Kokkarakko crowing with Kadaknath chicken and a mega meal
By Venkatachari Jagannathan
Want to eat like the Bakaasura (the demon in the Mahabharatha epic)? A meal consisting of 63 dishes?Welcome to Kokkarakko, a new restaurant in Chennai. And no prizes for guessing the main ingredient in the dishes offered here.
At a time when many chicken-based restaurants are reluctant to serve the Kadaknath -- the black chicken with medicinal properties -- Kokkarakko has dared to put it on its menu.
While the restaurant decor is simple, one gets the hint of Tamil film connections in its name Kokkarakko (a 1983 Tamil movie) and in the names of a few dishes.
"The owners wanted a name with 2/3 'Ks' in it, and the instant choice was Kokkarakkoo," said Chef S. Koushik, the promoter of the Eatitude food and beverage consultancy.
Some of the dishes remind us of famous Tamil movie/comedy scenes/punch lines of Tamil actor Vadivelu like "puli kesi", kozhi 65 (read it as kozhi arupathi anju) and "vanam aluthuruven".
"We wanted an element of fun for guests as they browsed through the menu card," Koushik reasoned while serving the vadams/sandige and four different dips and kulki soda, rose milk and padaneer beverages.
He said there are plans to launch a 63-dish mega meal for Rs 669 plus taxes.
The rose milk with floating basil seeds clean-bowled me with its flavour and taste.
"We extract the essence from the rose flower and for getting the rose colour we use a beetroot," Koushik shared the secret.
While the padaneer/neera fusion needs slight tinkering as it tasted more like a panagam -- a drink made during the Ramanavami festival.
One can add a small pinch of mirapakai pachadi/chilli dip to the kulki soda (ginger+green chilli drink) to spice it up slightly.
Spicing things up further was Koushik's own story of how he rebelled against his parents to join the Institute of Hotel Management, Bengaluru, meeting his educational expenses by doing odd jobs; shaking hands with actor Amitabh Bachchan and telling this with excitement to his fiance -- only to get a bland response: So what?
At that point, the vegetarian starters -- chettinadu bashed potato, karukumuruku venda kai (crispy okra), chepankizhangu/colocasia roast, tandoori pookosu (tandoored cauliflower), the soft Lahori paneer tikka and mothi mushroom arrived at the table.
All the dishes tasted good, but the crispy okra and the spicy colocasia roast stood out from the rest.
In the non-vegetarian section, the adventurous can try out the Kokkarakkoo lollypop served in three spice levels -- puli kesi, vendam aluthuruven and vedi murugan.
"Eating the spicy lollypop is like reaching orgasm -- a combo of pain and pleasure," Koushik said.
The kozhi vepudu, Nellore kodi tikka, Kokkarakko fried chicken and mirapakai kodi tasted good with varying spice levels.
"For the past three years I have wanted to serve Kadaknath chicken, and that desire finally got realised here," Koushik explained.
"A true chicken meat lover will go for country chicken or for Kadaknath and certainly not for the puffed-up broiler birds," he added.
Continuing with his own story, Koushik said: "For a long time my parents did not tell other relatives that I did a hotel management course and was working as a chef.
"It was after I started hosting a cookery show in a popular Tamil TV channel that many relatives came to know that I was a chef. I became a sort of celebrity in the family circle," he mused.
After working with Leela Kempinski, Cafe Coffee Day, Qwiky's, Javagreen and other places Koushik realised his karma was in the kitchen. He floated Eatitude in 2006 and has consulted several restaurants within and outside India.
Speaking of Kokkarakko, he said the premises had earlier housed another restaurant brand which didn't do well. "Putting up a new restaurant at the same place where a different brand failed is really a challenging task," Koushik said.
It was time for another kulki soda to ease the fast-filling tummy.
For the main course, roti and bhindi jaipurai were good. So was the zaffron (saffron) chawal with Chettinad mushroom and the spicy muttai kara peratal (a spicy dry egg curry dish).
The Kadaknath curry along with the flavourful chicken leg piece and steamed rice were made-for-each-other -- leaving guests happy.
For those with a sweet tooth, there are fusion desserts like coconut pudding, rose falooda, pomegranate payasam, panjamirutham panacotta and black forest akkaravadisal.
What: New restaurant Kokkarakko
Where: Velvette House, Dr.Ambedkar Salai, Kodambakkam
When: 12 noon to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Cost for two: About Rs 1,500 plus taxes-IANS