There is Cape Comorin in the southernmost part of India in Kanyakumari. Then there is Comorin, a gastropub, in up north, Gurgaon, NCR. A novel concept of Chef Manish Mehrotra of Indian Accent fame, Comorin has successfully brought the rustic flavours of down south to the north and on the way, it picked up few flavours and beautifully amalgamated those to create wonders for your palate. You get the famous Bengali Banana Leaf Bhetki Fish done with south Indian masala, Haleem from Hyderabad with Bakarkhani from Bangladesh, Tawa Chicken Rara from North topped with Parsi Style Eggs and then there are dishes which are brought to your table in its purity yet excellence of the culinary art. Chicken Pepper Fry or the Vada Pav or Gun Powder Idli or Bheja Fry or Cheeni Malai Toast are to die for. We had a great experience early this week. Let me share it with you here.
I had heard a lot about Comorin for it has been there for the past couple of years in Horizon Centre in Gurgaon. Whosoever went there, spoke high of the food. So, early this week, four of us went for lunch. We spent close to three hours, enjoying the lovely drinks (non-alcoholic though), excellent food, interesting friend talks and lots of fun. I am all for going there again, all for the love of food.
The place is observing all the norms for ensuring safety for guests. Mask, Temperature measuring and Sanitizing your hands are compulsory for entering. The menu has to be read by scanning the QR Code displayed on the table with your Cell Phone. The menu has sections like Beverages in various sub heads, Small (Starters), Large (Main Course), Extra Large (huge portions of mains to serve 2-3) and Desserts. Out of four of us, one was a vegetarian and rest were non-veg. So, here is how our experience unfolded.
We ordered two Vegetarian and two Non-Vegetarian Dishes.
Gun Powder Idli
12 Mini Sized, golden Idli sat beautifully in a plate with a sparing sprinkling of Gun Powder (south Indian Podi), Curry Leaves, golden fried Cashew nuts and garnished with Guntur Dried Red Chilli arrived. The plate of Idli was accompanied with a tricolour serving of three types of Chutney.
The looks were so inviting that the first Idli was picked up directly from the serving plate with a fork and tasted. The soft rice ball was drenched in Ghee, the amount of Podi was just right, the Curry Leaves bits provided that tinge and had a hint of Lemon. Cashews provided the right amount of nuttiness. A bite of the Red Chilli completed the experience. Wow ! What a start.
This Mumbai local is a personal favourite. For the purpose of convenience, I have termed it as Vada Pav where as the menu say Comorin Pav Vada. Four bite sized pieces of the beauty arrived sitting in a plate and each held together by a pick as in a burger. The size was just apt to handle. The Pav was super soft and authentic. Vada had that garlicy tinge and so was the garlic chutney. The spice quotient was perfect while maintaining the authenticity of the local taste. Yet another, amazing starter.
As soon as the Haleem was served, this slow cooked combo of Meat and Lentils gave a look and aroma of authenticity. It did not have a drop of extra ghee and yet was aptly moist. The golden brown pasty content was garnished with chopped coriander, brown onions, ginger juliennes and cashew. The surprise accompaniment was Bakarkhani, a crispy flat bread from Bangladesh, with a lavish sprinkling of Sesame Seeds.
The first spoonful of Haleem told me it is as authentic as it could be. The meat content was perfectly complemented with the lentils and both blended very well with mild spices and supported with ghee. It was sticky to the right extent. Went very well with that mildly sweet crispy Bakarkhani.
This golden mound of paneer look-alike Bheja Fry (Brain Curry) with intermittent peeping out of chopped Green Chili was served on a leaf with a set of greased Tandoori Khasta Roti. The first spoonful of the dish on the palate and it was spicy, did not have the regular paste like texture, rather had chunks and the Green Chili provided the sharpness to the curry. The dish, once again, was a pleasant surprise which went very well with the Tandoori Roti. Keeping the Bheja which had a bite to it is the killer and places the dish several notches up the regular versions. It’s an art.
