It is difficult to find a traditional south-Indian restaurant in the capital city, where one can find vendors selling Chola Kulcha or Chole Bhature in every nook and corner. Padmanabham, inspired by lord Padmanabhaswamy’s temple in Kerala is opened exactly where Masala Trail by Osama jalili was, next to the popular Saravana Bhavan in Janpath.
Housed in a conceptualized temple with its Mandala art work, a Balaji statue, Chettinad pillars and the whole paraphernalia with stimulus from Padmanabha Swamy temple in Trivandrum, Padmanabham offers authentic south Indian delights from states like Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. It is built with an intricate fusion of the Chera( the ancient name of the modern state of Kerala) style and Dravidian architecture in Kerala. The interiors exhibit the mandala artworks and kalamkari paintings that are typically found in South Indian temples especially in Kerala depicting puranic stories and motifs .
Vidur Kandodia, Partner at Padmanabham says, “It all started with one of my trips down south to Bangalore and Thiruvananthapuram. The experience of eating a Sandhya meal on a banana leaf was something I had never experienced before. That was something definitely amiss in Delhi. In the same trip, I had the fortune to go to Lord Padmanabha Swamy temple. The grandeur of the temple and its austerity left me spellbound. The interiors are inspired by the South Indian temples with colourful Meenakshi Amman temple mandalas adorning the ceilings, the Chettinad pillars, and the kalamkari art on the walls.”
This southern Indian newcomer is certainly not an average south-Indian restaurant; it rather brings an interesting touch of South to Delhi. Chef Bakshish Dean with his 27 years of experience and his team have done an in-depth research into the cuisine and culture of all the four states while curating the menu. The restaurant is spacious and can have around 200 people at a time.
It offers a rotating menu of meatless meals as a sensational ‘Bhojanam’ (unlimited thali) from the states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka; that comes atop a large, green banana leaf. Each section is headed by a chef from that particular state and delivers an extraordinary and adept meal along with a number of ever changing dishes in tow. The Bhojanam is an excellent way to see how capable the restaurant is at just about everything.
We started off with a glass of Rasam with Pappadam, followed by Paniyaram, Idli Vada Duet, Masala Vadai, Mushroom and Cauliflower 65, and Idiappam with Kadala Curry. For Bhojanam we were served the Kerala cuisine. Beans Thoran, White Pumpkin moru Curry, Sambhar, avaiyal, red rice and adai payasam were among a few dishes that were served on a banana leaf.
In the A La Carte section, one can discover a whole new range of vegetarian delights like Kalan Chettinad Masala (mushroom curry), Guttivankaya Koora (stuffed aubergine dish), and Kappa (tapioca) Biryani, Ghee Podi idli, Milagai Bhajji’, Masala Paniyaram, and Adai (mixed lentil pancake) to name a few. Sweet treats like pineapple halwa, Sweet Pongal, Bandar Halwa are also available. Dishes are modest, well flavoured and reliably well cooked. An added bonus is that while portions are big, prices are impressively small.