Dindigul Thalappakatti Restaurant.

When Nagasamy Naidu established Anandha Vilas Biriyani Hotel in 1957 at the town of Dindigul, he wouldn't have expected that the turban on his head would be subjected to an itigation at the Madras High Court. As a huge fan and a believer of Chinnaswami Subramania Bharati, the famous Tamil poet and freedom fighter, Naidu used to wear a turban (thalappakatti in Tamil), which led his customers to refer his restaurant as Thalappakatti’s Hotel. This name stuck with the crowd – therefore, after his demise in 1978, it was renamed to Thalappakatti Anandha Vilas Biriyani Hotel. 
 
Everything went down smoothly until Chennai Thalappakattu Biryani Corner & Fast Food restaurant was launched in 2006. It caused the Thalappakatti Restaurant to file a trademark lawsuit against this restaurant, for using the word 'Thalappakattu' in their name. The case went on for a few years, and at last, the victory was given to the original Thalappakatti Biriyani Restaurant, while simultaneously rejecting the appeal by the Chennai Thalappakattu Biryani Corner & Fast Food Restaurant. 
 
Getting back to the present – this venture by Naidu is now referred to as Dindigul Thalappakatti Restaurant. They've got around 30 branches in Chennai alone, more than a dozen others elsewhere in India, France, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, United States and of course, in Sri Lanka. 

Food & Drinks

Dindigul is a city in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, with a unique cooking style – so what you get here probably won't resemble your usual Indian food. They present a distinct set of flavors that tickles your taste buds in a different way. It's said that most of the recipes they follow here are created by Naidu's beloved wife. 

We started our investigation with a portion of Paneer 65 (Rs. 450). They offer their food on aluminium plates/pots, and you can enjoy them on massive trays of the same kind, that are topped with banana leaves. 

So this one was a large helping of paneer cubes, coated with an extremely thin batter, and deep-fried to perfection, while the inside was deliciously soft. The batter wasn't exactly red colored as one would expect from a 65 batter, but it was crispy as hell, making for a succulent treat. Make sure that you make good use of the handful of grated onions on top to enhance the overall flavor.

This portion is enough for two people – so unless you want to fill up on this, and not the mains, I suggest you share it with a friend. 

The Thalappakatti Special Mutton Biriyani (Rs. 790) was served with the sides of onion raita and gravy. Veering off from the usual basmati, this Dindigul biriyani is made with seeraga samba which is known to be low on calories, and grown on the lands nourished by the Kodaikanal waters. Each and every grain of this biriyani was properly marinated in a homemade masala, while its flavors were boosted by the massive cubes of well-spiced mutton, and the heap of cloves and cardamom added to it. From what we gathered, lemon and curd play a huge role in pulling off these flavors, and so does pepper, giving that full-on zesty smack on your palate. 

The mutton itself was chewy, beautifully cooked through in every layer, and had absorbed all the spices and flavors of the ingredients added to the biriyani. 
Carrying a potent punch from a luscious blend of spices, the Kadai Chicken (Rs. 700) was paired nicely with the Garlic Naan (Rs. 200) and Tandoori Parotta (Rs. 200) we ordered. The gravy was creamy and enriched with pieces of onion, tomato and dried chilis, and had around five sizeable chicken pieces to go around. 

*Pictured above – Garlic Naan (left), Tandoori Parotta (right)

Both of the rotis were quite good, and the garlic naan was our favorite. Generously embedded with sesame and bits of garlic, it was intensely buttery and had a good crisp to bite. 

I don't know whether it's a thing that you come across in Indian food franchises, but the Special Faluda (Rs. 300) was more of an assortment of desserts, than a drink. It reminded us of the faluda we tried at Aasife Biriyani, which is another Indian restaurant that put down roots in Sri Lanka a couple of years ago

Creamy and refreshing, this glass of faluda had around three scoops of ice cream, in three different flavors – fruit & nut, vanilla and strawberry, along with some fruit salad in the middle, as well as cubes of jelly as you go to the bottom of it. Trust me, it's delicious, but quite heavy, especially after you indulge in a heavy meal like ours. 

The Jigarthanda (Rs. 350) is a glass full of pure happiness. This popular summer staple of Tamil Nadu is a combination of milk, almond gum, sarsaparilla root syrup, sugar and ice-cream, which makes for an ultimate drink to beat the blistering Lankan heat. It's sweet, but not an annoying way, and not heavy in comparison to the faluda. 

Ambience & Service

This photo was taken around 3pm, when we were about to leave the place. Seems like there's plenty of space, yes?

Well, I guess you should've seen the place a couple of hours before this. It was practically swarmed with customers, for both dine-in and takeaway orders. This is an establishment of two floors, enough to accommodate around 50 – 70 people at a time, and still, it was crowded, and loud. So much so, sometimes you don't even hear the beautiful hindi and tamil music they play on the background. 

The staff is from India, and they were quite efficient and friendly. They might not be fluent in English or Sinhala, but they're happy to assist you in any way that they can. 

Conclusion

It's been barely a month since the opening of Dindigul Thalappakatti Restaurant in Sri Lanka, but as we could see, it's already crowd's favorite. We sincerely hope that they'd be consistent on their spread, and keep up with the hype, because they're looking at a prominent customer base. 

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