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The Spice Route

It's perhaps one of the few restaurants in the city that lets you temper your dish according to your palate.

Written by Jagmeeta Thind Joy | Published: January 15, 2012 12:18:38 am

The Portuguese arrivals at Nandos are reminiscent of flavours closer home

It’s perhaps one of the few restaurants in the city that lets you temper your dish according to your palate. Nandos,a restaurant group best known for its flame-grilled Peri-Peri chicken and South African menu,encourages one to “choose the heat before you eat” or in other words,take a pick from a Perio-meter that lists the spice-intensity of the flavours in the chicken dressing. Following the spice route,the restaurant has introduced a new Portuguese meal — Cataplana Algarve — that we decided to sample.

We arrived for an early lunch and found the restaurant yet to pack in a crowd. The interiors — with earthy colours and vibrant art on the wall,coupled with African artefacts — is appealing and we are told that the brand promotes new artists and all the artwork on the walls is for sale. Finding a cosy corner,we settled for chicken wings (Rs 150) in “fiery hot” for starters and a portion of Cataplana (Rs 350) that comes with a complimentary drink called Rosa Fresca. The chicken wings were spicy,as ordered,and a portion is good for two. The Cataplana,as the menu reads,is traditionally the name for non-vegetarian Portuguese cuisine as well as the utensil in which it is served. In Portuguese households,the dish is like a centrepiece on the dining table on special occasions. Ours arrived in a broad domed copper dish closed like a clamp. It’s quite a novelty opening the Cataplana for the first time. Lift the lid and there’s a potpourri of a meal inside — flame-grilled Peri-Peri chicken thighs tossed in spicy rice along with grilled peppers,chickpeas and parsley. At first glance,it looks similar to biryani and the flavours seem reminiscent of an Indian dish. Given the fact that the Nandos menu sticks to its theme of Afro-Portuguese meals and there are no curries to choose from,the Cataplana suffices well. The rice is not dry and the chickpeas and peppers make it a complete meal. The Cataplana was also good for two moderately hungry adults. The drink,Rosa Fresca,is a not-so-overtly sweet concoction of mint mojito and pomegranate syrup. If you’ve chosen a “hot” Peri-Peri,then the drink works well to cool down the taste buds on fire. If you want to try other flavours like Lemon-Herb,the restaurant has generously put bottles of Peri-Peri sauces on each table.

While we would recommend the Cataplana for its complete-meal-in-a-pot appeal,there’s also Butterfly-cut chicken,burgers,wraps and salads to choose from. The menu at Nandos also accommodates vegetarians,with a Peri-Peri Paneer version apart from ample choice in the salads section.

We summed up our meal with a portion of light chocolate cake that was true to its name,almost like a soufflé set with a crust. All in all,Peri-Peri offers a satisfying experience.

Meal for two: Rs 700 (including taxes)

Location: SCO 339-340,Sector 35-B,Chandigarh Contact: 0172-4052501

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