Sandwiched between two giants in South Indian cuisine that is Muthu Curry and Gayatri Restaurant is Spice Junction with a distinct culinary identity of its own. That is why Spice Junction is going to celebrate its 10th Anniversary on December 5th. Though South Indian too the cuisine is typically from Kerala.
Kerala cuisine is different. The cuisine of Kerala, a state in the south west of India, is linked to its history, geography, demography and culture. Kerala cuisine offers a multitude of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes prepared using fish, poultry and red meat with rice a typical accompaniment. Chillies, curry leaves, mustard seeds, tamarind and asafoetida are all frequently used.
Kerala is known as the "Land of Spices" because it traded spices with Europe. Food is traditionally served on a banana leaf and almost every dish has coconut and spices added for flavour.
Coconuts grow in abundance in Kerala, and consequently, coconut kernel, (sliced or grated) coconut cream and coconut milk are widely used in dishes for thickening and flavouring. Kerala's long coastline, numerous rivers and backwater networks, and strong fishing industry have contributed to many sea and river food based dishes. Rice and cassava (Tapioca) form the staple food of Kerala. All main dishes are made with them and served along with Kootan; the side dishes which may be made from vegetables, meat, fish or a mix of all of them. The main dish for lunch and dinner is boiled rice. The Kerala breakfast shows a rich variety; the main dishes for which are made from rice flour, or fresh or dried cassava. Owing to the weather and the availability of spices, the Kerala cuisine is richly spicy especially the hot ones –chilli, black pepper, cardamom, cloves, ginger, and cinnamon
Spice Junction has a cosy setting with black wooden chairs and black cushions .You are welcomed by typical Kerala painting that can be quite nostalgic for the Malayalee in Singapore. Coconut trees and padi fields and Kathakali painting which is the dance of old folklore gives a visual impact that this restaurant is typically Kerala in all aspects of the word from décor to dinning table. There is a bar at the far end that serves wine and spirits. The décor is simple with not too much frills and decorations but it is comfortable enough to tuck in a sumptuous satisfying meal from the Malabar coast. Inside seats 50 people and outside seats 20 people.
“Meen Pollichathu” is a much sought after Kerala delicacy. Malayalees love for fish is well known. This is not only a speciality in Kerala foods it is a delicacy. The catch of the day is grilled on a gridle for 5 to 8 minutes and wrapped in fragrant banana leaf with spices that is sweetish, tangy and a little spicy. I was under the impression that it’s a very tedious and time consuming process to make it. Trust me, it’s very easy and simple to put together. This dish is very flavourful. When you unwrap the banana leaf you can smell the mixture of exotic spices that will whet your appetite. And, then you tuck into the fish moist and succulent with all the juices from the masala which is a reddish concoction made up of onion, tomato and lime which is best eaten with white steamed rice. It was the tomato that gave the sour taste when I thought it was tamarind. There is no tamarind in this dish it is tomato based and spiced with red chillies. Very delicious indeed and something different and exotic brought to Singapore by Spice Junction from the Malabar Coast. It seems that cooking in banana leaf has also medicinal value. If you want an experience of authentic Meen Pollichathu Spice Junction has this excellent dish to offer and there are other great choices from their menu of typical Kerala cuisine. After the meal you know it is something to come home and talk about and you may have a craving to go back for more because it leaves a lasting effect on the palate