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For the past 14 years, owners Senthil Rajamani and Jose Pullopilly have been waking up Newtown’s population to the authentic cuisine of India at Kolam, a 65-seat restaurant on South Main Street. The restaurant is named for the age-old tradition in south India of drawing intricate patterns on the ground using finely ground rice flour.
The dining room is separated into two sections by a richly decorated fabric-covered half wall. Tables draped with white tablecloths and colorful cloth napkins add a formal air at both lunchtime and dinner. The far end of the dining room is dominated during lunch hours by the popular $13.95 buffet, drawing customers from all over the state.
Kolam has made a name serving regional Indian foods, including south Indian recipes not usually found on the menus of most Indian restaurants. A complex number of ingredients makes southern Indian cuisine stand out from other regions. There is a distinct cooking method for each region, explained Mr Rajamani.
More of an art than a science, many ancient preparation methods are in use at Kolam. Mr Rajamani says some of the dishes served have been learned from the families of the restaurant kitchen’s team. Kolam is attentive to the health-conscious diner, cooking with a small amount of canola oil when needed, with very few menu items deep-fried, and adhering to the Indian tradition of using a lot of vegetables. Those who favor vegetarian dishes will find a wide array of suitable entrees.
The Kolam website kolamrestaurant.com explains benefits of various spices. Common seasonings in southern food include curry leaves, coconut, and mustard seeds, followed by red chilies, turmeric, and fenugreek seeds. Menu items are cooked to order and spice levels or ingredients can be adjusted to meet diners’ preferences.
A courteous and friendly staff is happy to guide diners, both new to and more experienced with Indian cuisine, in making selections.
Small group cooking classes to learn about Indian cuisine and cooking techniques can be arranged by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Indian-themed menus for corporations, clubs and organizations, and all private events are popular, and Kolam offers both onsite and off-site catering, with full service available. A full catering menu and prices can be found at the website.
A Sample Of The Menu:
Appetizers: More than a dozen options, including Kolam Moti Saag, a pearl of cheese wrapped with honey-glazed, fennel-flavored tomato chutney.
Soup: Chennai rasam offers soup lovers a flavorful south Indian hot and sour tomato soup with garlic, tamarind, herbs, and spices.
Tandoori and Kebabs: Chicken tandoori, the Indian “barbecue” of marinated meat cooked in a traditional clay tandoor, is popular, especially with first-time customers; regular customers relish tandoori salmon. A mixed meat kebab offers a variety of meats and seafood cooked in the tandoor.
Seafood: Customers go for the Kerala fish curry, cooked in a traditional Kerala gravy, tempered with mustard seeds, fenugreek, and curry leaves.
Lamb: Chameli chops are a Kolam recommendation: New Zealand lamb chops scented with nutmeg and ajwain, a Kashmiri delicacy.
Chicken: Chicken breast broiled in a tandoor oven and cooked in creamy tomato sauce makes chicken tikka masala an all-time favorite. Spice lovers go for the Kozhi Chettinad chicken.
Vegetable Specialties: Numerous choices include avial, consisting of raw banana, eggplant, potatoes, yams, carrots, and squash in a curried coconut yogurt sauce.
Rice and Breads: Choose saffron basmati rice or “Chitrannam,” flavored rice. Numerous Indian breads range from the puffed unleavened whole-wheat pooris to kheema naan, bread stuffed with spiced, ground lamb.
Children’s Menu: There are several child-friendly items, such as the cheese naan, and any of the kebab dishes being especially popular.
Beverages: Full bar, specialty cocktails like the mango Margarita. Wide selection of world wines to complement the cuisine; Indian and domestic beers by the bottle. Nonalcoholic mango lassi, a yogurt drink, or the mango lassi with rum.
All menu selections are available for takeout.
Kolam, 316 South Main Street (Route 25), 203-426-7143, serves lunch, Monday through Friday, 11:30 to 2:30, dinner 5 to 10 pm; lunch Saturday, noon to 3 pm, dinner 5 to 10 pm; lunch Sunday, noon to 3 pm; dinner, 4:30 to 9:30 pm. Reservations are accepted for dinners only, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Follow Kolam Restaurant on Facebook. For more information, a full menu, and special coupons visit kolamrestaurant.com.