Malnad sits at the top of the Western Ghats, and hence is on the windward side of the approaching annual south west monsoons, and hence rainfall here is in abundance. The cuisine here is quite similar to the cuisine in South Canara (Mangalore and surrounding areas), although there are a few differences here and there, notably the use of pepper (image of mutton pepper dry) and few other spices in most dishes, that would otherwise be missing from the recipes of most dishes from South Canara.
For starters, we went whole hog and nearly out did ourselves (on both occasions). The mutton masala was simply fabulous, with the meat cooked extremely tender and the masala used was quite superb. The ghee roast was a copy of the famous dish from Kundapur (near Udupi, where the dish took birth) and since imitation is the best form of flattery, this ghee roast did a good job - the ghee still dripping off the pieces. Both dishes were cooked so well that the meat was just falling off the bones. Delicious doesn't begin to describe it!
Fish! Just had to have some fish. Being a Mangalorean, it would be sacrilege to not :) and the seer fish (anjal) fried in a banana leaf with a red chilli paste marinade was just what the doctor ordered (actually it's what Ms BakeAnything ordered). And it was just as heavenly as the other dishes ordered. Now most of the dishes ordered thus far had a very similar marinade (if not the same) consisting of red chillies, garlic, turmeric, fenugreek among others.
A few of the other dishes we had were the prawn masala (very similar to the ghee roast and anjal fish fry), the Malnad chicken (dry), and badane (brinjal/egg plant) sukka (a dry preparation with grated coconut and spices mixed), and a local favourite, the mutton pepper dry. The prawns were quite good, and the brinjal sukka (the lone veg dish during the review) was also very nicely done. The Malnad chicken was high on colour and decoratives, but low on flavour, while the mutton pepper dry was just that - dry and a little chewy!
For the main course, we chose to have the neer dosa, akki roti, appams, and shavige along with the Malnad chicken curry. The neer dosas were the best I've had outside of home, without a doubt, and kudos to the restaurant for getting it spot on (even in restaurants serving Mangalorean and Bunt food I've not had them this good). The batter for the appams had fermented quite a bit more than necessary and the strong smell was a turn off. The akki roti and shavige (Bunts and Mangaloreans alike, we call this semeda addye), served in the shape of an idli, were quite nice along with the chicken curry.
Desserts were a tempered affair, with us settling for the tender coconut payasa, which was quite delightful and refreshing actually (maybe we should start off our meals with this!) and a pumpkin halwa, again, something that I quite liked. I'm not sure about the Malnad region, but in South Canara cuisine, we do make a lot of halwas, and when I say halwa, don't think of it only as the stretchy, rubbery 'chunks' or blocks of sweet-meat that's made, but more along the likes of the carrot halwa. Typically, vegetables like ash gourd and pumpkin are used and there are copious amounts of cashew nuts and raisins thrown into it, along with a lot of ghee. Literally a heart stopper, but delicious none the less.
Food: Very good
$$$: If you go whole hog and eat properly, it may come to about 400 or 500 per head, but otherwise around 300-400 per head would be the average
Verdict: Must visit if in the area
The Narayan's Suggi, 683/A II Phase, Near Delmia, JP Nagar, Bangalore. Phone: 40988636, 40988637