Thattukada Chowdown - Results! [London]
I'm sitting here more or less ready to die from the amount I've eaten (I didn't realize how full I was until I started downing a papaya Rubicon) so this seems like a good time to get the ball rolling.
We had an absolute feast which went rather well despite it's last minute (literally 30 minutes or so before for some) size reductions. We went from 16... to 13... to 16... to 13... to 10... to 8... all in about 2 days. Thank you London Underground. Thank you. And for Dave MP, thank you London Overground. You work every weekend.
Food! Limster, Deansa, my girlfriend and I all got there a bit early (aka on time) so we started with an order of netholi fry and some beer. Netholi are basically whiting and the dish involves them being fried crispy with very little batter and a whole lot of onions. It's probably my favorite fried dish at Thattukada to be honest.
Once things filled up and reunited our group things kicked off. 6 thalis (4 veg, 1 mutton, 1 chicken) were ordered and rice was substituted for bread on 4 of them. You can do this if you ask. It keeps costs down.
This basically meant beet and cabbage shaks as well as sambar and a cold yogurt "curry" with plantain in it which is closest in consistency to Gujarati kadhi.
More fried stuff came! This time mussels which were tasty, but rather soft compared to how they're usually done. Around this time a fish moilley also arrived sans bread, though we managed to mop it up later on. All in all excellent moilley and the portion was a lot better than the last time I ordered it (aka this time we got one massive steak and one smaller one whereas last time I only got a medium one in it.)
The third or so wave consisted of kappa biriyani, puttu kottu (veg) and puttu kottu (chicken.) Finally a veg biriyani finished us off. Oh yeah... we had chicken biriyani way earlier on too...
The two actual biriyanis (veg and chicken) were moist and flavorful. The chicken was much improved from when we got it at the last chowdown (an incident that left me feeling silly for hailing it so much as it's just about my favorite biriyani anywhere but it just wasn't feeling it that day.) The kappa biriyani is not really biriyani at all. Rather, it's kappa (crushed casava) studded with the complete contents of Thattukada's beef fry (that fiery beef thing you have with todi if you're Gordon Ramsay in Kerala.) It was awesome. An instant favorite for me as it was my first time having it. It's also heavy enough to kill a small child and probably the hottest thing we had.
The kothus are pretty much street food chop ups and both were quite good, though there was a general consensus that the veg one with chickpeas was actually better. It's basically puttu (rice and coconut flour steamed in bamboo) given a quick chop up halal cart NYC style with in one case chicken and the other black chickpeas. Tasty and another viciously filling dish.
In total it came to 72 quid with a 5% or so deduction made by our waiter.
This place is great, just really annoying to get to on a Sunday. But the trip was well worth it, because the meal was excellent.
I really liked the breads - appam were very nice, and so were the parathas. Probably my favorite bite the whole evening was the egg appam, which was an appam with a perfecly steamed egg in the middle - just borderline between runny and hard yolk.
I really liked the biryanis, and I'm not normally a huge biryani fan. I thought the chicken one was a bit better, but both were good.
Kothu was good, and like Justin said I preferred the chickpea version.
I liked all the curries, especially the fish moilley and the mutton.
The kappa biryani was my least favorite, as it was quite heavy - see description above :)
Also, the netholi fry was great! I was happy to arrive early enough to get some tastes.
I will definitely be going back to this place soon......preferably on a day when the Overground is running, as it's only 20 minutes away from Harringay Green Lanes when the trains are going!
Thanks jfores for organizing! A very fun meal
Thanks again JFores
Disappointing that the 30 course feast did not materialise, but somehow that adds to Thattukada's charm....
As always the appams were sensational..
Loved the warm cumin water we had to start (cleanse the palate and help create room in the stomach).. just warm water with cumin seeds but it had a very pleasing taste and a lovely warm yellow colour
Being veg I can't vouch for a lot of the meal, but the veg thali was great. The beetroot and cabbage dishes were lightly spiced, not too heavily cooked and made for a very simple introduction to the meal. The dhal was good - mild with the yellow split peas cooked very well, not too soft, although it came out a little late and lacked something special. I wasn't a massive fan of the cold yoghurt curry - mainly because I'm not a huge yoghurt fan.
