The essence of Kongu cuisine is in Valarmathi mess' delectable offerings, especially its special heirloom biryani

Magicians of Meat Coimbatores Valarmathi mess serves up delicacies from the Kongu heartland
news Food Tuesday, April 05, 2016 - 14:35

By Sherine Paul

In Magicians of Meat, TNM's special series on cuisines of the South, we visit Coimbatore's Valarmathi Mess - a smorgasbord of Kongu food that's known for its unique flavours, preparations and not to forget, lots of turmeric.

Tucked away in a little alley right next to the Cosmopolitan Club in Coimbatore is the 30 year old Valarmathi Mess – a Kongunadu specialty hotel that non-veg lovers throng to to get their fill.

Small, simple and sparse are the qualities that you first notice when you enter Valarmathi Mess. Late R Jayaram, started the place from scratch as a 6 seated mess that served food on a first come, first serve basis in 1986 – thirty years down the line, his son Rajan, has evolved the fledgling eatery into a popular restaurant where even families frequent. With a seating capacity of up to seventy customers at a time that serves authentic Kongunadu cuisine, this little restaurant has found a place in the heart of Coimbatoreans. Why this cuisine though? Rajan, the owner says, “I wanted to recreate the taste from my grandmother and mother’s kitchen and to bring the true Kongunadu flavour to Coimbatore.”  While his famous clientele include F1 driver Narain Karthikeyan and actor Vikram, students, office goers and families also frequent the place. 



Come prepared on an empty stomach as they boast of a very elaborate menu with an assortment of dishes. Non-veg patrons are spoilt for choice with different varieties of chicken, mutton and fish on the menu, vegetarian patrons should be warned well in advance that the fare on offer for them is limited to the bare minimum. The absolute must try starters are especially for seafood lovers, is the crunchy nethili fry that is fried to perfection or the delectable South Indian prawn fry that bursts with a combination of flavours along with the softness of the mildly spicy prawn. Both these starters are the standout dishes which will find you ordering second servings of the same.

Common ingredients that are used to prepare most of their dishes include garlic, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, clove and their very own chicken and mutton masala powders. If fish doesn’t appeal to you, the Chicken 65, Pichu pota kozhi, mutton chukka, chilli chicken, mutton keema balls are other options that are sure to satiate your senses though they were tad too spicy for me. Another specialty dish that is delicious is the egg kalaki – midway between an omlette and scrambled egg that just melts in your mouth. 

For the truly daring gourmand there are dishes like the kudal fry (fried intestines) that is slightly chewy, thala kari (goat head in gravy) or the soft brain fry. Rajan prides himself on his restaurant’s cleanliness both in house and in the kitchen. He reiterates the importance of choosing fresh ingredients very carefully while taking extra efforts whilst cleaning the meat that has led to the continued success of the restaurant. 

Valarmathi Mess owner Rajan Jayaraman

For the main course served on a traditional banana leaf you can either opt for their mutton biriyani that is rich in spices and has tender pieces of meat in it. You can either enjoy it with a bowl of thayir pachadi (onion raitha) or it goes along very well with a contrasting nattu kozhi curry or mutton curry. Another option is a full fledged thali meal that gives you the option of four curries along with two vegetables. One thing that particularly stood out is that instead of serving portions in a small bowl, patrons are served the curries in a much larger jug which gives them the liberty to serve themselves more. Also don’t miss having a bowl of their rasam. Health conscious people need not fear as you can opt for either chapattis or parottas along with a gravy of your choice. While for dinner you can try out their mutton kari dosa, that has spicy succulent pieces of mutton stuffed in a dosa. 

If you still have space for dessert or just want to cool your tongue off, a nice sweet bowl of kesari should do the trick or drink a soothing glass of sweet and salt lime soda. The quantities are sufficient for one to two people and the dishes give you real value for money with dishes ranging from Rs 16 to Rs 200. The restaurant is open for both lunch (11am-4pm) and dinner (7pm-11pm).

See also: Magicians of Meat: Inside Madurai’s famous Amma Mess


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