Manjal, the recently launched restaurant at Kodambakkam, serving Kongu Nadu cuisine is another addition to Chennai’s culinary scene. Located at Chakrapani Street, this space was previously a dart club which is now converted into this simple and charming space.
Manjal resembles a traditional house with thinnai, wooden columns and built in wooden shelves. The red oxide flooring adorned with simple yet classy Kolam, adds a touch of earthiness to this place. Even the menu is designed like a traditional wedding invitation with ‘manjal’ smeared on the edges.
We were informed that there are no preservatives or artificial food colours used in the preparation of the food in this restaurant and the food is also cooked on wood fire.
We began our meal with Kozhi Rasam. I didn’t quite like it as it was very sour. The Vilathi Chicken Kebab was tender and delicious. Served as small bits with a toothpick, it was easy to eat. I enjoyed the Kari (Chicken) Idly which is idly broken into fine bits and sautéed with spices and tiny pieces of chicken. Never had something like this before. The Podi Idly on the other hand was just ok. The Kothu Idiyappam (veg) similar to the Kari idly but with Idiyappam sans the meat pieces was very tasty.
The Chintamani Chicken was packed with a lot flavor but the Mutton Moolai (Brain) fry stole the show. It was clearly the best dish. The brain was buttery soft and seasoned with a lot of spices. It was lip smacking good.
I was specially asked to try the bun parotta by a friend who had visited the restaurant earlier.
The Bun parotta was so fluffy and light. I liked the fact that it was not too oily. Clearly the best that I’ve had in Chennai. It was an ideal combination for all the curries as it soaked up the gravy really well. The Egg Veechu parotta was thin and soft. The Mutton Biryani although made with ‘seeraga sambha’ rice was brilliant. The meat was also cooked well.
The Kalakki needed a little more masala. The dosai didn’t live up to my expectations especially the Poondu Dosai and Podi Dosai.
They don’t serve desserts but we tried the Panagam and Nannari Sarbhat. The Panagam was not too sweet and the hint of lime in the Nannari Sarbhat took it to a whole new level. Both the drinks were just brilliant.
After a quick glance at the menu and I felt this place is very economical.
The food was dished out of the kitchen in quick succession and the staff were very helpful and courteous.
IN A NUTSHELL
Manjal is one of those joints where you can eat non vegetarian food to your heart’s content without leaving a hole in your pocket.
*This review is based on an on-the house meal by the restaurant.*