One of my friends, Abe, who was born in India kept talking about a South Indian restaurant in Curry Hill called Kokum, taking its name from a plant whose fruit can be used in the kitchen. Little did I know that it was one of the ventures of Michelin Star Chef Hemant Mathur who already satisfies hungry crowds in places like Haldi or Dosai; Chef that I met a couple of times and, again this time at Kokum. So I was really excited to see what this place was about.
Interestingly, the restaurant is close to Haldi and next to Dosai, the places I mentioned earlier, but with a different decor, different feel and completely different menu, serving veg and non-veg dishes. The restaurant is long and decorated with paintings of boats, that refer to the Aranmula Boat Race, also known as Kerala Boat Festival. Very colorful indeed.
Food wise, we were in for a treat: the extensive menu has dishes that are fairly known such as chicken tikka masala or dal, but also lots of them totally unknown to me that my friend referred as "similar to what my mom cooks and typical of Kerala cuisine", the first statement being quite a big one! We started off with papadum that I am always looking forward to, that I accompany with a mango lassi.
We then shared some dishes that my friend Abe suggested. There was:
Kerala parotta, a multi layer bread grilled on a pan:
Savitri Amma's Idli that are steamed rice cakes (idli) with a lentil based soup (sambhar) and chutneys (some of them spicy):
Kumily chicken fried that is spiced chicken tossed with curry leaves and fried, one of my favorites of the evening.
Kochi goat curry (curried goat on the bone with curry leaves):
Fish moilee (fish cooked in a numeric infused coconut milk sauce):
Kundapur chicken (chicken and potatoes cooked in coconut cream with curry leaves):
Last was dessert. My all time favorite: gulab jamun that are deep fried milk balls.
And rasmalai, that are soft cheese patties dipped in a milk reduction.
I loved the food at Kokum: not the classic dishes I am used to like chicken tikka masala or chana masala. This place has a very original menu for non-Indian patrons and I definitely recommend it. For sure, when knowing that Chef Mathur was involved in this restaurant, I was sure I would not be disappointed. And I was not for sure, looking forward for my next visit there.
Enjoy (I did)!
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