Banana Leaf Bhetki
Since I am fond of Bengali Bhetki Paturi, I had to order this. Little did I realise that I would be in for a pleasant surprise. What came in was a big plate with a yellow-orange masala wrapped Fish peeping out of the blanket of Banana Leaf. Now, you get best of Bhetki Fish in West Bengal (although a variant is there in western part of India too). I was expecting the Bhetki fillets wrapped in green mustard paste but no, this was not the case here.
The removal of the green veil revealed a big fillet (around 80 grams) of Bhetki wrapped in the South Indian Mean Masala of Coconut, Tamrind, Jaggery with spices. Ooooooh ! The aroma was inviting. An effortless slicing with the fork told me it was fresh, silken soft and flaky. The first spoonful on the palate and the South Indian Masala exploded the flavours followed by the tasty fish. A real delight.
Pro Tip : It takes around twenty minutes or slightly more to get this done. We ordered this along with the mains. Therefore, it came the last, just before the dessert. Order it along with your starters so that it arrives just before the main course. This goes perfectly in between the starters and the main course.
Malai Paneer Rara
This much improved version of Paneer Butter Masala is an amazing dish for the vegetarians. Quite a few balls of Paneer, resembling boiled eggs, sitting in a yellowish-red gravy and garnished with chopped Green Chili and Coriander leaves is a delight to look at. The dish is served with a set of Chilli Mint Parantha. The Paranthas are a delight to look at for they are crushed in a traditional style before serving and are super soft and flaky. The curry is tangy, spicy and has a mild bite to it. The Paneer Balls are silken soft and are melt in mouth. This is an amazing combo.
Chicken Pepper Fry
This Chicken Pepper Fry is yet another magic here. The curry has a thick gravy unlike the dry version which we normally get in Andhra cuisine or in other parts of south India. The gravy is brownish in colour and is rich in looks. Garnished with Curry Leaves and Coconut shavings, the curry is a delight. It has notes of black pepper and yet does not overpower the spices and other ingredients. The meat is silken soft and melt in mouth. I could have the curry on its own.
The curry comes along with Malabar Parotta. This again is super soft, crushed before serving and is flaky. I could have it on its own. Went very well with Chicken Pepper Fry. We enjoyed the combo so much that an extra helping of the Parotta was ordered.
Tawa Chicken Rara
A golden curry topped with Half Fried Eggs landed on the table. Along with it came a plate with four Ladi Pav. We got confused for the dish and the combo looked like the Parsi Kheema Par Eeda. We checked again from the sever and was confirmed that it was Tawa Chicken Rara.
A quick digging of my spoon in the dish and in my mouth….. oooh. It was a blend of north and west. The chicken gravy had minced chicken meat, true to the nature of a rara dish. The meat morsels were soft. The dish had a predominant north flavour, including a hint of the animal fat. The crunch of the minced meat gave a body and a bite to the gravy. The fried eggs gave it an added taste with a Parsi touch. I am sure, the dish would have a hint of the typical Parsi Sambhar Masala too for that completes the taste. The Pav was, again super soft and complemented the dish, very well.
By this time, we were full. But how could one leave without their hero dessert, Cheeni Malai Toast ? So we ordered one portion.
Three pieces of artisanal bread, toasted, was topped with thick layer of Malai with a lavish mix of large crystals of Sugar and garnished with Brioche Honeycomb Candy (Gur Gutta of our childhood in north). First bite, and the super soft rich Malai with Cheeni hits you which leads you to the toasted crust and then the Honeycomb Candy finishes your experience of caramelised sugar on the palate. Each bite will bring you closer to your childhood. I was full and yet I wanted more and more of this. It is a wonder that how a basic household improvisation of yesteryears has been converted into a dessert with high quality ingredients. Only a master could do it.\
Four of us had a great time. This was an amazing lunch with amazing dishes, basic authentic flavours, amalgamation of different flavours which not only tickled your taste buds but also surprised them. The experience was amazing and nostalgic too. If you have had a similar experience here or at any other place, do let me know. Would love to try. Till then…
Bon Appetite !!