Discovering South Indian at Chettinad in Leicester
For Mama’s birthday, we headed up London Road (just one of Leicester’s many food streets) before stopping outside Chettinad Restaurant – a South Indian eatery named after a small town in the Tamil Nadu state of India.
The bronze, brown and rusty gold colour scheme gave a feel of royalty that felt good. As well as having traditional elements, it was modern with a “no fuss, no frill, stylish, laid back diner”.
While the walls were decorated with small bells (our fave), a beautifully decorated dhol (a double-headed drum) and a few photos of Chettinad town, the back wall displayed traditional South Indian baskets used for carrying items on one’s head.
Although it looks quite small from the outside, the restaurant has a capacity of upto 70 and is very spacious.
It was also very clean and tidy all round, with fancy glasses and cutlery. Even the toilets were super clean (I had a sneaky look inside the glossy white cabinet and found the cleaning items inside to be well organised).
Despite alcohol being served in the mini bar, the manager confirmed the place to be Halal.
For drinks, I went for a sweet lassi and Mama went for a Ginger ale. Lassi was whipped up right in front me, and was nice and thick, just the way I like it.
PRE MEAL SNACK
These all tasted so fresh like they had just been made them in the morning.
The Banana Chips and Murukku had a good crunch, with the Masala Pappadams being crisp. My favourite were the Banana Chips – salty and well balanced, with a hint of spices used for seasoning.
The Murukku while soft, managed to retain a good crunch.
It was unbelievably sour, but irresistible, and definitely one of the highlights of the day.
The pre-starter also came with a sweet mango chutney and a yogurt-based mint sauce.
And what we found, quite by chance, was that a mixture of the mango chutney and lemon pickle tasted amazing as a combo.
We decided that a combination of South Indian traditional foods would be a good option particularly the platter consisting of Two Vegetable Samosas, Two Mini Masala Dosas, Chilli Paneer and Two Ulundu Vadais, served with Salad and Sambar.
And Chettinad brought out some really good, delicious ones.
I always thought Dosas to be firm, bland pancake-like things, but I was wrong. These were crisp on the outside and ever so tasty.
Chettinad have brought Dosas to my top 5 food list!
The pastry wasn’t too thick or floury and was slightly spiced with cumin, which tasted great.
The filling, however, was oh so spicy, with a mixture of roughly mashed spiced potatoes, chillies, peas, cumin, turmeric and other various spices.
Upon reflection, I’d probably ask them to reduce the spice levels the next time I visit.
Also on the platter was another spicy one in the form of Chilli Paneer, that was so saucy and flavoursome.
Chilli paneer tends to be slightly greasy, but this one wasn’t, making it taste even better. Consisting of spring onions, and green and red peppers, it was garnished with coriander, and was luuuuvleyy!
I ate this with the yogurt sauce we got earlier with the pre-starters to help cool things down.
The sauciness made this stand out from the rest of the chilli paneers we’ve had before. And though a little spicy for me, this was definitely the best one.
At first bite, I quite liked it. It was crispy on the outside and soft and doughy on the inside. But after a few more nibbles, it came across a bit bland and a little too doughy.
It tasted better with the accompanying chutneys though.
Although served with a standard finely sliced/grated salad, which added freshness to the meal, this was not my kinda ‘vada’!
The Ulundu Vadai also came with the very popular South Indian dish, Sambar – a lentil-based vegetable stew or chowder based on a broth and made with tamarind.
I loved it! Perfect to sip on, it was tangy with a hint of sweetness, and went perfectly with the Vadai.
We also got a set of four chutneys, two of which were coconut based, another being green chilli and coriander, and the fourth sweet and spicy tamarind sauce.
The coconut chutneys were so fresh and perfect that I could have eaten them as they were. The brown coconut chutney was the better of the two. It was well spiced and had a hint of chilli to it. Both were garnished with toasted ‘dhana dhal’ (split roasted coriander seeds) and mustard seeds.
The green chilli and coriander reminded us of something similar we’d had before, only spicier. Very tasty!
Mama was tempted by one of the kind members of staff to try the Jaggery Dosa.
Never had we heard of a Dosa as a sweet dish. But I was so glad we did try it because it was delicious.
Crispy and sweet and coconuty, with crystallised jaggery, this version was crispier on the outside than its savoury counterpart, and with the freshly desiccated coconut, yum!
It was served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, which was a nice contrast to the warm Dosa itself.
We ended our visit with some mouth-fresheners from a fancy little box.
All the food was brought out presentably and was visually appealing. The platter didn’t look too congested, but presented neat and tidy.
My favourite on the plate was the Dosa. I loved it so much that I can’t wait to go back for it!
Service was great too. We were welcomed with a smile and seated as soon as we stepped in. We were served quite quickly too, with the dessert being brought out swiftly despite the last minute order.
The staff asked if everything was okay and were very attentive. Polite and jovial, we also enjoyed a bit of banter with one of them.
I can’t wait to go back again! Makes me wish I had tried South Indian food earlier.
146c London Road,
Leicester, Le2 1ED.
Opening Hours: Mon-Thu 12:00-15:00 & 17:30-23:00 | Fri-Sat 12:00-23:00 | Sun 12:00-22:00