Traditionally South. All those who have savoured innumerable South Indian specialities at Dakshin, The Kakatiya, till a few years back will fondly...
All those who have savoured innumerable South Indian specialities at Dakshin, The Kakatiya, till a few years back will fondly remember Chef Chalapathi Rao, the man behind the restaurant, who turned out delectable dishes from different communities across the four Southern States for the connoisseurs of food who was sorely missed when he left the ITC Group. Now all these people have a reason to rejoice and celebrate as Chalapathi (Challu as he is fondly known) has turned entrepreneur having opened his first restaurant called ‘Simply South’. The globally renowned Chef Challu couldn’t have thought of a better name as South Indian food is not just his home turf but his strongpoint too. Located strategically opposite the Film Nagar temple in Jubilee Hills, Simply South was opened without any noise and frills early this month with just a simple puja.
“Launching a restaurant was always a dream. While working in Kakatiya we used to talk of a restaurant,” says Chef Challu, and this dream has materialised pretty soon. Amita Lulla who used to work in Kakatiya joined Chef Challu in his dream to open a restaurant serving the finest of south Indian food perfected over the years and also bringing some of the lesser known and forgotten recipes from traditional homes to the fore. “Many others who worked with me have also joined me now in various capacities,” say the duo.
True to its name, Simply South offers South Indian food. In a city where biryanis, salans, kormas and kebabs besides pappus, veppudus, pachadis and podis are the mainstay of the population and most sought after, food of other States of the South is also slowly gaining ground in Hyderabad. The South in this restaurant is looked as not a homogenous region but one comprising five states serving different and distinct cuisines. For instance, there is Telangana, Andhra and Hyderabadi food besides cuisine from Karnataka, Kerala and Tamilnadu.
The decor of Simply South is simple and traditional right from the entrance and has a beckoning feel about it. The waiting area which has the ‘tinnais’ (platform-like) as seen in old houses is covered by a conventional tiled roof. The main door is solid and unembellished. As one steps in there is a puja corner to the right and a little in front the restaurant opens in front – a 50-seater with tables and chairs neatly arranged. Paintings of dance forms of the regions and historical monuments like Kakatiya ‘gateway’, Golconda Fort
and Charminar as well as simple rangoli patterns adorn the walls. The seating is comfortable.
The menu card, considering it is Chef Challu’s restaurant, has mouth-watering delicacies (veg and non-veg) from all the five states as well as Hyderabadi food. In addition to the ala carte menu there is a vegetarian thali available for lunch only from Monday to Saturday which is priced at Rs 195 plus taxes. The thali menu changes every day and it generally comprising food from all the states –dal, dry vegetable, gravy vegetable, pulusu, mixed rice, chutney, sambhar, rasam, curd, poori, rice, papad, pickles and podis with ghee and a sweet all unlimited! The food is sumptuous and the tastes authentic. The tempering for the thotakoora pappu we had was done with ghee which infused an altogether different yummy taste! Chef Challu has ensured the best quality and even the ghee is good! The non-vegetarians can order their dishes separately too if they take the veg thali! One also tasted the appam and Malabar pacha kari stew which was equally delicious (the appam soft and fluffy with no yeast being used for fermentation!). Chef Challu informs us that he “uses toddy to ferment – the traditional method used!” The Chameen Moilee too was equally lip-smacking with the appam!
The ala carte menu comprises starters (Prarambham) and then dishes from Telangana (pitta mamsam veppudu, natu kodi pulusu, kodi guddu koora, uragai mamsam, bendakkaya veppudu to name a few), Hyderabadi (ambada gosht, khatti dal, bagara baingan, murgh khorma) Andhra Pradesh (royala eguru, peethala eguru, chapa pulusu, chapa vepudu), mullakada mamsam, kothmir kodi, vankaya pulusu pachadi-straight from his mother’s kitchen and tomato pappu), Tamilnadu (kozhi varuval, yeramangai kozhambu, aatu Nilagiri korma, ennai kathrikai and urlai roast), Karnataka (yeti kooka Karwari, kori gassi, kadala gassi, kai korma, meen rawa fry and Kerala (chameen moilee, meen papas, Malabar pacha kari stew, kozhi varathiyathu, kozhi malliperlan). All these dishes can be had with veechu parotta, appam, idiappam, kal dosa, poori or plain rice. The restaurant also serves different kinds of rice like brinji, bisi bele baath, bagala baath, kacchi gosht ki biryani, Jujejan biryani. One sorely missed the kakkarkai veppudu which was Chef Challu’s speciality. “A few people have asked me about the kakkarkai veppudu. We will be introducing new dishes in course of time,” says Chef Challu.
For a change the sweet section has sheer korma (which is really worth a try), ksheerannam (made with jaggery), pooshnikaya halwa, rava kesari and paruppu pradhaman). “I am trying to use as much jaggery as possible,” says chef Challu, who in fact had made parwanam with jaggery which was served in the thali. On the whole, the pricing of the dishes is quite reasonable in this restaurant.
Food of Simply South is served straight from the heart by Chef Challu with the intention that people should eat well. Therefore, it is tasty and healthy (minus the fried things) with the best of ingredients being used. So, the advice is to go on an empty stomach and indulge. Bon Apetit!