Kerala to Kathmandu

Flavours of Malabar at the Chhaya Centre in Thamel

When one thinks about South Indian food in Kathmandu, the image that comes to mind is the usual vegetarian fare: dosa, idli, vada served with sambhar and coconut chutney. But what if we told you that even non-vegetarians can get their fill of South Indian chicken, mutton or fish dishes?

Named after the Arabian Sea coast region of Kerala, Malabar Groove on the ground floor of Chhaya Centre in the heart of Thamel is serving this South Indian cuisine known for its rich and unique flavours.

malabar groove

The space is cosy and the decor is minimal with vibrant wall art featuring Pacha, a character from the popular dance drama Kathakali. The staff guides you through the menu, explaining the specialities.

At Malabar Groove the menu is all about flavour and textures featuring a selection of South Indian specialities that are both familiar and exciting, like the range of dosa, light and crispy fermented rice and lentil crepe and vada, savoury fried snack made of lentils or sooji as well as a variety of curry including Malabari Prawn Curry, Kottayam Coconut Chicken, Mutton Coconut fry and Kerala Fish Moille.

malabar groove
Chef J Ekambaram

Stewarded by chef J Ekamabaram, who has been working in kitchens all over India since 1997, dining at Malabar Groove is a taste extravaganza and culinary experience. 

Dive into the chicken dosa, crispy and filled with spiced minced meat, it is ideal for dipping into the coconut chutney and tangy tomato pickle that accompanies it. The sambhar here is a good balance of savory and sweet making it a good accompaniment to the main meal. For a lighter appetiser opt for fried idli that comes with the chef’s special podi masala, a combination of lentils, spices and chilli.

malabar groove
Chicken Thali set

Malabar cuisine is influenced by many cultures, the incorporation of which is clearly visible in the range of preparations. Popular amongst guests at Malabar Grove seems to be the Thali set, options include vegetable, chicken, mutton, fish and prawn and diners can choose between rice, chapati and Malabar paratha. The chicken thali comes with chicken cashew curry, rasam, sambhar, beetroots, coconut chutney, achar, papad, salad, dahi and rava halwa. 

The standout in the thali set apart from the creamy chicken is the beetroot, diced and tossed in spices, it eliminates the earthy taste of the vegetable so much so that a guest who ordered a vegetable set confused it for chicken. Wash it all down with a glass of chaas, spiced buttermilk made of yogurt, spices and herbs, to cleanse the palate before the next course

malabar groove
Glimpse of a tiffin box combo and filter coffee.

.For those looking to sample multiple favourites, a tiffin box combo would be the best option with four different combos to choose from. 

No South Indian meal is complete without a cup of strong and creamy filter coffee. What makes the coffee at Malabar Groove unique is that the restaurant imports the beans from South India itself, making it a must-try for coffee enthusiasts looking for something different from the usual cuppa. 

With accessible locations in Thamel and now also at Bagaicha in Naxal, Malabar Groove is a must-visit for anyone looking to be transported from the Himalaya to the Nilgiri.