In the south of India lies the quintessential, coastal town of Pondicherry, or more fondly known as Pondy, with a visibly French influence. From their charming bright coloured colonial structures, narrow streets dotted with small cafés and boulangeries to chic boutiques and mouth watering Indian and French culinary delights, Pondicherry is enchanting. The charm of this little town is the inspiration of its namesake, Pondicheri Restaurant, nestled in the heart of Ilupeju.
Pondicheri is one of 15 restaurants under the Cilantro Group, and their first in Lagos, bringing a wealth of experience to the noticeably growing restaurant scene. Their space, spread across two floors, has both a formal dining room, with a more sophisticated design, and a fun, casual outdoor terrace with bright yellow walls and an eye-catching, oversized mural of the famous comic book character, Tintin, strolling through the streets of Pondicherry.
The menu at Pondicheri is a combination of the culinary delights of India and popular homemade Chinese specialties, bringing together two of the most popular international cuisines under one roof. They pride themselves in using fresh ingredients, which is what makes their food extra special. With the best of both worlds, you can feast on both Indian and Chinese dishes without having to choose just one.
Their Paneer Tikka is a must try! Made with real milk rather than powdered milk, their paneer is extra creamy and is their specialty. Their Peri Peri Chicken Tikka is a special twist on the traditional chicken tikka. Marinated in peri peri sauce and roasted in their tandoor, the chicken is soft and full of flavour. From their Chinese menu, the Hot Garlic Jumbo Prawns are everything you would expect them to be, and more. The generous-sized fried jumbo prawns are marinated with onions, garlic and chillies, giving them a red, crispy exterior, while the prawns are kept succulent inside. Their fresh minty-mocktail is the perfect accompaniment to the spices, taming them somewhat.
Indecisiveness leads to variety and diversity in the mains. The Mixed Chinese Greens, a colourful combination of fresh and crisp vegetables in a homemade Cantonese sauce, and the Veg Hakka Noodles, a simple, healthy Chinese specialty that is surprisingly delicious, delight on one side, with creamy Butter Chicken and fingerlicking Garlic Naan on the other. Your plate will become an amalgamation of two of the most influential cuisines in the world, with distinct flavours that, although don’t go together, are easily devoured side by side.
Dessert focusses on India. The traditional Gulab Jamun, fluffy, milk dumplings in sweet syrup, is ever present. In addition, there are two types of Kulfi, a rich, creamy ice cream made with milk that traditionally includes saffron, cardamom and pistachios. At Pondicheri, they have both the traditional Kulfi and the more exotic Paan Kulfi. Paan is made with betel leaves and is a popular ingredient in India. Most commonly used as a digestive, the Paan Kulfi has a distinct yet refreshing herb flavour, a nice end to a feast.
Pondicheri is a much welcomed addition to the mainland dining options, and a must visit for those looking to venture out of the Island for some authentic Indian dishes and fresh Chinese favourites. Give into your cravings, go for Indian, go for Chinese, or why not go for both?
2 Folayemi St, Ilupeju, Lagos
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