Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Washington DC & Baltimore >
Jun 21, 2012 08:02 PM

Karaikudi Indian food in Chantilly

We were excited to see the opening of Karaikudi, a restaurant that specializes in Chettinad food, from Tamil Nadu, in Chantilly (next to Lotte Plaza). I'm wondering if anyone else has had the chance to try it? I'd searched the web, but found nothing about this place, so my husband and I decided to order take-away from there last night.

Their menu includes some items that other South Indian restaurants in the area don't have, like crab soup, various egg curries, avial, mutton sukka varuval, shallot and coconut tamarind curry, Chettinad quail, etc. Unfortunately, they were out of some of these dishes (like a shredded parotta and vegetable dish) on a Wednesday night -- it seems like the menu listed on their web site is a special, weekend, menu.

So my husband ordered the mutton biryani, and I got the egg biryani. Both came with a tomato-onion raita. At first, we were disappointed with the size, which seemed smaller than most other places. But, in retrospect, we were both full after eating about 3/4 of the dishes, so the size was fine. And the taste was completely different than biryani from other local restaurants -- it was spicier and richer in flavor, a bit "wetter" and much more similar to what you would actually eat in Tamil Nadu. The biryani got two thumbs up from us, and we're looking forward to trying other dishes from here to see how they measure up...

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Six Chowhounds went on a Sunday evening to test the Chettinad cuisine of this Chantilly restaurant right next to a Lotte supermarket. We purposely went on a weekend night when the buffet is not in service and had the full menu to choose from.

    To fully appreciate the food, which is well worth it, you need to order a kottu parotta. Parotta is a kind of flaky 1,000-layer bread found in other parts of Asian cuisine. Very good by itself, but the kottu style is chopped and mixed with spices and some sauce to make a kind of bread pudding. Fantastic concoction. Some plain parotta is key as well to absorb the intense, rich, and spicy food.

    In addition, we ordered:

    Ennai Kathrikai (eggplant in a rich sauce with tamarind)
    Avial (stem vegetable and carrot in a thick coconut gravy)
    Chicken Chettinad (their signature dish in a spicy sauce)
    Kadai - Quail. With a bit of thick, clingy sauce, but otherwise a ‘dry’ dish.
    Mutton Biryani

    All the food comes out of the kitchen piping hot.

    We ordered well in terms of a mix of flavor. They use a lot of this ‘stem’ vegetable, I don’t know what it is called, but it has a creamy interior and papery exterior that you don’t eat, so you have to spit it out.

    If you want to up the spice quotient, just tell them. They will comply. Or, you could order one of the inherently spicy dishes from the appetizer side of the menu. Both the Mutton Sukka Varuval and the Karaikudi Kozhi Pepper Varuval, which I had on a previous trip, are intense. The waiter will warn you, especially about the chicken.

    The quail, which was tough and stringy, was the major disappointment.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Steve

      The 'stem' vegetable is called drum stick vegetable.

      Don't forget the keema dosa, that was really yummy.

      1. re: luckyfatima

        Yes, you're right about the keema dosa. It was served flat and 'toasted.' I guess we ate it so quickly I forgot!

      2. re: Steve

        This sounds delicious and I am so sad I was unable to attend! What was your favorite? Were any of the dishes a must-order?

        1. re: mookleknuck

          Great synopsis, Steve and luckyfatima.

          For me, the must orders were the parotta - I really never had anything like it; keema dosa, mutton biryani, and the chicken Chettinad. I agree that the quail was meh.

          We were pleased - as Steve mentioned, we really had a great mix of flavors on the table.

        2. re: Steve

          Good overall review steve!

          Karaikudi, while not authentically Chettinad in all it's offerings (Avial for example is a dish from a different state). You are spot on with the kothu parotta and the dishes like avial, kootu, ennai kathirikai are spot on. The Karaikudi chicken, while tasty in itself, was excessively overpowered with spice the time I had it.

          The problem in eating from a family of spicy dishes is that quite often you will get the cooks amping up the spice levels to make sure the dish lives up to its reputation.

          But all in all this is a great addition to the South Asian scene since things do get tiring with the familiar medley of faux-Indian dishes at most restaurants.

          1. re: altan

            Thanks, anything I know about this cuisine comes from luckyfatima who helped us order.

            If I were to order for just one or two people, I think the kottu parotta, ennai kathrikai, and the mutton sukka varuval (from a previous visit) would make the perfect meal to touch on a veriety of excellent flavors and textures.

            1. re: altan

              Avial is very much a Tamil dish (though also prepared in neighboring states)...can't say with certainty that it is a particularly chettiyar dish and I don't know much about that food. But that's not true that it's only from a different state. It's pretty much prototypical Tamilian cuisine, especially for pure vegetarians. Actually the first time I had ever heard of it was from a Tamil woman (Iyyer background).

              Edit: Just googled and found this chettiyar avial recipe:

              1. re: luckyfatima

                Actually the origin of the dish (as far as I know from my family) is Keralan; in malayalam the name means mixture. Of course, over the centuries, this became popular in Tamil Nadu and other regions in the south, where they now abound. There are variations on the dish, including whether to use garlic or not, depending on one's religious dispensation, and whether to use green chillies or black pepper.

                I am skeptical of its Chettiar origins however.