Monday, November 04, 2013

Unforgettable Dinner at Dakshin, Park Sheraton


My brother and his family were visiting us for Diwali. I was catching up with them after well over a year. My SIL had already done her homework about the places she wanted to see, shop and dine. The Wharf was high on her list, but I was unsure because of the weather and also the distance, a solid 45km drive did not help.
My brother was craving for authentic south Indian food. So I made reservations at Dakshin, well loved by many for its simple, authentic south Indian fare. I had a long day and an evening dinner with my family in such a lovely setting was a perfect way to wrap up the day. My nephew is in love with Ganesha, Saibaba and fishes. He either bows in front of them or blows kisses and waves to them. Dakshin has a huge beautiful idol of Ganesha at the entrance and of course, the little one did his little act before we all proceeded to the main area.
The setting was perfect. We were seated in a corner, tucked away from everything and everyone else, not that it was crowded. My brother loved it right away. The corner seating and the personalized attention and care by our attendant was spoiling and special. My nephew was at his best gracious self. We were given jasmine flowers as a welcome.
For drinks, we ladies had coconut water with honey and mint, which was soothing. Brother dear settled for fresh juice. This was followed by some tasty starters that you don't normally find in south Indian restaurants. We were first served a variety of chutneys followed by a mini uthappam and for the dessert, we had a sweet banana pancake cooked in ghee.
Highly recommended was the Vazhakkai Shunti, which is basically a mildly spicy fried green banana balls served with a brilliant combination of tangy raw mango chutney. The chef hit a home run with that one.
The starters were terribly filling. So we decided to tackle the main course one dish at a time. My SIL and I spilt a plate of Kal Dosai, which is similar to a crepe. The batter is not fermented and is served thick. You can have chutneys to go with it or lentil gravy. My mom had spring hoppers accompanied by a lovely light Avial while my brother was in love with the Aapam and Coconut stew. I was never a huge fan of coconut based stew because of its richness. We also ordered a tamarind broad bean gravy which was fantastic with the dosas. Inspite of our seams bursting at the sides, we decided to go forward with the dessert, which was the Elanir Payasam. Elanir is coconut water and payasam is a sweet gravy made with a jaggery base. It  was served cold and had the right balance of sweetness. We were in heaven.
Around this time, the young talented Chef Harish came by to chat up with us and we discussed the length and breadth of south Indian cuisines. As a complement, the chef also presented us with the Baadam Halwa (Almond desert) and another unusual coconut based gravy dessert served with the small toasted marinated bread. I also suggested some of my favourite desserts to add to the menu such as a the Double ka meeta and Shahi Tukda. It was such a memorable experience.
We had professional musicians on classical instruments who played some of my mom's favourite songs. My family loved it because of the warmth and the ambiance, and the care given by everyone around us. My brother relived the experience when we were dining at home the next day - what a wonderful piece of memory to carry back with you.  When you cook from the heart, it unmistakably shows.

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