The chicken kicks it in, the beef builds it on, and the duck, crispy parottas and sapid gravy make the experience truly, duly Kerala. Alvin Thomas is bowled over by the fowls and the flavours
Most Indian expatriates who migrate to Oman don’t usually feel out of place here. The reason for that is the acceptance of their cultures by the locals and the availability of fellow mates to back them up should they need help. There’s a running joke that Oman and the UAE are extended annexes of India.
Of course, where things really take a turn is when you’re on the lookout for authentic Indian cuisine. And if you’re a bachelor on a budget, the options for good quality Indian foods are quite slim (despite what it seems like) – trust me when I say that.
Most restaurants here serve you a variety of dishes from a slew of Indian states but fail to capture the soul – or the emotion – of any one
But one restaurant managed to surpass my expectation recently – Food Day. The name is as clear as day, and what amazed me was that they delivered on almost all counts.
I headed for Food Day with a cloud of doubt: It’s a hole in the heart of Azaiba that claims to serve authentic Keralite (Malayali) cuisine. To test out whether the restaurant could live up to its claims, I took my parents and siblings along.
The restaurant is quite spacious despite an understated façade. We were escorted to the family dining area, which was essentially a party hall, by the kind and well-spoken waiter. Sadly, the insides were probably unused for a while, and I was put off by the manky floors.
Nevertheless, we decided to dine there. The waiter presented us with our menus.
We opted to go elaborate, and asked for a wide variety of dishes. We started with a bowl of sweet and sour chicken soup, before ordering a plate of chicken lollipop, prawns fry, pidium kozhium (a chicken and rice-based delicacy), duck roast, appachan varatiya beef (which roughly translates to “beef prepared in a style reminiscent to how your father would”), chicken curry and a plate of parottas.
The chicken lollipops were the first to arrive and were splendid, further alleviating our doubts of the place. The small chicken pieces were garnished in spices and it was a good way to kick-start things.
The soup was the next to arrive. The portions were generous and the overall aura of the dish was impressive. The sourness of the soup transcended over all other flavours, which made it the perfect mid-winter soup.
My brother Ninad took a shying to it and said that it tasted like what you would ordinarily get in a star restaurant.
Meanwhile, my parents had already started off with the pidium kozhium. They said that it tasted “genuine” – and better than what they had ever tasted in a restaurant outside of India. Mind you, even restaurants in India struggle to reproduce this dish; it’s known to be simple in texture yet arduous to prepare.
Next to arrive was our main course. The duck roast and the appachan varatiya beef turned out to be the stars of the evening. The duck was fresh, soft and incredibly flavoursome, as is almost never the case in restaurants, and the accompanying gravy was thick and spicy. It went well with the golden-coloured crispy parottas.
The beef fry was exceptionally appetising, too. The dryness of the gravy complimented the soft beef, while the Kerala-style onion salad complemented the palate. The chicken curry and the prawns fry were enjoyable but were overshadowed by the extraordinarily tasty duck and beef curries.
My brother Allen made conversation with the waiter to glean information about their source of fresh ducks and beef – to no avail, though.
But none of that mattered, because the restaurant, despite its shortcomings, manages to bowl over its audiences with top-quality food and a service to match. So, if you’re ever on the lookout for bona fide Kerala cuisine, you must head to Food Day.
And don’t forget to order a plate of duck roast. It’s lip-smacking good – I promise you.
Behind Zubair Automotive Showroom, Azaiba, Muscat
Opening Hours: 9am to 12pm
Contact: 2413 8411
Dinner for six: RO24.5
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