Malabar Grand Palace offers Allen Thomas and his family a taste of their Keralan roots despite a dearth of dessert options.
There are few things better than spending some quality time with family.
And that’s what last weekend was about, when we decided to head somewhere to get away from the city.
But en route, and not far from our home, we found a new Mars Hypermarket on the slip road near Al Hail South.
Of course, we had to stop and check it out (yes, there goes our family time again).
As we strolled around the hypermarket, we discovered that a new Malabar Grand Palace restaurant had also opened on the first floor of the mall.
At the time, the place seemed to have a large crowd outside, which made us wonder what the ruckus was about. Just outside the restaurant was a traditional Kerala Chaiya Kadda, which was serving snacks such as bondas and samosas along with Kerala’s popular adichaya (a hot milky tea).
But what caught our attention was a notice, in Malayalam: “Do not talk politics and don’t ask for a loan.” This refers to the very Keralite way of talking politics with friends while having a nice cup of tea.
We decided to stop by for a cuppa after our dinner at the Malabar Grand Palace.
Aesthetically pleasing as it is welcoming, the Malabar Grand Palace gives you the vibe of a restaurant back home in Kerala. The amiable waiters took time to explain the menu and what specials were available. And most of the waiters, and the manager, were Malayalees.
Another intriguing sight were the placemats on the tables: they were adorned with popular Malayalam movie quotes, most of which didn’t fail to raise a smile.
Moving on to the menu, the specials ranged from entrees made of beef to the most popular cuisine of Kerala, Tharavu Curry (duck curry). But alas, they were out of duck at the time.
As we were about to place our orders, a waiter served us with a complimentary grape and pineapple juice in shot glasses called “Stalin”. And boy, it was the most refreshing glass of juice I’ve ever had.
Hence, we decided to go for some drinks as well and noticed the mango mint juice. So our order read: two glasses of mango mint, two glasses of Stalin, two dishes named hani nadan poth masala, which is spiced beef curry, and a mutton roast. The dishes were served with traditional Kerala parotta (a layered, flaky flat bread) rice puttu (steamed rice flour with coconut) and rice pathiri (a form of flat bread made out of rice flour).
My brother, Alvin, and I had the mango mint and, as usual, he went on to click a few pictures (such a spoilsport) while I dived right into mine. The drink can’t be described as anything less than a swim through heaven. We were quite surprised as the beverage was of a distinctly green hue. This made us wonder if it had been made from unripe mangoes. But no! It was lusciously sweet and very refreshing.
Then came our main courses. My parents were quite animated about theirs, and dived into the puttu and the beef curry. On the other hand, my brother had the curries with rice pathiris, and I had the parottas.
My brother declared that his choice was spicier than he was expecting (and had requested). Also, there was something about the beef that did seem quite “off”. Although the curry was yummy the beef seemed to be tough, and my brother opined that it was perhaps a little undercooked. We then sampled the mutton, which tasted rather good.
The dishes were certainly filling. Two parottas down and I could see myself pushing through the third. My parents were quite satisfied with the puttu while my brother seemed to love the pathiri. And being Keralites, we could appreciate cuisine from our home region.
When we were done, my brother and I were desperately in need of dessert, thanks to the spices that had come with our main courses.
To our chagrin (once again), a lot of the traditional desserts, such as fried ice cream, were unavailable. Therefore, my brother went for chocolate ice cream, my sister had vanilla and I had a falooda (a mix of nuts, fruits and ice cream). Nothing exceptional on the dessert front perhaps, but the portions were generous and nicely topped with fruit.
Afterwards, we went and had a glass of adichaya, which was undeniably the star of the evening. With enough spices, the enriching taste of full fat milk just topped it off.
All in all, it was a fair dining experience if not exceptional, but fine for a family night out.
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Definitely worth trying if you are a fan of Kerala cuisine: “Thani naadan thanne”