GEORGE TOWN: Like a scene straight out of MasterChef, Shankar Santhiram rallies his kitchen brigade to serve a packed home, as he folds an exceptionally crisp tosai crammed with ghee from a scorching skillet to a ready plate.
Shankar, a lawyer turned chef, was unapologetic concerning the lashings of pure desi ghee he used, saying it’s the correct wanted to make veetu tosai.
“The tosai we get outdoors is so skinny you would need to fold it a couple of occasions, and drench it in curry to get some heft. This isn’t proper,” he stated.
At 52, Shankar is celebrating the sixth week of his “Hearth by Shankar” restaurant in Penang, and it seems that repeat prospects have claimed each obtainable seat, together with newbies.
The indoor eating part is heat and alluring, with images of the Chennai streetscape shot by famend photographer SC Shekar. The images are hung there given that a number of the restaurant’s income return to serving to the Orang Asli.
For individuals who go for outside seating, a view of the marina and mild sea breeze await. An Indian fine-dining institution specialising in Tamil delicacies is a uncommon gem in Penang and a departure from the strange.
Shankar stated that whereas there’s loads of Tamil meals within the state, the authenticity is commonly suspect. Daring flavours and spicy warmth are toned all the way down to cater to perceived preferences. And he’s on a mission to redefine this notion.
Shankar is a purist with regards to elements. Beneficiant parts of meat are assured — each single meat dish weighs not less than 200g, with cuts coming from so far as Argentina and New Zealand. For each plate of hen or mutton varuval, he proudly stated there’s solely meat and no bones.
The culinary journey at Hearth is a dynamic one, with the menu refreshed each few weeks. This not solely retains the choices thrilling for friends but additionally fuels the power of the kitchen workforce, he stated.
Describing the essence of Indian tradition, Shankar stated: “Indians are the Italians for Asia – Indians begin speaking to one another from afar, they’re tempestuous, loud, put on our hearts on our sleeves.”
That spirit interprets into the eating expertise right here, the place patrons are invited to embrace the flavours with gusto. He additionally assures that the meals is just not too “chilli sizzling” and friends are guided by way of distinctive methods to chill their palates when needed, resembling mixing the meals with contemporary yoghurt.
Throughout FMT Way of life’s style take a look at, the meals certainly captured the essence of Tamil Indian delicacies, nailing the pure fundamentals from a thick ghee veetu tosai to the spinach and dhall curry, which was an important combo.
The masala lamb chops, cooked medium uncommon, had been divine, whereas the bendi in bitter cream, introduced a nice tanginess.
Additionally price noting is that the rice served is of the ponni selection, named Kaveri financial institution rice on the menu in recognition of the place it’s grown in India. It doesn’t clump as it’s laced with a tinge of coconut oil.
The usual bearer hen and mutton varuval would put different outlets to disgrace, whereas their rendition of the curry leaf prawns wil depart you wanting extra.
To enrich the flavours, bask in a cup of the best Madras espresso, a decoction blended with candy chicory.
Their cocktails, together with the refreshing Madras margarita and Sikkim mai tais, had been additionally top-notch. Don’t miss the virgin Bombay Jal Jeera for a singular style expertise.
The pandan panna cotta might be one of many best such examples in Penang, as is their model of carrot halwa.
Shankar additionally prepares a Sunday Particular, the place patrons pay RM59 to eat all they will. It’s an omakase or “chef’s model” consuming, the place 5 meals objects are served, of which two are proteins.
Hearth by Shankar
Floor flooring, Straits Quay
Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang
12pm-3pm; 5.30pm-11pm (closed on Mondays)
Reservations: 010-200-0470 or click on here.