Kari Apla review: A warm medley of Kerala and Maharashtrian cuisines

Kari Apla is a warm and cosy space that offers elaborate flavours by bringing together the best of Kerala and Maharashtra in its well-curated menu, which seems to have been put together after much thought. Novelty is the main point at this young restaurant that offers clever seating in its limited space – there are high stools as well as a few tables laid out in the dining area, divided by a glass door that gives a good view of the humdrum of live kitchen inside, as a couple of chefs go about doing their job of fixing sumptuous food in record time. 

This restaurant tries to expand our notions of what a blend of Maharashtrian and Kerala cuisines might contain, as it dives straight into traditional foods, starting with favourites like steamed ambemohar rice, chilli parotta, Karwari Prawn curry and moilee with vattayappam – which means a prawn curry made from coconut milk and soft and spongy cake-like bread made with rice and coconut based batter that is first fermented and then steamed. 

The menu is short, crisp and straightforward; here adjectives and nouns do not spin in a crazy vortex. The menu here provides a totally perfect and reliable description of what actually will come to the table. Both, the Mangalorean kori sukka and the coconut bhakris that accompanied it, stood true to expectations – there was the hint of coconut in the bhakris, which are otherwise made to suit a bland palette and the kori sukka was in fact, a ghee roast, as I had requested. However, the Madurai mutton cutlets, which were served with the pachadi sauce and onion salad which was nothing but plain onion rings, was a disappointment. 

I was struck by how very far from awesome the dish was. We thought the Mutton cutlets, which are considered a popular snack made using minced lamb, mashed potatoes, spices and herbs would be a perfect start to the four- course meal we had planned to indulge in, but it failed to set the momentum. While the taste was okay, the texture of the cutlet did not feel right – it was flaky, although not crumbly, and was served with a sweet sauce instead of a nice green chutney that would elevate the taste further. Especially because the cutlets weren’t chilly either. Thankfully the meat was tender and flavourful and did not taste like chewy air. The iced latte, the only drink that accompanied our food, was perfectly chilled; it fired our appetite further. Our coconut pudding was just a little over the size of a standard scoop, could have been more? Yes, please. 

But why such small portions in every meal, we want to ask founding couple and young chefs Mathew Varghese and Ebaani Tewari, who started the venture in October last year. The vattayappam that came with the moilee were just two in number and were so melt-in-your-mouth soft that they got over in seconds without filling us up at all.

I think for that dish to be filling enough for someone with a modest appetite like mine, we’d have to order at least ten to 12 of them to go with that one bowl of curry. Same with the rice and coconut-based bhakris that accompanied our chicken – they were extremely thin, lovingly soft and surprisingly insufficient. With the couple offering us such flavourful food, we wish they would increase the portion size for us to be happily content and smiling. Do visit this fantastic place, which has a warmth that makes it an oasis against the already bustling and noisy stretch of Mumbai’s Khar-Pali road.