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Sindhudurg 

What Malvani cuisine
Where Ground Floor, Splendid Hotel Apartments, near Lamcy Plaza; 04 336 0004
Why For a delicious spread of coastal delicacies
Cost Dh40-60 (Thalis) and Dh80-100 (à la carte)

We had high expectations when we recently visited Dubai's newly opened Sindhudurg restaurant. The original Sindhudurg, which is situated in Dadar, has long been a famous culinary spot in Mumbai. It has popularised Malvani cuisine since the 1980s. For the uninitiated, Malvan is a town in Maharashtra's picturesque Konkan coastal region, with a delightful cuisine that relies heavily on rice, coconut and seafood.

Smiling staff greeted us in the chic and contemporary setting. As an opener, a cool and refreshing glass of Kokum Saaar was served. This lovely pink and tangy beverage made from coconut milk and Kokum (sour berries) is a famous Malvani speciality, which can be had on its own and also goes perfectly with rice.

Going for different thalis (mutton, chicken, fish and vegetarian) and ordering a few other à la carte items, we sampled practically every major item on the menu. Tallele Maase (semolina-fried king fish and pomfret) tasted fresh and crisp. The non-vegetarian curries were perfectly cooked and deliciously flavoured.

Some of our favourites was the Suke mutton (dry mutton), Kombadi masala (chicken curry) and Kolambi masala (prawn curry). Even the vegetable dishes - Bharli Vangi (stuffed brinjals) and Bhendi masala (spicy okra) were surprisingly good. The surprise factor is because we were tasting a vegetable dish in Sindhudurg for the first time in our lives. The coconut base and unique blend of freshly ground spices adds just the right amount of flavour to all these dishes. Apparently, the major ingredients used come directly from the owner's family farm.

Every region in India has a special type of bread to call its own and Malvan has Vada, a lightly spiced, puffed-up fried bread made with rice flour and pulses. Believe me, it is the Vada, which gives Malvani cuisine that edge! We rounded off our sumptuous lunch with sweets - gulab jamun and gaajaracha halwa (carrot), which were just as good as the savoury dishes. As we got up to leave, you could tell how much we had enjoyed our meal from the smiles on our faces. The taste of Malvani cuisine is going to linger for a long time to come.

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