Karavalli, at The Gateway Hotel Bangalore is presenting its seafood bonanza, Aquafest. The well-lit and canopied restaurant is famous down South for its charmingly delicious cuisines from the coastal belts of Karnataka, Goa and Kerala. Executive Chef Naren Thimmaiah and his team are known to create mouth-watering delicacies using a rich dose of authentic ingredients sourced from the original locations, and create a spread, that is reminiscent of grandmother’s cooking.
This season, Chef Naren and team have created perhaps the most diverse seafood spread you can find anywhere in Bangalore. From sea crabs to sear fish, and from Mumbai’s famed Bombay duck to squids, the menu is rich, boasts the freshest catch and is well marinated with the right amount of spices to lend it a delightful flavour.
Renowned for the Taj hospitality, the team at Karavalli will first request guests to take a sip of either fresh coconut water or their utterly delectable butter-milk. Once you’re done quenching your thirst, be prepared for what is to follow next. Koondal Varattiyathu are marinated squids batter-fried and cooked with some special Kerala masala. The squids were succulent, fried to perfection and the curry leaves just about enhanced the overall taste and flavour.
Our next item of the day was Karuapila Konju, which was tiger prawn pan-fried with onion and tomato and fresh curry leaves. DELICIOUS!!!!That’s what we can say. The prawn had just the exact blend of masala and was neither overcooked, nor left half-raw. Yes, one bite and we were transported to seventh heaven!
As we relished the two items, licking our fingers of all the masala and sipping on the coconut water, in came the Neitha Denji, or the sea crab fried with a subtle Kundapur spice mix and some clarified butter. Oooooh. The flesh was fresh, soft and sweet. And the rich masala worked well in bringing out the natural flavours of the crab meat.
After enjoying the crab meat and chewing onto the crab, we were excited to find the very popular sear fish on our plates. Cooked with the green Goan cafreal masala, the slightly sweet, tangy mix cooked with onions, listfully flavoured the fish.
After a few moments of taking in the fresh Bangalore evening air and clearing our palates with some more sips of coconut water, we were presented with two surprise items: Bombil rava fry and yettida biscuit rotti. Yes, the bombil or Bombay duck, famously hanged for drying along the coastlines of Mumbai was coated with a spicy chilly masala, then tossed and turned over a bed of semolina and fried to bring out its tasty flavours. The orange-red hue of the bombil rava fry was not just appealing to the eye, but was wholly satisfying to our taste-buds and ofcourse our stomachs. The fish was supremely fresh.
And the biscuit rottis, that traditional Mangalorean spiced pooris? When stuffed with shrimps, copra and semolina, they tasted yummm.
Have never eaten shrimp stuffed biscuit rottis before. Hats off to the team for presenting these two delicious concoctions!
Wait a minute… meal did not end here. We were just about somewhere in the middle. We were next presented with the scampi tava fry which was coated in Mangalorean masala. The Chef tells us that they source the best scampi from Vizag! Now the one on our plate looked too good to eat. Yes, really. But excited as we were, we tore open the scaling and dived for the succulent flesh that tasted heavenly.
We thought it was done, but the team quickly changed our plates for the main course. Yes, Kerala’s meen moiley, lightly flavoured with green chilli, curry leaves and turmeric and the marwai pundi, or clams simmered with rice dumplings made for a great combo when eaten with the lace appams. The gravies of both the meen moiley and marwai pundi were finger-lickingly delicious. Were we done? Well…not yet! There was dessert that was to come. Mangalore’s famous kasha halwa (made of white pumpkin), sprinkled with cardamom was too good. So was the raagi manni, a smooth velvety cake made out of raagi floor, jaggery and coconut milk. As the chef entertained us with stories from his culinary journeys, explaining the methodology behind each of the dishes presented to us, we felt that we had not just satiated our hungry stomachs, but our hungry-for-information brains as well.
Overall, a lovely evening well spent with the team at Karavalli, and with food that helped us connect with our roots back in coastal belt.