The kothu was really good - although debate raged whether the plain putu is better... i'm happy with either
As always, chaotic inside, great company and a really fun night.
Thanks again for organising! I liked this meal even more than the last one.
I was wondering if the Netholi were fried with shallots, addictively fragrant and savoury.
The chiken bryani was probably my favourite, with lovely balance of moisture and grease in the rice, the flavour of the curry, and how meat and egg and rice all came together.
The egg appam was also stunning, simple yet elegant, the toasted coconut flavour coming through to give a nutty finish after the egg. Beautiful texture too.
The kappa bryani was also tasty too, and I enjoyed the spicy heat, silvered between the soft cassava and the veins of meaty beef.
I liked the veg kothu a little more than the chicken one, and the coconut flour gave it a delightful sandy texture, that reminds me of the sensations from toasted rice in Thai and Vietnamese cooking.
I got a few pictures, none very good, although the one of the egg appam is okay.
Other points about this meal and the restaurant in general:
Cutlery was not provided (even when we asked), so we ate with some spoons, but mostly with our hands.
The veg thali on the menu costs £3.50, while meat thalis cost £4-5. They are listed as lunch specials, but are available all day and are served with rice (although jfores was able to successfully substitute)
Service was very relaxed. I quite enjoyed the atmosphere, and the staff were quite friendly, but this is not the place to come if you are in a huge rush.
Thanks JFores for organizing, that was a fun meal. Like many above, I was also a big fan of the egg appam. Perfectly cooked egg (white just set, yolk still runny) on top of a really good appam, it was an almost perfect bite (I would have liked a little sprinkling of sea salt on top to make it perfect).
Another favorite was the kappa "biryani". I didn't find it too heavy, mostly because that is the consistency I expected from cassava, and the spicy beef in it really compliments the dish well. On a future visit, I'll definitely try the beef fry on its own as well.
I also really liked the Netholi fry, both the fish and the onions were delicious. That dish was pretty much the perfect beer food (though I didn't have beer on this particular occasion). The little portion of mutton curry that came with the thali was quite good, I preferred it to the chicken curry that came with the other non-veg thali. And the parathas were really good, beautifully layered and not greasy at all. Given how good the breads were, I'll have to try the dosas and chapatis next time.
For me, the star dish was the vegetarian puttu kottu. The chicken puttu kottu was very nice too, just the chickpea flavour worked very well. I quite liked the biriyanis too. The fish moilley packed a huge flavour punch, one I'm not used to having not eaten much Keralan food! But it was nice. The only dish I didn't resonate with was the the netholi fry, which I found a little bit oily. Overall a very nice meal at a good price. Next time we just need to persuade TfL to play along and not close all the train lines!
Another Chowdown last night (Sat) at Thattukada, but seemed like there has been a change of chefs, or the cooking was a bit off that particular evening. Most dishes offered were pre-deep-fried before being served as-is, or else tossed in a chilli-spiced sauce with onions and peppers: kind of like High Street Indian takeaway fare.
Keralan cuisine is usually enriched with coconut milk, subtle, with hints of fresh turmeric, but these qualities were not evident here. But it *was* a real budget meal though!
Pics below were the fried seafood platter, and the baked whole fish.
The other night was a worryingly off day for Thattukada. Literally one of the worst meals (food quality wise) I have ever had there in over 4 years. I'll give that branch another shot, but I might start to switch to the new one as it does more turnover and seems to attract their better cooks. The weird thing is that the old branch (where we ate) stayed exceptionally strong on fries, devileds, etc because of the drinking crowd, but those are the dishes are really failed.
The para pollitchattu and the beef curry were still very good. Appam were decent while the parrota was below average given their usual quality.