Simply South’s version 2 plays on nostalgia of flavours and classics

Simply South, which enjoys near-cult status in Hyderabad for gourmands, gets a makeover, on the eve of its first decade of operations.

BySwati Sucharita

Published Dec 15, 2023 | 2:00 PMUpdatedDec 18, 2023 | 6:01 PM

A 100+ seater, the new Simply South has chef Chalapathi Rao’s culinary perfection, in all its minimal simplicity at its core.

Hyderabad’s iconic restaurant Simply South is finding its new identity in terms of brand appearance (and space) in the buzzing food retail hub of Salarpuria Sattva Knowledge City in High-Tech City. It has now been made accessible to the residents of Banjara and Jubilee Hills, thanks to the Durgam Cheruvu cable bridge.

A 100+ seater, the new Simply South has chef Chalapathi Rao’s culinary perfection, in all its minimal simplicity at its core. Though the menu has several new additions, the classics have been retained. While the ambience is inspired by Chettinadu architecture, there are contemporary elements in the furniture, furnishings and chandeliers while the crockery and cutlery are in keeping with south Indian traditions, brass and steel.

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New look, new menu

The food menu has plenty of new additions representing all the southern states, which I was delighted to savour on a media preview table, prior to the restaurant launch scheduled the next day.

The ambience has been inspired by Chettinadu architecture.

The ambience has been inspired by Chettinadu. (Supplied)

The menu itself is a work of art, a coffee table production with plenty of art work, related to recipes and their origins. We started with a palate-pleasing Nandu Rasam, a classic Chettinadu crab broth using freshly ground ingredients, like pepper and fennel seeds, popular especially in the Karaikudi region.

While some recipe versions have crab claws in the broth, the Simply South version had soft crab bits and pieces, but the broth was redolent with the taste of crab.

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Tamil Nadu delights

Next up was the spicy and delightfully addictive new addition Kari Thokku. This is a Madras special: boneless mutton chunks, sautéed with onion, green chillies, curry leaves and tomato.

Also distinct (as well as new) was Pallipalyam Kozhi, a popular chicken starter from the Kongunad region of Tamil Nadu, chicken chunks marinated in a spice paste and then sautéed in red chillies, shallots and coconut slivers.

But the firecracker debut was of Ulavacharu Kodi, rich chocolate-brown-hued, chicken drumsticks in a thick ulavacharu gravy, with that robust and grainy taste.

It was a no-brainer that it is going to be the highlight of the new menu, for sure!

For vegetarians, the starters served, Masala Vada and Makka Jonna Garelu, were ho-hum.

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A platter of flavours

In the main courses, the Brinji Rice won most palates around the table. Brinji or bayleaf is apparently the sole ingredient which is given credit for the taste of this flavourful pulav, dotted with plenty of veggies like carrots, beans, potatoes, cauliflower and cashews.

The Hyderabadi Khatti Dal, Dondakaya Kothimeera Karam and Potalakaya Perugu Koora (snakegourd in a subtle yoghurt gravy) were all works of perfection, adding substance and flavour to the meal.

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Nostalgic palate

Writer Ratna Rao on sampling the Potalakaya curry got nostalgic.

Badam Halwa

Badam Halwa. (Supplied)

“I remember Potalakaya Perugu Koora used to be a healthy staple in my childhood. My mother made it frequently. Frankly, we would not be very enthused to have it. But it was with a different perspective that I tried the dish again after ages. I was quite happy with the result,” she shared.

Mullakada Mamsam, a rustic mutton-and-drumsticks curry from Andhra Pradesh was greatly appreciated. So was the Eral Kozhambu (prawns cooked in Chettinadu style).

Both, the hot and delectable Badam Halwa redolent with cashews, raisins and saffron, and the creamy Palada Payasam proved to be the ideal sweet endings.

The diners heaved a collective sigh of relief to hear that the popular favourite dessert Elaneer Payasam, (tender coconut kheer) has been retained on the menu.

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Of rewards and real estate

Unfortunately for us, Chef Chalapathi who is away shooting for Masterchef Telugu India is not there at the table. But, I do manage to speak with him on the phone.

On being quizzed about why he does not believe in plating dramatics or entertainment with food on the table he says, “That is me, an eternal classicist. You might call me boring, but I like to present a dish exactly the way it is. I don’t want to go ballistic, saying we are doing progressive or contemporary cuisine. My objective is to reach the palate of our dear patrons, like you mentioned about Ratna Rao. That is my greatest reward. When my food resonates with your memories, with the meals you have had in your family, I would like to reach perfection in the simple things which matter.”

How is Hyderabad’s culinary landscape appearing to him, I venture to ask.

“The F&B industry is booming in Hyderabad. It is focused, especially in this post-Covid era. It is the best time for any foodpreneur to be in Hyderabad. Because, spending power was never in question in the city. Infrastructure like roads, and real estate are excellent in High-Tech city areas such as Knowledge City. The food industry is poised on a northward curve,” signs off the chef.

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