Had I not met Chef Naren Thimmaiah in his chef whites, I would have mistaken him as an IIT IIM pass out (yes, that’s a cliche which we still think as a good career) senior Investment Banker with thin framed spectacles, bright intelligent piercing eyes, a smile which is always present and sharp process oriented focus.
- A smile and he says that these days most of my time is spent in sourcing and that’s the key aspect of the cooking
- Does your mother cook multiple times at home when diff family members sits down for lunch? The answer is no and we also follow the same policy, especially for the curries which is the key to consistency
- Be it appam or dosa, our first few ones are still personally checked by him for right consistency and fermentation
- Basis sales, he cooks only fixed portion of the curries for the day and if towards the end of day, additional requests come in – he refuses
- In a day and age when restaurants across the world have shifted towards canned coconut milk or cream, at Karavalli they still extract fresh milk from coconuts every single morning
Chef Naren Thimmaiah has been the face of Karavalli restaurant in Bangalore and the way Mr. Vir Sanghvi explains, the importance of Karavalli restaurant in saying that what Bukhara has done to North Indian restaurant, Karavalli has done to South Indian cuisine and perhaps Karavalli restaurant at The Gateway Hotel in Residency Road Bangalore is the best South Indian Restaurant across the globe.
In case you are interested in the illustrious history of Karavalli then read this
We were at Taj Bengal Kolkata where we met Chef Thimmaiah for the first time. It was on the occasion of the Karavalli festival where the famous dishes of Karavalli restaurant menu has been put up on the offering for Kolkata. What we experienced is as Madhushree wrote for Eazydiner
This festival sees the spread of some of their iconic dishes in 3 kinds of thalis- Vegetarian, Non Vegetarian and Seafood. The option for a la carte is also there with the choicest of dishes from their exemplary menu. The vegetarian starters are chattambade (chana dal vadas from Mangalore), gobi kempu bezule (cauliflower florets deep fried in a light batter and tossed in some spices), aritha pundi (steamed rice dumplings flavoured with coconut and cumin, a dish from the Brahmin community of Mangalore) amongst many. The non vegetarian appetizers have some beautiful plump tiger prawn roast from Kerala, meen eleittad (fish steamed inside a banana leaf again from Kerala) and more. Both of these dishes were so unique in their flavour profile. While the prawns are spicy and have a multitude of fresh flavours from various spices, the latter is a simple dish where pomfret is coated in red chilli paste, lemon juice, salt, pepper and turmeric and wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed.
Curries have always been the high point in Karavalli. Even though every curry is coconut based, the souring agents as well as some essential spices are different and what distinguishes one from another. So while Goan prawn curry has kokum as its souring agent, Alleppy meen curry has raw mango to give it the sourness and unique fresh flavour. Karavalli mutton curry is a typical Manglorean curry made with cashew paste and tomatoes. A very unusual curry in the menu is Mavinkai Mensukkai – a raw mango curry sweetened with jaggery, it is remarkable since it somewhat is in between a curry and a chutney and can be had with rice or simply on its own. The staples that come with the curries are the usual appams and Malabar paranthas and the desserts range from bebinca and dodol from Goa to rice payasams.
We wish this festival was for one more weekend and more food lovers from Kolkata would have been able to enjoy the food. This is now added in our bucket list for Bangalore visit.