THERE ISN’T A PALATE MORE DIVERSE THAN AN INDIAN ONE. AND YOU’D BE HARD PRESSED TO FIND THAT KIND OF VARIETY FROM JUST A SINGLE SECTION OF THE COUNTRY ANYWHERE ELSE.
One of the earnest ideas behind The Permit Room is to introduce people to the sheer variety of traditional South Indian cuisine, but with a modern-day take on it.
Essentially it's recipes from your ajji's (Kannada for grandma) kitchen, but served in a rather modern, and also cocktail-friendly form. Your ajji may or may not approve.
We have four new glorious additions to our Menu, and we’re rather excited for you to try them
This time, the Fish Polichatthu.
The shortened version of it is that this dish is a toddy shop recipe of brown grouper fish in spicy coconut, mango and green chilli masala, baked in a banana leaf. Let’s break that down now.
First up, Toddy Shop.
But before that, toddy.
‘Toddy’ is a British-coined term that refers to kallu, a liquid made from tapping the sap of a coconut or palm tree.
Right out of the sap, toddy isn’t even an alcoholic drink. It’s actually quite sweet. But as it sits in the hollowed bamboo jugs that it is traditionally stored in, it turns into a pretty formidable alcoholic beverage. Sometimes within a matter of hours.
Which then brings us to Toddy Shops, that are essentially small restaurants, usually run by a family, in which the region’s local liquor is sold, such as and for example, toddy. And they’ve got an almost poetic presence in South-Indian pop culture.
They were originally just meant to be shops where people could come get an afternoon drink, but over time have evolved into full blown kitchens as well. To the point that toddy shop food has become a type of sub-cuisine in itself. Usually made from local ingredients and terribly spicy, to add complement your toddy and sort of balance the strong toddy flavour.
Next part, Grouper Fish.
Grouper is a large-mouthed heavy-bodied fish of the Serranidae family. They’re widely found in warm seas and are usually dully coloured in greens or browns, but a number are brighter, more boldly patterned fishes.
Ours is the brown kind, but ain’t nothing dull about it.
The ultimate South-Indian garnish, and nothing says it better than this really.
Really, you sprinkle coconut shavings on something and it automatically has South-Indian street cred.
Try it. Take some coconut shavings, sprinkle it on whatever is near you, and tell us whether it magically doesn’t seem more South-Indian somehow.
Mango makes everything better, plain and simple. So that’s that.
Green Chilli Masala
Because what’s life without a little spice, and other cringe-inducing quotes like that?
This is the ultimate South-Indian wrapping paper for anything, that instantly adds a quaint touch but also plays the dual role of adding flavour to the dish.
Nothing says South-Indian like something wrapped in a banana leaf. (Apart from coconut shavings. Tied for first place.)
But now you know the whole thought and sentiment that went into this dish. Which must instantly make it irresistible to you. And if it doesn’t, just quickly sprinkle some coconut shavings.