Tastes of India

Crab rasam is pungent and flavourful.

VARIETY is the spice of life as new experiences help create memories.

This pretty much describes the gastronomic experience one gets when travelling to India’s many different states.

Many of us are accustomed to cuisines of south India or flavours from the north but there are still others that have yet to woo our taste buds.

Although travel restrictions may still be in place during the conditional movement control order, nothing is stopping us from journeying, dish by dish, to savour the different tastes of India at Frangipaani in Republik Damansara.

Erina Pereira Gomez envisioned owning a restaurant to showcase an array of favourites from her homeland.

India, she said, had plenty to offer in its cuisines.

Erina envisioned owning a restaurant to showcase an array of favourites from India. — Photos: FAIHAN GHANI/The StarErina envisioned owning a restaurant to showcase an array of favourites from India. — Photos: FAIHAN GHANI/The Star

“There are many different cuisines, including Goan, Maharashtran, West Bengal, Kashmir and Kerala as well as from the coastal areas.

“I want to offer variety in Indian food, including street food at Frangipaani, so people can experience different flavours, ” she said, adding that the restaurant prided itself on enhancing one’s dining experience.

“I grew up eating lots of Goan food, fish and leafy vegetables. Mumbai, too, is in the coastal area so we were exposed to a variety of tastes.

“When I got married to Leslie (Gomez), who is from the south, I learned to appreciate south Indian cuisine, including Kerala and Anglo-Indian food, ” said Erina.

Her love for the understated but beautiful frangipani, which she grows at home, is the reason behind the restaurant’s name, spelt Frangipaani.

Erina loves the flower as it symbolises eternal and everlasting qualities.

Diners will find popular dishes from Goa, Kashmir, Maharashtra, Kerala and even Tamil Nadu here.

The restaurant’s chefs — Ghanshyam Indersingh Gusain, Faruk Atiyar Taradar and Mayur Ranjan Mhatre — create a medley of spice mixes, using spices from India by dry-roasting them.

The selection of street food satiated my taste buds as its simplicity was satisfying.

Street fare such as pani puri, aloo tikki, chaat, samosa chana chaat, daulat ki chaat, pav bhaji and vada pav are some menu finds.

The pav bhaji is a vegetarian hawker favourite using seven types of vegetables.

“Bhaji means vegetables and we use potato, beetroot, cauliflower, long beans, onions, tomatoes, green peas, ginger and garlic to make the filling for the pav (buns), ” she said.

Vada pav is another street delight not to be missed.

This spiced potato dumpling is coated with gram flour and savoured with mint chutney, garlic and coconut chutney or tamarind and dates chutney.

My favourite among the dishes is the Paya Shorba — a hearty broth with a touch of fresh cream.

Lamb trotters, slow-cooked for hours, enrich the addictive soup with collagen and fall-off-the-bone meat.

It is Faruk’s personal recipe as there are many different Paya Shorba recipes, said Erina.

Another soupy favourite is the spice-filled and appetising crab rasam. The restaurant’s one-pot lamb briyani is presented in an attractive pot covered with pastry to seal in the flavours. It comes with a bit of show, too, when waiters cut the top to reveal long grain rice in this tempting briyani.

The hearty Paya Shorba is slow-cooked for many hours.The hearty Paya Shorba is slow-cooked for many hours.

The mixed grilled platter featuring paneer tikka, stuffed mushrooms and chilgoza malai broccoli is a must for vegetarians. We also sampled the non-vegetarian platter with seekh kebab, chicken tikka, murgh malai tikka and prawn tandoor.

Flavours of Kerala can be relished in the Pomfret Mappas. Grilled in the tandoor, the tasty spice-filled fish is aromatic with curry leaves.

Crab Xec Xec with fresh ground coconut and ground spices is another popular seafood offering.

Then there’s the lovely Lamb Vindaloo which is robust in flavour with vinegar and roasted spices with a medley of dry chilli, cumin, cloves and garam masala.

Of course, an Indian meal is not complete without some paneer so that’s found in a variety of dishes.

Palak paneer, Rogan Gosht, Manglorian Chicken Ghee Roast and Chicken Tikka Masala Pie are other appetising favourites on Frangipaani’s menu.

Erina said a new menu, being rolled out in January, will feature more Goan dishes as well as some from Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka (Bangalore).

For dessert, there are Kesar Phirni (rice slow-cooked in milk with pistachio, saffron, cardamom and sugar), mango kulfi, gulab jamun and artisanal ice cream.

Frangipaani’s range of cocktails, too, have a touch of spice with tipsy finds of Chai Martini, Indian Passion and Kerala Hot Toddy.

FRANGIPAANI, The Republik, Lot No M.03, Mezzanine Floor, Jalan Medan Setia 1, Bukit Damansara, Kuala Lumpur. (Tel: 03-2011 0030). Business hours: 11.30am to 3pm; 6pm to 11pm, daily.

This is the writer’s observation and not an endorsement by StarMetro.

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