In Search Of A Vegetarian Father’s Day
I pick Coringa (in Koramangala) as my venue of choice to take Dad out for a meal on Father’s Day. Despite our background and reputation of being carnivores - we are Mangaloreans - Dad is (mostly) a vegetarian. Besides, Coringa is around the corner from where he lives.
Coringa is an speciality Andhra restaurant, one that is is vastly different from the norm. Theirs is the exotic sounding Coastal Andhra cuisine from the East Godavari district of AP.
They make a serious effort to stay authentic and therefore, a good part of this restaurant’s menu cannot be easily found available in most other Andhra restaurants.
They first started five years ago at Hebbal, but luckily for me, opened their Koramangala outlet 3 months ago. The menu staple is “Andhra Bhojanam” (thali meals)and this location boasts a bar.
I am blown away by Coringa’s simplicity and flavors of the home. While seafood and other non-vegetarian fare is their forte, their vegetarian fare is great. I dare say that even committed meat lovers, like me, will not miss the meat for the crisp arvi or a gooey stuffed brinjal or a melt in the mouth cube of yam or a crunchy banana stem stir fry or even an unusual, stuffed bitter gourd (yes indeed). (In fact I have unilaterally renamed their stuffed Karela to Stuffed Carol’a, after my name.)
They also serve seasonal dishes like raw jackfruit stir fry, raw jackfruit biryani and even the very rare, stuffed Teasel gourd aka Kantola. The simple dal (called Pappu) has various delightful avatars - something that pleases even my fussy vegetarian Iyer. I could write odes to their vast vegetarian menu but I will go into raptures over their gorgeously multi-hued lobsters, crabs, prawns and even chicken and mutton. I am not a chicken person, but their chilli chicken is a must-taste. Literally chillies and chicken, this is an eye-watering delight for those who can handle the heat.
The milder cashew mutton with its liberal sprinkling of the nut, would be a good option for the less adventurous. As far as seafood is concerned, I do prefer mine subtly seasoned and their style is a bit heavy on the masalas. However, the freshness of their catch cannot be disputed and theirs comes almost directly from sailing vessel to a cooking one, sometimes the catch is barely a day old. Of some reassurance, they will happily tone down (or turn up) the spice level on request.
They also have a range of traditional drinks like buttermilk, tender coconut, starch water, or Panakkam to quench an accidental or deliberate fire in the gullet.
I cannot conclude without waxing eloquent on their desserts, for in no other restaurant have I seen the White Pumpkin Halwa or the sundried, finely layered mango jelly or the piece de resistance, the Poota Rekulus, which are rolled up layers of ultra fine sheets made of rice, sugar and coconut, to be popped into the mouth in one go.
Back to their authenticity, you won’t find paneer butter masala or gobi manchurian or its ilk to taint the purity of their offering. I like my specialty restaurants to stick to their speciality and not humour the public just to enhance business. To nitpick though, I don’t believe the Potato Cheese Balls and Crab Cheese Balls are exactly “Andhra” dishes. groundnut stuffing notwithstanding.
And back to Father’s Day, we’re definitely headed to Coringa. It panders to Pa’s tastes.
But dessert will be a cake from my oven. Albeit a multigrain, healthier version.
Caroline Radhakrishnan is a food lover with a brave palate that is open to sampling almost any cuisine. Her baking classes are very popular. She makes wines from fruits and vegetables and uses fresh and dry spices to give the wines an Indian taste. She can be contacted at [email protected]