Thursday, April 30, 2009

Calicut Paragon

Calicut Paragon
Opp Lulu Centre
+971 4 3335 8700

Calicut Paragon is a Malabari (Kerala) restaurant with many decades of history in India. This was a restaurant that was highly recommended to me by my Mallu friends in Egypt and given the huge queues outside this restaurant each Friday, I have never been able to eat here on my previous visits to Dubai. For a change, I found myself in this area on a week night and the queue outside wasn't serpentine.

Seating is basic, but comfortable. There was a certificate on display that all the staff had attended some heavy duty hygiene training. All the staff including the serving staff wore hair nets. Hehehe. Men in shower caps with mustaches showing - its quite a sight, I tell you! Fresh fish was on display at the counter, so you could pick your choice.

We settled for a very basic meal, that was reminiscent of home for me. Kerala cooking style is very similar and overlaps with the Manglorean style of cooking, especially in the sea food domain. I had a king fish mango curry (18dhs) and squid varathiyathu (26dhs) with appam (1.5dhs per piece). The fish curry was a red coconut curry made with green mango. The last time I had this dish with prawns, it was made by my grandmother who passed away just over a month ago. Eating this curry, had me close to tears, as I never thought I would be able to taste food the way nana made it, ever again. The squid was a spicy semi dry prepration with roasted coconut and curry leaves. The appams were just right, light and crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy in the center. I could make a meal of just the appams.

All the biriyanis were already over, even though it was not yet 9pm. Husband being on a vegetarian diet, had the kerala paratha (thin, flaky and layered 2dhs/piece) a malabari dal curry (10dhs) and ghee rice (10dhs) The rice had nuts and raisins in it and was more of a pilaf than ghee rice, but very tasty. It was served with chutney, a sweet and a spicy pickle, coconut chutney and two pieces of Kerala Pappadums. (very different from North Indian Pappadums)

A large bottle of mineral water costs 3dhs. I saw someone at the neighbouring table being poured a red liquid in their water glass and I promptly requested my own share of hot water. This was a drink I last had, in copious quantities, over 12 years ago when traveling on a students budget across Kerala. Mineral water in those days was very expensive and not something you would buy, when on a budget. Most small Kerala restaurants in those days served hot water boiled with some herbs in copper/brass tumblers. The herbs turned the water red and imparted a faint taste to the water which wasn't unpleasant. This was the first time, I was seeing this water being served, since ages. Would appreciate it, if someone could tell me what the herbs used in this water are and the purpose of these herbs (appetiser, digestive, cooling for the humid heat?)

My friends had highly recommended the chootu (small fish) fry, but I really wanted the green mango curry and some squid. Paragon does serve some North Indian style food, but its the mallu food that is outstanding at this joint. This is a restaurant that I would love to keep going back to.

Here's a link to Time Out's Review


Anonymous said...

The herbs used in hot water is called Pathimukam - this is a mixture differents types of roots. They are available in indian supermarkets like Sunrise and LuLu

Kim said...

Thank you, whoever you are. That really helps.


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