Foodie Finds: Southern Indian Spice at Karaikudi Chettinad
Southern India prides itself in spice. Although flavors are an important part of all Indian cuisine, many American people prefer northern Indian cuisine to spicier, southern cuisine. Karaikudi Chettinad, in Edison, New Jersey specializes in southern Indian flavors from Chettinad. Its dim, orange-yellow lighting mixed with the warm greeting of waiters gives you a feeling of stepping into South Asia.
Light at Indian Restaurant Karaikudi Chettinad
Beware! Spice, which may be your worst enemy, is for sure their best friend. It is impossible to find an item on the menu (besides the yogurt which is made to cool off your tongue, and the bread, if you order without garlic) that will not leave you sweating, for a few minutes at least. The miraculous part is that through the heat, you can still taste the flavors that were so carefully developed. The flavors are perfection. The taste of the curries is truly the highlight of the meal.
Southern Indian Food at Karaikudi Chettinad
Karaikudi Chettinad prides itself in offering both vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals. It is a great place to come if you have vegetarians in the family, but a non-vegetarian will have no problem finding a delicious meal. The menu is very reasonably priced, and it is split to separate vegetarian options from non-vegetarian options.
People eating at Karaikudi Chettinad
The waiters are willing to adjust spice levels in any way they can, and they give recommendations based on your spice tolerance. Try Aloo Gobi, a vegetarian mixture of potatoes and cauliflower. This dish, like the others, has a fantastic mixture of ginger, garlic, onions, cumin, and saffron. It is, of course, somewhat spicy, but one of their more modest dishes. Another great non-vegetarian, not crazy spicy favorite is Palak Chicken, which is made with a delicious spinach curry. Be sure to try the garlic naan, too. Even without the dipping curry, the naan still carries lots of flavors. They cook it in a clay oven that is around 450 degrees.
Clay oven for making Naan
Dessert is the most interesting part of the meal. The restaurant’s specialty is called Gulab Jamun. If you are just a slightly adventurous eater, be sure to taste this Indian delicacy. It is a sweet dish made of dough milk and covered in butter. There is also about a full centimeter of butter for the dough ball to sit in at the bottom of the bowl. It is a deep fried dessert, and the texture is that of corn meal. If you are up for trying new things, the dessert will surely top off you meal, while leaving you walking out of the small restaurant with feeling in your mouth again.
If you love spice, Karaikudi Chettinad is the place for you. But before you enter, remind your taste buds that you once loved them.
1671 Oak Tree Road
Edison, NJ 08820
Sarah Nelson is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program.
All photos courtesy and copyright Sarah Nelson