They say, certain cuisines need a definite mood to be enjoyed. For many of us, enjoying the South Indian palate has more often been a select affair, but even after days of planning, it only took us a sudden whim to land up at the quaint Carnatic Cafe. Right at the corner of the New Friends Colony Market, the South Indian restaurant has an interesting decor, affable staff, and for what waited to surprise us all, food that you will never forget.
The warm lighting infuses a sense of warmth in a simplistic dining hall, which is full of amiable faces. The staff is incredibly helpful in helping you choose the right dishes, and in all the time we have been there, not once have we gone wrong with our selection. A plate of two idlis and two vadas served with three different chutneys set the tone of the dinner. The idlis melt in your mouth, and the vadas have the perfect balance of lightness and crunch. Try the idlis with the onion-garlic-ginger chutney, and the taste is as close to perfect as we could hope for.
Moving on to the rice that Carnatic Cafe serves, each day has a different speciality from the cook, and this place is about as good as Lemon Rice could possibly be. The folks at Carnatic Cafe call it Chitra Anna – an neat way of letting you relate to the food and setting up the right ambience. We can also vouch for Wangi Bath – Brinjal Masala Rice, with the near-perfect balance of spices and flavours!
It is unlike what you have possibly had among the staple South Indian fare, and takes us all the way back to the time when we used to celebrate every time our mothers declared that dinner for the night are homemade dosas
The star attraction, though, are the dosas. You can choose from the more regular variants that include Ghee Roast, Rava Coconut, Paper Masala dosas and more! We, though, often shifted our focus on the specialties. Benne Khali (Benne means butter, as the menu will clearly tell you) is among our absolute favourites – a perfect crunch to the dosa, with generous helpings of white butter, make this a light yet supremely delicious dosa to have. Malleshwaram 18th Cross, the dosa named after an iconic Bangalore street, is wonderful to have if you are not quite in the mood for a plain dosa, and yet, do not crave for heavy masala in it. Served with chutney and made with ample white butter, this one here is among the customer favourites, they say. We could see why!
The most unique dosa you will have at Carnatic Cafe is Neer – an essentially plain dosa that is as soft as a piece of cloth. As the name suggests, Neer is made with coconut and water, and you feel the distinct flavour of coconut fused with the lightness of water as soon as you take your first bite. Neer is served with the three standard chutneys, and a special, coconut jaggery chutney. It is unlike what you have possibly had among the staple South Indian fare, and takes us all the way back to the time when we used to celebrate every time our mothers declared that dinner for the night are homemade dosas. Neer, according to us, is what gives us absolute conviction and reason to believe that this is the best possible South Indian restaurant in town, and nothing can take away the wonder of the first bite of a Neer dosa.
In terms of beverages, the restaurant keeps it simple, with Majjige (masala butter milk), Shant Shanti Majjige (plain butter milk), filter kappi, fresh lime soda and aerated drinks based on availability. We couldn’t wonder why Coca Cola happened to be the less-preferred here, with the excellent fresh lime soda and the sharply flavoured butter milk at hand.
To top all of this, yet again, is a dessert that you would not have had too frequently. Obbattu tastes like a very well-made crepe, only that it is not. It is Carnatic Cafe’s own genius, the hidden gem to bid you the perfect farewell. Flavoured with coconut, sweetened with jaggery and complemented with warm milk and the perfect tinge of cardamom, Obbattu leaves you not only with a sweet palate, but a warm fuzz that makes you feel at home here. We have not had the chance to try out the pineapple rawa halwa (Kesari Bath), but in our defence, we simply could not leave without Obbattu!
For every fan of the South Indian fare, Carnatic Cafe gives you a home away from home, where you not only relish what you eat, but keep wondering how some places manage to make food taste this good
A hearty meal for two at Carnatic Cafe costs about Rs. 600-800.
The warmth and comfort is what amplifies the experience, and leaves you no doubt on why the culinary sciences have often been shaded with distinct emotions. For every fan of the South Indian fare, Carnatic Cafe gives you a home away from home, where you not only relish what you eat, but keep wondering how some places manage to make food taste this good.
If you are in New Delhi, Carnatic Cafe is a must-stop to make.