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    Taj Coromandel’s popular South Indian restaurant gets a menu update, with old favourites and new experiments

    I respect the old hands that have been in the kitchen for all these years,” explains chef Sujan Mukherjee. “They have made Southern Spice what it is today.” As the new hand wielding Taj Coromandel’s culinary destiny, chef Mukherjee has brought a fresh outlook to old favorites. As always, it’s the smaller details that make the fine dining experience at this restaurant special. They still bring you a tongue tickler on a tiny filigreed leaf bowl, consisting of a teaspoonful of rawa kesari. Each person gets a personal selection of chutneys—arranged on a long silver raft with a twin silver Kerala-style snake boat of sago wafers and crisp munchies. Kappa connect
    Kerala has been showcased in style under chef Mukherjee. Or, at least, the fish and delicacies from the West coast have been presented in a number of ways. For instance, tapioca, or kappa, the starchy breakfast food that is served in Kerala with tiny fried sardines, has been transformed into a cutlet filled with mango chutney, to become a starter. It’s just one among an array of small canapé-style finger foods that are the best part of the new menu.
    If not the onion and cashewnut, or the spinach vadais, there are small bite-sized discs of the Mangalore rice-based akki roti with a hot filling, and an Andhra-inspired multi-grain dosa filled with rava upma that we eat with slivers of freshly-fried kane fish.
    “Do we call it Telangana or Andhra?” we ask, as the old flavors of the new regions land on our silver thali. “I just love the Telugu names. They make everything sound so exotic,” I confess, as portions of Nellore chapala pulusu (fish curry to you and me), or munakaya mamsam kura (drumstick-infused tender lamb shoulder meat curry) are deftly served. Pretty soon, I am weeping copiously into my starched serviette, as the chef tells me that, yes, the chilies are the famously-fiery bedige ones. Rice is nice
    Never mind, Karnataka is just next door and we get all the soothing rice-based accompaniments from there—sanas, idiappams and appams. Can we just mention that the sweetened Mysore rasam and the curd rice are a must? Or even if you are full, it’s worth trying the Thallassery prawn biryani?
    Three kinds of semiya sweets, and pepper and tamarind-infused ice creams, appear like prima donnas sashaying down the Mukherjee-style runway. Southern Spice is rocking.
    Details: 66002827

    —Geeta Doctor

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