Spicy and oily - for pregnant women, people with cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, Chettinad cuisine may be a definite no no. But what is definitely a yes, is its capability to lure the resistive. Such is the aroma of the food that even a staunch believer of 'no spice and no oil' would fall for it. And in Bangalore, Adupadi is one amongst the few restaurants where dried flower pods, star aniseed and the 'black stone flower' blend in a harmonious mix to raise an aroma that has been engulfing Bangalore's food connoisseurs.
The fist impression of the restaurant is greeted with its dull look, slightly mitigated by rustic Chettinad furniture, thick Chettinad pillars, and the clean and homely decor. But that is what the cuisine is all about. Being homely.
Though there is liberal use of oil and spices, the cuisine is still considered to be healthy. At Adupadi, oil usage is sparse, but for some strange reason, even a steadfast 'Chettinadian' cannot complain.
Getting to the menu, the must order to begin with would be the nannari sarpath - a soothing concoction with a light fizz to it which keeps you hydrated and cleanses your palate without leaving you feeling bloated. For starters, the mutton sukka (mutton fry), crab pepper fry and the vanjaram fry is worth a try.
A wholesome plate of boneless pieces, mutton sukka packs in enough heat and flavour for an entire meal. The crab pepper fry, prepared with onions, cumin, pepper, red chillies, fennel and curry leaves is a little uncomfortable to handle, but the first bite of that soft, juicy crab meat will have you digging in for more. Be careful of the splintering crab shell. The vanjaram fry (seer fish fry) is also a must, but ensure that the cook does not fry it for too long.
For the main course, try mutton kheema dosa and chicken kotthu parota. The latter is a favourite street food delicacy, prepared by mixing three main ingredients - parotta (a layered, flat bread), meat or eggs and salna, a spicy sauce. The ingredients once mixed properly in a hot, cast-iron griddle, is then pounded and minced into a colourful mixture. It is served with cold onion raita, which compliments the flavours perfectly. However it is the mutton kheema dosa or kari dosai as they are called sometimes, which is the highlight. Crispy dosas lightly hugging a spicy, minced mutton concoction, this dish should not be missed. For those looking for more variety, Adupadi offers vegetarian and non-vegetarian thalis, that include rice, various spicy gravies and side dishes. For dessert, try the Kavini Arisi (black wild rice dessert) or the classic Elanir Payasam. At the end of the meal, you also get beeda paan and small plantains to round off your meal.
The chefs at Adupadi apparently hail from Karaikudi, the capital of the Chettinad district, but none of them come from a restaurant lineage. These chefs have been cooking at weddings and important functions for generations.
However, you might find some difficulty in conversing with the waiters, as none of them understand English. So if you don't speak Tamil, you may find yourself in a little bit of a spot, while ordering your food.
But the food speaks for itself and if you are looking for homely Chettinad food, without the fanfare and something that wouldn't leave a hole in your pocket, Adupadi is definitely what the doctor prescribed.