The Spanish concept Tapas has come a long way. It represents the drinking culture and consists of hot as well as cold appetizers. It is hard to identify it with South Indian food which, though extremely popular, is not savored, or rather favored, with the hard drinks, esp. in North India where the drinks are enjoyed more with Tandoori or Indo-Chinese snacks. But TabulaBeach Cafe has challenged the norms by hosting a Kerala Tapas pop-up (called The Travelling Tiffin) curated by Chef Sangy.
Chef Sangeeta Kuriakos, a Keralite Christian, popularly known as Chef Sangy currently lives in Goa and her menu has strong Keralite Christian Household influences. Contrary to what I was expecting, I found all the dishes in the pop-up menu very traditional and simple, with zero creative distortion which was really surprising considering it is a Tapas menu. Still the dishes went really well with the cocktails that were offered with them, whether it was ‘Disco Deva’ (Chilly Ginger, Abolut, Coconut Water), ‘Bahubali Prabhas’ (Coconut Water, Pineapple Juice, Lime, and Rum) or my favourite ‘Mmm Madhavan’ (a frozen coconut margarita).
Among the South Indian cuisines, Kerala cuisine has some really distinct features as it is inspired by several cultural influences including the Syrian Christan, Muslim and South Indian Hindu cultures. The Christian households too are not isolated and derive influences from all these cultures. The dishes that stood out for me were Vendakka Varuthathu (Fried Okra), Attierachi Cutlets (Mutton Cutlets), Vazhakka Cutlets (Raw Banana Cutlets), Kuzhuva Varuthathu (Fried Anchovies) and Attierachi Qeema (Minced Mutton served with Malabar paratha).
The ‘chilli’, ‘onion’ and ‘jaggery n ginger’ chutneys were mindblowing, each having a distinct flavor and we enjoyed them with murukku and sweet banana chips before the meal since the restaurant was crowded as usual and orders took longer to reach the table. In desserts, I think it was really a bold move to serve ‘Pazham Pori’ (banana fritters) as they may not go down well with Delhi crowd, and to be honest, I was a bit skeptical to try them, but I found them good.
It is going on from April 22nd to May 5th. Weekend Brunches are also part of the pop-up and we recommend you to book in advance.