A spread of traditional dishes on Independence Day was a fun way to celebrate the country’s richness in heritage, more specifically of its Southern states. Dakshina Puram, a quaint restaurant on the OMR Rajiv Gandhi Salai stretch, serves authentic vegetarian dishes of South India. A Vegetarian Food Festival is currently being held here, in which they whip up a galore of traditional delicacies across Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The restaurant is elegantly done up with antique pots and pieces and unique ethnic paintings. This livens up the place with some Tamil classics being played in the background. It is well spaced and ventilated. A typical next-door lunch/dinner spot.
The menu also resonates these vibes. They have specialities across tiffin and rice items from various regions of the South. We got to try quite a fair amount of their dishes across all courses. Starting with the soups, we had the Drumstick Soup and a Plantain pith (Vazhathandu) Soup. Both of these had distinct flavours and were equally appetising, the latter being slightly spicier seemed to be a close winner, though. After this came a galore of starters.
Madras Urulai (Potato) Fingers and Chepankilangu (Colocasia) Fry were my absolute favorites. The potato sticks were soft, chatpate and spicy, while the latter was super crisp with subtle hint of salt and spice. Apollo Paneer was another one of their specialties, from Andhra. The paneer, yellow from the flavour packed marination, was super tasty, but I felt it could’ve been slightly less tough. We also tried this Vada Platter which was a medley of Karamani, Vazhapoo (Plantain flower) and Keerai (Palak) Vadais which went perfectly with the delicious, fresh chutneys. Spicy Banana Fry and Veg Bur Burra (Veg balls, Manchurian type, this was a slightly greasy) were two other starters which were quite decent and tasted on point.
For mains, we got Neer Dosa (specialty from Karnataka made with coconut water) and Assorted Paniyaram. Being the Independence Day, these were tri-coloured! We were then told that they try to avoid food colouring and that the colours were from natural additives to the batter like carrot (orange) and curry leaves and palak (green). So each of these had a distinct taste. Light and fluffy, they were filled with authenticity and tradition. Then came the Akki Roti ( a specialty of Karnataka) & Virudhunagar Veechu Parotta. We chose Ullitheyal (Kerala speciality) as the gravy for this, and boy were we happy! The breads were perfect and the gravy was even more super delicious. The almost burnt taste with the subtle spice and super soft shallots was divine.
Another tiffin item we thought would go with this was their Puttu. They served a ‘Dry Fruits’ puttu that afternoon and it was completely filled with Tutti-Frutti. While the Puttu was as such authentic and heavy, the tutti-frutti was a bit too much in quantity for me and was overly sweet.
From the Rice section, we had our shot at the Bisi Bela Bath, Thali Meals (which came with Unlimited Poori/Kal Dosa) and the Curd Rice.
Special mention to the SIX different Pickles (including gongura, ginger, lemon, 2 types of raw mango) and three Podis (one was with sundried chillies and garlic, another with curry leaves and tamarind and the other was the evergreen paruppu/dal podi) for rice that was on the table! Each of these was unique, fresh and lived up to the taste. Another one of my favourite dishes of South India is the Chilly Parotta and the Thenkasi Chilly Parotta they served here was chunky, lightly crisp and well spiced, probably slightly oily.
Despite being filled up to our brims, we decided to have a hand at a few of their classic desserts. Chakka Ada Pradaman and Ela Ada were suggested to us. Too sweet and concentrated for my palate I couldn’t eat more than a spoon or two. While these were just about okay, the Sherbets they gave us seemed to be better by a lot! Diluted, flavoured and sweet it was the perfect end to the hearty meal. Rooh Afza Sherbet and the Blackcurrant Sherbet were my favourites from these.
Service was quite welcoming and hospitable. Located quite off the city, I feel this place would be a perfect place for a pure vegetarian lunch/dinner for the many many office goers and the families living around this area. Prices were reasonable and on par with the quality and quantity of the food. Dakshina Puram is a restaurant that you can visit to get your fix of must-try dishes from all of South India. The ongoing Vegetarian Food Festival will be held until the end of August.