A few days back a few of the discerning food bloggers were invited to review the newly introduced menu of a vegetarian restaurant named Gama Gamma located in Valasarvakkam in Chennai. Being a vegetarian, I was quite curious to visit the place and see if the restaurant had anything new in store for us and if it had, what were it’s specialities..
It was a relatively sunny day on that Saturday afternoon when we visited Gamma Gamma and the day had turned out more special as DH decided to accompany me as the area was unknown to us. Though the place was not very far from our place, I used google maps to locate it and realised that it was quite close to the Shivan Koil Tank on Arcot Road. Locating the place wasn’t difficult but parking the car became a difficulty. I realised it’s easier for the two wheelers to park in front of the restaurant rather than the four wheelers as it’s right on the main road. The guard guided us to park the car at some distance.
I was the first blogger to enter the restaurant and the bright interiors of a mix of yellow, green and orange colours, kind of welcomed me and brought a smile on my face. I introduced myself and was told that the person behind the operations/menu of the kitchen, Mr. Elangovan would join us a little later. I was asked to be seated meanwhile a waiter also enquired if I would like to order something from the menu. I briskly moved through the menu, which was bright and colourful with attractive photographs, and checked if it had something interesting to quench my thirst and reduce the heat. I decided on a cucumber flavoured butter milk which was served quickly. It was a perfect quencher for the heat and had a nice cucumber flavour but for my palate it was a bit salty. I realized that the place has a seating capacity of about 60-63 people with sturdy tables and chairs. I also noticed that the pillars and walls had some interesting facts and stories written on it. A story that particularly caught my attention was how the name ‘sambhar’ evolved..
Gradually the other foodies/ bloggers joined in too and Mr Krishnan who handles ‘operations’ for the restaurant also joined us. A section of the restaurant was facing electricity problem and Mr Krishnan had come to get that sorted. As a result of which there were more takeaways that day..
Mr Krishnan explained that the restaurant opened in June’12, is owned by Gauri Subramanian who is an IT professional. The restaurant initially served only South Indian food and combo meals. They had started off with a concept of quick bite or quick food which mainly catered to office and college goers. Realizing soon that the demand was for a place where the food is not only economical but also where friends, family could sit, hang out and have relaxed meal, led them to revamp the menu. Following the concept of McDonalds and KFC they have also installed cash counters for quick service. The restaurant has many visitors coming in from the film fraternity.
Explaining the philosophy of the food served in the restaurant, Mr Krishnan elaborated that Gama Gamma means a wonderful aroma especially coming from the food. He further explained that apart from the Thali meals which included regular and grand meals (served during 12PM-3PM) that were served in the restaurant, there’s also a pick of soup, starter and salad special for the day, which is the speciality of the place. For example, that day being a Saturday, the starter of the day was Paneer & Makoy Patties, the soup was Manathakali Keerai Soup and the salad was corn & macaroni salad in cream sauce.
Later on Mr Elangovan (who is the man behind the creation of the new menu and the recipes behind various dishes) joined us and gave his inputs. He said that a lot of emphasis was given on the nutritional value & calories aspect in the new menu, as people now a days have become extremely health conscious. Keeping that in mind the patties are shallow fried and the soups are made from ingredients rich in nutrition like horse gram, plantain pith, drumstick, red lentils and foxtail millet. The thought of having healthy soup n salad caught my attention definitely. I would definitely like to go and try out the variety of healthy soups offered by Gamma Gamma.
We were first served the tomato shorba and manathakali keerai soup and it took quite some time for them to arrive. I avoided having the tomato shorba as it hardly looked like a shorba and was more of a coloured soup. I always try to avoid food with artificial colouring. I tasted the manathakali soup and liked it. There were no overpowering spices and had a perfect balance of taste and flavour. The only thing I disliked was the greasy texture on top of the soup which was because of the addition of the ghee and it left an after taste. If the soup was piping hot and less ghee was added, that greasy feeling wouldn’t be there..
