Chef Asha has a true passion for sharing her delicious cuisine and her native Kerala's culinary heritage. Taste the flavors of coastal South Indian cuisine and experience the dishes Asha grew up with, either with a lunch thali plate or a dinner biryani feast.
Chef Asha Gomez is all about delicious, home-style Southern cooking... and no, we're not talking the biscuits 'n gravy kind of Southern. (Though there actually is some serious fried chicken on the menu.) In the cuisine of the South Indian state of Kerala, bold spices (think ginger, cloves, and, yes, plenty of cardamom) mingle with tropical ingredients like coconut and mango to create Indian fare rather unlike anything else Atlanta has tasted. Asha has a passion not just for recreating the dishes of her native Kerala, but for sharing those meals — and their history — with her guests. It all started with Spice Route, a supper club where strangers feasted together on course after course of Asha Gomez's home cooking. After countless suppers spent introducing Atlantans to the bold, flavorful cuisine of coastal Kerala (and seeing her guests become smitten with the dishes she grew up with), Asha decided to make the leap from underground to brick-and-mortar. Thus, Cardamom Hill was born, giving Atlanta a place to experience a kind of Indian cuisine that hitherto couldn't really be found in our city. And even though you no longer have to snag a secret supper club invite to feast on beef biryani and her already infamous fried chicken, dining at Cardamom Hill still feels — and tastes — like you're a guest in Asha's home.
Join Cardamom Hill for lunch, and you'll join the small army of loyal followers who've swapped out their brown bags for Asha's thalis: small platters reminiscent of a bento box or a meat-and-three. The four dishes in the thali change each day, but always include a main dish, rice pilau, spiced legumes, and a seasonal salad sweetened with tropical fruit. A bowl of Asha's infamous Kerala-style fried chicken (christened "crack chicken" by bloggers for its habit-forming qualities) with, perhaps, a lychee salad? Follow it with a dessert of homemade chai tea and a crispy, biscotti-like tea rusk, and you may never return to your brown-bagging days again.
If you decide to make it a dinner date, you'll be treated to four courses of the dishes that Asha grew up with in Kerala, and you'll begin your feast by sipping on Cardamom's signature cocktail, a summery concoction of mango, ginger, lemongrass, and gin. The light, tropical flavors perfectly compliment the bold aromas of your first course, Asha's seasonal vegetable stew simmered in a spiced coconut milk broth. After noshing on a deliciously light, fruity Kerala salad for two comes the main event: the biryani, a paella-like spiced basmati rice dish bursting with rich, heady flavors. The grand finale? A dessert of roasted fruit, drizzled in a cardamom saffron sauce and sweetened with jaggery, a golden-brown condensed cane sugar. Light, fresh, and — dare we say? — even a bit on the healthy side, it's the perfect way to end an evening of experiencing Kerala. Learning new things never tasted so sweet. Please call ahead to make dinner reservations.