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Raise a toast to Rasam

The newly-opened Rasam takes you on an interesting and inexpensive culinary journey

PHOTO: R.RAGU

Old world aroma The spread at Rasam

The sweltering heat, dust, unrelenting traffic, long line of shops; everything familiar to us, Chennaiites, is in place at Purasawakkam. But suddenly you are shaken out of that comfortable stupor. Bang in the middle of it all time stands still and th ere is a piece from the last century.

Welcome to “Rasam”, “authentic Kongunad veg fine dining.” Started by M. Murali of Sri Krishna Sweets, who makes his foray into the city’s restaurant scene with “Rasam”. You struggle through a sensory overload right at the door, thanks to the unmistakeable smell of ghee that permeates the sweets section at the entrance hall. If a horse drawn carriage had stopped by and a brown sahib in full suit and his bejeweled wife clad in nine yards Kancheepuram pattu had stepped out I wouldn’t have blinked even once.

At the table, the freelance food consultant and Chef, Jacob Sahaya Aruni takes over. From Thulasi vadai (Rs. 60) to Karupatti halwa (Rs.75) and onion payasam (Rs.100), he leads us through a thoroughly enjoyable trip to Palani, Pollachi, Karur, Kangayam, Salem, Erode and the rest of Kongunadu.

I chew the Vettrilai poondu saatham (Rs.85) a bit slowly. It is one of chef’s recommendations on the menu. The fried garlic and the peppery bite blend well. But the third, the betel leaf was rather elusive. Yes, I did get a strip of the leaf. But it is hard to figure out the dynamics of this combination.

The Ilaneer halwa (Rs. 75) is the other mystery. The sweetness masked the essential flavour of the tender coconut. It felt as though the halwa is riding on its novelty factor.

My taste buds are now caught up in those feathery soft strands of Ragi idiappam (Rs.85). With Kai saalna (Rs. 75), a mild kurma, it is a marriage made in heaven. Who said Mughlai food alone has sophistication? Enjoy the subtlety of Seeraga paniyaram (Rs. 60) and creamy smoothness of Pollachi thengai kuzhambu (Rs. 95).

What makes an experimental customer repeat one? The bill, of course. This is where Rasam scores big. With the excellent freebies thrown in — paanagam, indhamudham and benian, the ambience, the quantity and quality of the dishes, the prices are not too hot to handle. A point to note; the a-la-carte menu is available only at night. Lunchtime is thali time. Ph: 43560101.

MARIEN MATHEW

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