Bangalore restaurant reviews budget eating

Cafe Malabari

Monday, January 14, 2013Me! In words

At a relative's birthday party recently we had a some great food from God's Own Country - a fabulous fish curry, some great biryani and more. Naturally we inquired and the food turned out to be from Cafe Malabari in Koramangala, a place that has been on the list for a while. And so without further ado, we bumped it up on the list and headed there one afternoon for lunch. 

Decor is close to nothing to talk about, the ambiance is more of a large college canteen with the traffic of Koramangala to accompany the din in the restaurant. Tables and benches (yes benches and not chairs) seat a sizable number.  We got down to business and having Sudhakar and his Malayalam speaking advantage helped decipher. The lunch and dinner menus vary a good deal with most of the real Kerala specials being available in the night for a more leisurely meal. Not to say that afternoon did not have a good share as well. 

We started with a Naimeen Varthathu, a nice slice of seer fried to the crisp with a spicy chilli masala, with an unnecessary onion salad on the side. The fish was nice and fresh and it made for a nice starter. For Anoushka we went with the ghee rice and the chicken roast. Its the nati chicken that is used here and it can be a tad tough. The masala on the roast seem to be the same as the fish, but it being chicken is what made it different and quite tasty for the little one. The ghee rice was very average and quite lacking in the ghee factor, ending up making it too dry a combination for the little one. Not to worry though as there was plenty of gravy on the table to go around. 

Naimeen Varthathu 

Chicken Roast with the ghee rice below

Ghee Rice

 I did not want to go in for the thali which my mom had eventually. I went in for the Malabari mutton biryani. Nothing that I would rave about, but the rice was nicely done, the meat soft and ample in number and the spice levels a little high leaving with a good buzz at the end of the meal. The raita helps a bit for those not too with spice.

Malabari Mutton Biryani

We had some Chicken Masala, which junior enjoyed with her paratha and us with some boiled rice. To those from the coastal side and familiar with coconut based gravies, this one tastes just like the ones made at home. The chicken though is a bit tough.

Chicken Masala

Bangda Masala  

You can take the Mangalorean out of Mangalore but not the Mangalorean 'ness' out of him. Take my dad to any restaurant anywhere and what he will be happiest with is a fish curry or fry and rice. He went in for the Bangda masala. I personally don't like bangda (too lazy to pick the fine bones out), but I tasted the masala on this one which was spicy and perfect for that afternoon meal. But dad felt the fish was not as fresh. Mom went in for the fish thali and was very happy with her red boiled rice the fish curry, veggies, curries, pickles and payasam. She was the only one to get a sweet dish at all. Nothing was available when we asked - it was all over. 

The fish thali

We went there for dinner again another night because we wanted to taste more - we started with their beef dry fry which was discreetly called meat dry fry on their hand-written menu. Not really tender beef, more the rubbery, chewy Spar variety, though the masala was good. 

Beef dry fry

I wanted to eat the Kappa Meen curry mainly to see if it matched up to the yumminess of the version I had from Appam Corner. While the fish curry was tangy and spicy (I mean really spicy), the tapioca could have done with being a but more softer. If it had mashed well into the gravy, it would have been a much tastier version. 

Kappa Meen Curry

We also order Inji Puttu or ginger laced puttu and some Kerala paratha, both brilliant and went brilliantly well with the meen curry and the Kozhi Vartharacha Curry. There was also some appam on the table, though  the edges were not as crisp or the center soft and deep as it should have been. The chicken curry was mildly spiced, definitely coconut based and good on the taste factor. 

Inji Puttu

Kerala Parota


Kozhi Vartharacha Curry

Service here is quick and if you speak in Malayalam, then you get a few additional smiles from the staff. While I wouldn't say the food is brilliant, it does make for a very pleasant meal when you are in the area. The dishes are by and large good with a few niggling factors that could bring the overall quality down. Definitely worth a visit once. And definitely try their Malabari Fish curry, which is what we had at the party mentioned earlier. Both the visits put together cost us around Rs 1000, making the place economical as well. The loo is clean.

Address: 143 Near Anand Sweets, 5th block, Munireddy Kalyana Mandapa Road, Koramangala. 
Phone: 25507373
Cuisine: Kerala
Wallet factor: Rs 500 for two 
Accepts Cards: Yes
Parking: Arm yourself with a lot of good luck charms

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