The soups were followed by the starters. We decided to try a variety of starters from the various sections of the menu to get a fair idea of the range and quality of food catered. We ordered the Paneer Makoy Patties which was the starter of the day. From Indian starters we had an option of ordering potato spiced using one of the Indian flavourings, from the five options- ginger, pepper, methi, chilli and jeera. Unanimously we decided on the Aloo Methi. From the category of Charcoal Oven starters was ordered A tandoori platter and from the Chinese starters, spring rolls was tried.
First came the pan roasted, soft and succulent paneer & makoy patties accompanied by a hot dip of garlic, tomato and chillies. This starter was loved by all and I would recommend to try it. There was no potato added to the patties and paneer and bread crumbs provided the binding.
After the patties came the Tandoori platter and the Chinese spring rolls. The tandoori platter had potato, mushroom, cauliflower, paneer and apple, served on a bed of salad. On the first glance the platter appeared over grilled with burn marks but on tasting I realised that it wasn’t so. It didn’t taste burnt though the pieces were a tad dry, which happens either when it’s over grilled or when enough oil/butter is not applied, resulting in the loss of moisture on exposure to high heat. I liked only the mushroom and potatoes. I found the cauliflower bland and a little under cooked. The paneer tikka was chewy and I guessed that either the cheese was not fresh or they had used packaged cheese. Tandoori apple was too sweet for my palate but for fruit lovers it could be a good option.
Spring rolls were a true winner. Nice filling, crispy outer cover and not over fried. These can become very popular with children as well as adults.
I was looking forward to the aloo methi which came last. I had imagined it to be bite sized crispy potato flavoured with kasoori methi but to our disappointment it was boiled, soft textured potato cooked with fenugreek leaves which was more like a dry curry or side dish for Indian bread and would have tasted great with dal and rice combo but definitely not as a starter .
The main course, followed the starters. All of us had different choices, a few preferred North Indian food and the others South Indian, so we decided to order both. In the North Indian category we ordered a Indian bread platter (tandoori roti, a variety of naan) to go along with Bhindi Masala, Palak Paneer & Lahsuni daal. The Indian breads were perfectly grilled and soft. Even after cooling down it didn’t turn chewy. I loved all of them
We were informed that Bhindi masala would be a thick gravy but when it was served we realised that it was gravy dish in which the bhindi/ okra pieces had disappeared. The palak paneer didn’t have any flavour of the spinach and was overpowered by the garam masala plus the paneer was chewy. I was utterly disappointed with the palak paneer. The dish that won every one’s heart was the humble lasuni daal which had an amazing taste and flavour.
The pulao which was served with raita was worth noticing with each rice grain separated, nicely cooked and had an inviting glaze. It had an amazing flavour and the only thing that hassled me while eating it was, removing too many whole spices that were added to enhance the flavouring of the rice. I guess the problem can be easily solved by boiling the whole spice mix in water and then adding only the flavoured water to the rice.
The South Indian Thali was the regular thali with regular stuff like sambhar, rasam, kuzhambu… It was declared okay by others with a few items noteworthy and a few disappointing. So was the Idiyappam with kadala curry.
It is said that the good things come at the last and I believed it when both the desserts ‘beetroot halwa and parippu payasam’ were served. They were the stars dishes of the day. Not only the preparations were good but I loved the bowl in which they were served. They were perfect for my palate..not overly sweet and had great taste!!
Last but not the least we were given beverage to drink called Tripple Choco Crunch. I was told that it’s a blend of milk, ice-cream and Choco cookies garnished with chocolate sauce and crushed Choco-chip cookies on the top. It looked very attractive and inviting. It was relished by the only kid who had accompanied his parents for food tasting. The smile on his face and the look of the drink ensured that it’s a drink to try when I visit next.
Over all it was a satisfactory experience at Gama Gamma and I would go back again for their amazing collection of soup, salad, starters and obviously the desserts. I definitely have a few suggestions for the restaurant being a foodie and a customer
i) avoid artificial food colours. In case you need to use, please use natural ones like the beetroot.
ii) use fresh and soft, cottage cheese
iii) never put garam masala in Palak paneer, let it have natural flavours.
iv) serve hot soup only