Are you the kind of diner who enjoys dishes that dole out the heat? Not from a blistering fury of chile peppers, but from a complex harmony of Indian spices that punish and delight in equal measure?
Then the cuisine of Chettinad, a dry, remote region of the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India, is probably for you. Its abundantly spiced food (even to the southern Indian palate) started centuries ago with the Chettiars, a caste of affluent, traveling traders who were as well known for their unique spice blends as for their mansions of Burmese wood and Italian marble.
Chettinad cuisine is difficult to find in the Valley, which makes the arrival of the roughly one-year-old Chennai Chettinaad Palace in North Phoenix reason enough to celebrate.
Here's an excerpt from this week's review:
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"There is a Chettinad pepper lamb that will make your nose hairs curl, even if you do manage to avoid the accidental consumption of one of the chiles tucked into the arrangement of highly peppered meat. The heat of the chicken Chettinad takes a different route. Put together with tomatoes, onions, and garlic, its spiciness starts out slower, blending with a sweet and smoky flavor before building to a flaming crescendo that sticks around for the rest of the meal. And if you like anchovies, there is the nethyli fish. Fried up with seasonings like red chili powder, turmeric, and coriander, the crunchy little swimmers are supremely salty and spicy, their flavor enhanced with a squirt or two of lemon."
Hungry for more? Read the full review of Chennai Chettinaad Palace in Phoenix.
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