Note: it’s cheap and de­li­cious

The National - News - Arts & Life - - Front Page - Aarti Jhu­rani

I was in­tro­duced to Mal­abari food by my Ker­alite hus­band, and have re­ally come to ap­pre­ci­ate the flavour­ful cui­sine in the past few years.

There is no short­age of restau­rants and hole-in-the-wall es­tab­lish­ments sell­ing bud­get­priced Mal­abari food in Abu Dhabi, and hav­ing tried more than I can re­mem­ber, we have found one we know we can de­pend on for de­li­cious fare ev­ery time.

Tucked away in a cor­ner of the food court in Mad­i­nat Zayed, Cali­cut Note­book is a size­able, fam­ily-style restau­rant.

Its ex­haus­tive à la carte menu fea­tures a va­ri­ety of veg­e­tar­ian, seafood, chicken, lamb and beef dishes that pair well with the flaky and crisp Mal­abar porotta, soft and fluffy ap­pams, and steamed rice.

It tends to get a lit­tle busy on week­ends – for good rea­son. That is when it serves its thali, which comes with veg­eta­bles, two kinds of fish cur­ries, a Ker­ala-style chicken curry, pop­padom, rice, pickles, raita (yo­gurt with onion, cu­cum­ber and tomato), salad and payasam (a dessert with a milk base and ei­ther rice or lentils) – all for only Dh20.

The thali makes for a hearty meal and is de­li­cious, with all of the el­e­ments of­fer­ing unique flavours to savour.

The Mal­abar- style biri­ani, mean­while, is one of the most pop­u­lar items on the menu. Served only on Fri­days and Satur­days for lunch, it comes with raita, salad, pickles, pa­p­dum and payasam, at a cost of Dh15 for the chicken va­ri­ety and Dh21 for the lamb.

A size­able por­tion, with big chunks of meat, the biri­ani is fra­grant and yummy. What sets it apart from reg­u­lar biri­a­nis is the ad­di­tion of the “masala” – a re­duced gravy of spices mixed with toma­toes and onions – which adds to the taste.

On week­days, for lunch, Cali­cut Note­book of­fers meals for Dh12 that fea­ture a fish curry, veg­gies, rice, salad and raita.

As for the à la carte of­fer­ings, I’d rec­om­mend the ap­pams with the hearty veg­etable stew ( a co­conut gravy with veg­eta­bles, curry leaves and spices), and the steamed spicy fish in a banana leaf.

The ser­vice is friendly, and our reg­u­lar server al­ways comes over for a quick chat and keeps our favourite pop­pad­ums com­ing to the ta­ble. The restau­rant has a ca­sual vibe and is the kind of place where you need to roll up your sleeves and pre­pare to dig in with your hands.

Cour­tesy Aarthi Ju­rani

Cali­cut Note­book has a ca­sual vibe.

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