Dakshin is one of the fine dining restaurants in ITC Windsor serving authentic South Indian Cuisine. Dakshin started its journey in the year 1989 and since then it has always been the benchmark for South Indian Cuisine in the city. And as they say “legends are not made in a day” Dakshin also is the result of years of research and trials across the four southern states of India, by the team of trained chefs and culinary experts. After living in Southern India for past four years I still could not think beyond idli – dosa, my inquisitiveness to know more about the cuisine was strong enough to accept the invite to taste the new menu at Dakshin.
Dakshin ambiance reminded me of many Chettinad style temples I visited during my stay in Chennai, whether it was beautiful sculpture at the entrance, grand doorway carved with bells and knuckles, traditional brass lamp (Velaku) and the Urli (vessel) with flower petals floating in water (the presence of a water body in temples is a must in south India), it all altogether transported me to palace of some southern kingdom. The tables at Dakshin are blending of traditional culture and modernity where silver thalis are accompanied by wine glasses.
Evening unfolded with the interesting conversation with two generation of chefs at Dakshin Grand Master Chef CB. Shankaran, who has experience of over 30 years in culinary world and expertise’s in traditional South Indian classics, owner of humble personality Chef Shankaran has many absorbing stories to share from the by-gone years about how he has seen city going through the change in terms of food on the other hand Executive Chef Uchit Vohra, with over 14 years of experience with ITC was full of energy and enthusiasm. With two legendary chefs sitting on our table I was nearly tight lipped, few sip of Muneer (a refreshing drink of jaggery, tender coconut water, khus syrup and honey) and live Carnatic music in the background made me relaxed.
Dakshin menu is the blend of the cuisine of four states Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, talking about the new menu, which is a medley of Dakshin favorite dishes over the years with some new additions to the menu or I should say the new menu exhibits ‘Celebrated Tastes of Southern India’. The selection of dishes in the menu is inspired by home-style South Indian food. Dakshin menu is bifurcated into sections like Sarvottam and then there are state wise segments. Sarvottam in Hindi means “the best of all”, this section of the menu comprises of selected Dakshin signature classics which are in the menu from past many years, passed on from one generation of Chefs to another and could only be changed after consulting and approval of all the Grandmaster Chefs of Dakshin from across the India.
One of the many USP’s of Dakshin includes the Iyer’s Trolley, a live trolley named after Chef Paramasivam Iyer – the first Grand Master Chef, which serves small adais, banana flavored dosais and the ubiquitous kunni paniyarams to welcome the guest. We were welcomed by an array of colorful assorted chutneys and papadum followed by banana-flavored dosais, mini adais and corn vada (the new addition to the menu). Then came an array of Dakshin delights for the Prarambham (starters) – Dakshin Yera (Masala coated fried prawns), Kozhi Roast (Slow roast spring chicken marinated with Chef’s special masala), Mutton Sukka (Dry preparation of tender lamb morsels cooked with black pepper, cumin and fresh coriander leaves), Chettinad Kozhi (Drum Sticks of chicken cooked in a thick masala of green chilli, fresh coriander and a blend of south), Meen Varuval(Seer fish darns marinated with juice of green chillies and black pepper powder and grilled on a hot plate), for the first time I was in dilemma to decide my favorite, whether it was mutton, chicken drumstick or fish each was cooked till perfection, full of bursting flavors, mouth melting and best part each has distinctive taste profile.
At ITC Windsor hospitality is taken very seriously, the moment you enter the hotel, the staff leaves no stone unturned to make your moment special. still remember the heartwarming smile of Nandesh, our server for the night a thorough gentleman who was wearing traditional attire called ‘panchegajam veshti’. He reminded me of my family cook whom we use to call Maharaj and who use to over stuff us with food. Despite his busy schedule Chef Shankaran was always around explaining about each dish that comes out of the kitchen.
For the main course we had variety of curries mainly vegetarian, from Karnataka we had Kootu Saaru (Curry of mix vegetables cooked in gravy of coconut, lentils and tempered with garlic), Baine Barthadh (Sweet and sour preparation of aubergine tossed with onions), Massopu Saaru (Garlic flavoured curry of mix greens and lentils), from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana we had Dappalam (A sweet, sour, and spicy preparation of a yam, broad beans, drumsticks and red pumpkin), Kalasu Koora (Mix vegetable curry of green capsicum, string beans, black eyed beans and shallots) and Mamsam Koora(Succulent lamb cubes cooked in a gravy of coconut, onions and tomatoes) all mopped up with Appam, Malabar Paratha and Ragi Dosa, the dishes are served from traditional vessels like the ‘Urli’ and the ‘Adduku. The vegetarian spread of curries was absolutely delightful and my favorite was Baine Barthadh (Sweet and sour preparation of aubergine tossed with onions), which is one of the delicious aubergine preparations I have tasted.
After eating so much we were in the stage called – food coma and thought will skip the dessert section and honestly was not expecting something special in dessert but then came Madhuram (dessert) – Elaneer Payasam (Tender coconut kernels in cardamom flavoured coconut milk) served chilled and Aadikkumayam (South Indian halwa made of ground urad dal, moong dal and rice) very much similar to Moon Dal Halwa, without complaining about the large portion of desserts we quietly cleaned up even the last bit of dessert particles from our bowls, perfect end to a fabulous meal.
One of the memorable evenings I experienced which will always stay in my food memories for many coming years and yes it has definitely made it to the list of my highly recommended places to visit in Bangalore.
Disclaimer: The review was done on an invitation from Dakshin – ITC Windsor, my opinion and words are unbiased and totally based on my experience at the restaurant. But as they say, “Food is Subjective” so kindly exercise your own discretion, with the understanding that this is writer’s personal opinion.