is one of the starters, a type of fritters and the third is a type of faltbread that looked like a slightly heaver and thicker version of the North Indian poori. The gujiya-looking fritters were actually savoury, and could have done with some sort of chutney.

Now, the three things in the photo came at different times, but ended up together here as a testament to the variety on offer at Malabar Bay. Clockwise from left are some appam and a duck curry, a variety of biryani served with some side dishes, and a drink that was a refreshing treat for us amid the enjoyable assault of spices on our tongues.

Here are some of the other dishes we were served. On top right is a prawn dish that was especially nice, albeit a little bitter.

Somewhere in between where these three dishes. Notice the use of glazed clay pots and banana leaf in plating of dishes. These alone were enough to transport me to a land I want to visit even more now.

And finally these two: The “confused chicken” on the left and volcano prawn on the right. Both delightful, but in very different ways!

Desserts

Now, you would not generally associate Kerala with desserts, but people down there do have a sweet tooth, and some great desserts to quell those cravings.

Here is a version of Shahi Tukda that was a pleasant surprise for me. The custard-like cream was fresh, and yet it had not made the bread beneath it soggy! The sweet and smooth cream with the crunchy bread can be revisited multiple times!

But that was not all! Here we have [clockwise from top left] the Banana Toffee Ice Cream, the Firnee, the Kairalee Jamun and a fourth dish that I cannot seem to identify now.

Final thoughts on Malabar Bay

If you want a proper taste of Kerala, Malabar Bay is the place. Of course, some of the dishes seemed to have been a little over-spiced, to the extent that they seemed bitter to my tongue. However, the “confused chicken” is a safe bet if you like Punjabi and Tandoori dishes, and the volcano prawn is a must-have, even though it is just for the looks of it.

Some of the other dishes I recommend is the general seafood fare Malabar Bay offers. In case you have had enough of the chicken, this is the way to go! And even if you are opting for the chicken, you are getting some authentic fare.

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Esplanade review: Putting the Bengal inside Bengaluru, but at a slightly steep price [3.5/5] – A Valentine’s Day story

So ‘twas the day of St Valentine – Valentine’s Day, for those who needed that explanation – and Arkadev and Pooja decided to find a little slice of Bengal inside Namma Bengaluru to celebrate the occasion. The location they found was Esplanade in Indiranagar, and the experience they had can be summed up with one word: Nostalgia.

If you want further directions, this is the place:

Esplanade Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Starters

Now, the place itself has a cosy feel to it. The lights are not all that bright, and there are small candles on individual tables. They made for a romantic setting, but had a practical use too, as we learnt when the power supply was disrupted a couple of times for a few seconds. So Pooja ended up ordering the Aampora shorbot (left) – a Bengaali rendition of what northern India would recognise as Aam Panna – and Arkadev got the fresh lime soda.

They turned out to be quite refreshing. They were the optimum temperature – not so cold as to numb the palate, but neither too warm to ruin the experience. And alongside we had the Chicken Kobiraji.

Fun fact: While the word Kobiraji may be an adjective alluding to the local doctor who practises traditional medicine, and is called the Kobiraj, this dish has nothing to do with such a person. The name Kobiraji is derived as a breaking-down of the word “coverage,” which refers to the light and flaky crust of fried beaten egg that covers the original thing. And it was flavourful and delicious!

Main course

We talked to Firdous Alam – the gentleman running the eatery – after our meal, and he confirmed that we had, without even consulting anyone, ordered a house speciality. He said he would have recommended the Daab Chingre (a special prawn curry made with tender coconut, and often served in the shell of one), Bhapa Ilish (hilsa fish steamed with a specific concoction of spices), Bhetki Paturi (Bhekti fish steamed and cooked in a banana leaf with spices) or the Kachalanka Mangsho (a dish where mutton and green chilli are the eponymous ingredients).

However, it was the fifth dish he named that Pooja had alredy ordered – with an ear-to-ear grin that would later turn into a smile of satisfaction. It was the Kosha Mangsho (Mutton with specially spiced curry) and Luchi (puffed bread). We were not exactly in a mood for rice, so two Lachchha Parathas (Bengal’s equivalent of the Kerala parotta) and a Koraishutir Kochuri (Luchi-like bread stuffed with grounded, spiced and then cooked peas).

We knew we had ordered the correct thing with the first lick of the gravy, which we found just a smidge scanty. What it lacked in quantity, it made up for in taste: The flavours played around in our mouths for quite some time! And it paired well with the Lachchha Paratha as well!

Pardon our hungry selves, for we found little time to snag a pic of the Koraishutir Kochuri. But you can take our word for it: It was soft and flavourful as long as it stayed warm. And that goes for the Kosha Mangsho as well! The mutton was succulent at first, but quickly turned tough. However, it did not turn rubbery. Thanks, Esplanade!

Dessert

There was a limited spread for dessert, but we chose the Baked Bonde (sweet Boondi in kheer), which was a delight because it was served warm and stayed warm. Not exactly an Esplanade speciality, but wonderfully sweet!

Later

It was only after we had finished our food-coma-inducing meal that we managed to notice that Esplanade had come up with some Valentine’s Day specials. We had ordered the Chicken Kobiraji/Kabiraji from here, but would have liked to sample more of the cuisine.

Maybe another time. When we are really hungry and have more money in out pockets. Because as much as the restaurant would like to say, eating there is not exactly a cheap affair.

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