Restaurateur Sandeep Sreedharan does not guarantee authenticity at Curry Tales. As I settle down for a chat with him on one of the wooden benches at this Khar restaurant, I’m extremely aware of the low, rumbling sounds emanating from my tummy. The aroma of curry leaves, the promise of fluffy appams and seafood thalis I’ve heard so much about threaten to overwhelm me, but I’m intrigued by Sandeep’s opening statement. Set up with the vision to popularise South Indian coastal cuisine, Curry Tales fills a glaring void in the city’s food landscape and yet, here he was, telling me that the only things he can promise are simple home-style food, cleanliness and high-quality. “Everyone’s got a different recipe for Rajma-Chawal, so arguing about authenticity is useless,” he says. My Punjabi grandmother would agree wholeheartedly. Authentic or not, I’ve always believed that gastronomy, not geography, is far more palatable as a way of insight into India’s immense diversity.
Originally from Mahe in North Kerala, Sandeep says that there is a lovely tale behind every curry on the menu since each one has been curated from homes across the length and breadth of the state. In addition to Kerala, he also introduces his customers to flavours from Mangalore and Maharashtra, while combining them with the unlikeliest ingredients, to bring his concept of ‘Modern Coastal Cuisine’ alive. Don’t get too attached to a particular dish, though - Sandeep keeps experimenting and switching things up, depending on the wacky ideas he has, and what the customers want.
A wooden wall, intertwined with creepers and fairy lights, hanging brass tea kettles, an auto frozen in time and a horn on the wall (with the sign ‘Blow Me If You Like It’) - Curry Tales is the sort of place that’s accommodating of both family lunches as well as first dates. I rifled through the extensive menu as I alternated between sips of tangy, spicy rasam and cooling Kerala-style chaas. The Chicken Ghee Roast from Sandeep’s hometown was delightfully spicy, the Prawn Dry Fry put out the fire from the ghee roast with a satisfying crunch and I’ll be dreaming of the flavourful Fish Pollichadu, wrapped in banana leaf, with soft dosas for many days to come. It was served with gunpowder and a carrot pickle that usually features on buffet tables at weddings, elevating my meal at Curry Tales to quite a festive affair. Sandeep then brought out a ‘Curry From Calicut’ and served it with a flourish and an appetising story. A delayed flight, a late-night meal, the woman who made it and a stroke of serendipity are the reasons the curry is on the menu at Sandeep’s restaurant. Spoiled for choice and bad at decision-making? The thali is at the happy centre of this Venn Diagram and Curry Tales’ non-vegetarian version has many loyal fans.
At Curry Tales, ruby red pomegranate seeds embellish the Seviyya, the fruit cutting through the richness of this milky dessert - a delicious example of Sandeep’s culinary genius - and after the last spoon, I am ready for my afternoon siesta, with just enough energy to blow the horn on my way out.
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