Chef Jaishanker is determined to revive your grandmother’s recipes. At newly launched Sangamithirai, set in the plush Feathers Hotel, Manapakkam, his menu is inspired by his travels to remote villages in Madurai, Pollachi, Karaikudi and other regions in Tamil Nadu.
“We have forgotten our grandmother’s recipes,” he says. Hence, his menu, like a walk down memory lane, features childhood favourites like nenjelumbu rasam, karandi omelette, banana leaf halwa, and more.
General manager S Sriram says that the ingredients used to prepare meals have been sourced from farmers running free farms where farmers cater directly to buyers. The ghee used here is made from the milk of countryside cows. Utensils in the kitchen are mostly made of brass and some dishes are cooked on the charcoal fire to accentuate taste. All masalas are hand pounded on a manual grinder by home cook Uma Devi who has 45 years of experience cooking rustic authentic Tamil food.
The interiors of the restaurant are embellished with heritage silk Kancheepuram sarees framed into wall hangings. GI-tagged Thanjavur dolls sit on each table and patrons are treated with a plate of complementary pappadums that come with coconut, ginger onion and tomato based dips respectively.
We start exploring the menu with a bowl of nenjelumbu rasam or mutton ribs soup. The simple preparation is light, peppery, and ideal even for summers. A shot of omum water or rose water soda acts as a delicate palate cleanser. As you eat, try your hand at the pallankuzhi board, laid out for patrons to learn and play the traditional Tamil board game.
Next, we tried the rasa podi nethili veruval or shallow fried anchovies, zingy with lemon. To contrast the anchovies, we ordered the famed lamb ghee roast. However, although the molten gravy was imbued with flavours – they spices did not percolate into the meat, which was rather tough.
Try the black chicken or kadaknath chicken sourced from Madurai. This relatively rare chicken tastes almost like mutton, and has a brownish black hue like lamb meat. While the preparation was flavourful, the meat was not tender.
Although dishes on the menu come in small portion sizes adequate for one person. The oddball on the menu — a peppery mutton biriyani is a generous serve.
As we finish the last morsels of biriyani, we try the paal kozhu kattai for dessert. Made from coconut milk, the weak gravy was mild yet soothing after a heavy meal.
The cost for two with alcoholic beverages is ₹3500. Sangamithirai is located at 4, 129, Mount Poonamallee Rd, Manapakkam, Chennai. For reservations call 044 6677 6969.