Chef Naren Thimmaiah, who is in Delhi to bring a pop-up at Varg, says they continue to procure ingredients from the original source, like perfectly smoked Kodumpuli from Kerala, toddy vinegar from Goa and Kundapur coconuts for their firm white flesh.
One of the biggest food trends currently is the stress on local and seasonal produce, which translates into regional and home-cooked food. This has spawned several restaurants that are championing the ingredient and simplicity in dishes. In short, back to basics. However, for Karavalli, Taj Hotel’s signature restaurant at The Gateway Hotel, Bengaluru, this food philosophy has been its foundation ever since it was incepted over two decades back, showcasing authentic household recipes of mothers and grandmothers gathered from the south-west of the country. The menu at Karavalli represents the cuisines of Goa, Mangalore and Kerala, covering the communities of Goan Portuguese, Konkanis, Bunts, Havyaka Brahmins, Namboodaris, Moplah Muslims and the hinterland cuisines of Syrian Christians and Coorgs.
Chef Naren Thimmaiah, who is in Delhi to bring a pop-up at Varg, says they continue to procure ingredients from the original source, like perfectly smoked Kodumpuli from Kerala, toddy vinegar from Goa and Kundapur coconuts for their firm white flesh. “We use organic vegetables, spices, pulses and grains to a great extent. This is how it’s done at homes in these regions and that’s how we will continue to operate. We source almost all the ingredients from the regions — black pepper, cardamom, coffee, cinnamon, Kodumpuli and Kachampuli from Coorg; kokum, palm jaggery, palm vinegar, from Goa; Kundapur coconuts, seasonal vegetables, cashew, papads, murukkus and areca from Mangalore; ada, karimeen, kuttanad red rice, coconut oil, cheena chatty from Kerala and byadgi chilli from Dharwad region to ensure food is as authentic as it can get.”
But south Indian cuisine now has many modern avatars, with restaurants built solely on this premise. So what ensures continuing success for Karavalli despite modern twists and interpretations? Chef Thimmaiah points out one obvious reason: “Regional cuisine restaurants with rare cooking techniques will survive for sure, as apart from other reasons, those will be the only places you willget authentic cuisine as families increasingly find it difficult to cook up elaborate traditional meals due to time constraints.”
He adds that eating out is a way of life now, and not just a lifestyle requirement. But he insists that with the mushrooming of restaurants serving food from all over the world in all formats, be it fine dine, QSRs or even takeaways, guests have eaten it all and fairly know what it is all about. And their loyalty is with restaurants that don’t fail their expectations. “Guests also gauge the quality of a product offered.” And with Karavalli, what they get is a menu comprising dishes that have been well-researched, with recipes gathered from home cooks all over the region.
The Karavalli experience comes to the national capital for a week starting September 21 to mark 11th anniversary of Varq at Taj Mahal Hotel.