Monday, November 2, 2015

Southern Aroma - Markham Restaurant for the Spicy Tongues

Southern Aroma is a relatively new restaurant to the South Indian/Sri Lankan (Tamil) food scene. It is located in Markham.
The interior is simple but very South Asian, with statues of Hindu gods etc adorning various locations. Water is served in copper stainless steel tumblers, which is quite interesting because traditionally in some parts of India and Sri Lanka, you are not supposed to drink off a tumbler with your lips touching its edge.


You are supposed raise your face, open your mouth, raise the tumbler even further up and then pour the water towards your opened lips. In a restaurant, of course, no one can drink like that; hence, I was curious.
They also provided hot, wet towels, a novelty for a GTA-based Indian restaurant.

Squid (cuttlefish) Thali
Squid Curry Thali

I have to concede that I have never seen such generous portions of curries given for thali. of thali. There were an incredible nine dishes including the dessert, and the dishes were bigger (in amount) than what I am used to getting in Canada when I order thali.
The following dishes were part of the thali in addition to the squid curry: the ubiquitous dhal curry, paneer (Indian cottage cheese) with chickpeas, pumpkin curry, soya chunks curry, eggplant and channa dhal, a mixed-vegetable gravy, a yoghurt dish with diced onions and a dessert – gulab jamun.
I always like the squid cooked to retain some of its chewiness because only then will the curry release its best taste, and I love that. The curry retained the chewiness and it was moderately spicy.
The rest of the curries, except for the dhal curry and the yoghurt mixture, were more on the spicier side but not too spicy. Perhaps that is the downside of the thali setup – there was not much contrast in tastes or colour. All were mostly brown. I would have preferred a few non-spicy items, such as a second salad.

Vanni Mutton Kulambu (Mutton Curry)
Vanni Mutton Kulambu

For those who wonder what this long name means, Vanni is the vast mainland in northern Sri Lanka. A significant portion of it is made up of forests where traditionally game is available and one could assume the curries made there are more robust in nature because of the unavailability of the finer ingredients available in a city. Kulambu (also written kuzhambu) is the Tamil name for curry with a substantial amount of gravy.
The menu card promised of a rustic free range mutton dish cooked with rustic inspiration. The dish came with a thick sauce and the mutton was not overcooked. The amount was liberal too, with fried red chillies, but it was not too spicy. I thought I detected a tinge of sweetness that may have come from the use of tomatoes. As a matter of principle, I do not like tomatoes in spicy curries.

Chettinad Gardein Chicken
Chettinadu Gardein Chicken

It was the first time I had seen gardein chicken. The menu card says it is ‘quinoa-based mock chicken’, cooked according to the famous Chettinadu style.
It piqued my interest so I ordered that.
The ‘chicken’ chunks were good – the texture almost matched that of regular chicken albeit the bones.
It was quite spicy as well, as one would expect from a Chettinadu-style dish. In fact, this was the spiciest dish of all.

Final Comments

This is a great restaurant for those wanting to taste some South Indian/Sri Lankan (Tamil) style dishes. The prices are reasonable and the service is good.

No comments:

Post a Comment