Madras Maplai in Chennai focusses on Chettinad flavours


Maplai virundhu at Madras Maplai

Maplai virundhu at Madras Maplai
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

High school buddies, Jerome Fenelon and D Badrinarayan, were always interested in the world of cooking and food. Five years ago, they decided to pursue this passion more seriously. After attempting to understand this industry, they have now launched their fine dining restaurant, Madras Maplai. The strategic location, close to Anna Flyover, makes this restaurant accessible to numerous office-goers. Needless to say, this 4,000 square feet area with a seating capacity of 150 guests, is packed during lunch hour.

The promoters were keen to showcase the several facets of the cuisine of Chettinad and Madurai. This experiment, hence, took the form of three thalis. “We serve, a vegetarian Andhra meal, non-vegetarian Chettinad meal and our highlight, the maplai virundhu,” says Jerome.

Arati Aku kodu vepudu

Arati Aku kodu vepudu
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Meticulously put together, their virundhu (feast) platter, comes with soup, four starters, four types of gravy, biryani, sambar, rasam, kootu, poriyal, plain rice and curd. “While the dry starters (mutton chukka, chicken fry, prawn and fish) are served as limited portions, guests can seek refills of the other items on the platter including biryani,” says Badrinarayan.

We were tempted by the description of the arati aaku kodi (chicken cooked in banana leaf), where tender pieces of marinated chicken chunks are cooked on a slow fire wrapped in banana leaf and stuffed with green chillies. When it arrives, the chicken has an earthy flavour and the essence of the banana leaf and green chillies seep through the slow-cooked meat. We also try their popular achari pineapple. This, however, has a tad too much butter.

Their next dish, feast on a platter, is served piping hot. It comes with a hearty bowl of nenju elumbu soup (mutton ribs soup). Chicken varutha curry (dry roast), mutton chukka (semi dry roast), manga eral thokku (raw mango prawn curry) and karuvadu thokku (dry fish gravy), are highlights of the feast. All the food is mildly spiced and low on salt, which makes the flavours all the more distict. The fennel and pepper dominance in the chicken fry makes it go particularly well with the seeraga samba biryani.

The raw mango prawn curry combines the succulent taste of prawns with the tartness of raw mangoes, all infused with South Indian spices. With a dash of ginger and garlic, this dish is a must-try if you are a seafood lover. They also offer fried fish with three different marinades such as mustard, pepper and red chilli paste.

Chettinad-style boneless mutton chukka and Chicken chukka and Andhra-style prawn gravy with mango

Chettinad-style boneless mutton chukka and Chicken chukka and Andhra-style prawn gravy with mango
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

We end with a generous portion of chilled elaneer payasam. “In the Tamil culture, the feast served when the maplai (son-in-law) visits, is always grand,” says Jerome, adding “We have curated Maplai Virundhu’s menu to ensure that every guest gets to feel as special.”

Madras Maplai is located at Gemini Parsn Manere, Anna Salai, Nungambakkam. Open from 11am to 4pm for lunch, 4pm to 7pm for snacks, and 7pm to 11 pm for dinner. The maplai virundhu platter is available only for lunch. To make reservations, call7305021627

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