"Last year, it was all about bringing my mother's Kerala kitchen to Atlanta," Chef Asha tells us. "Now, I'm finding the synergy between the Indian South and the American South." And it's a beautiful thing. (Ahem: Kerala chicken 'n waffles, anyone?)It was only a few years ago when Atlantans had their first taste of Asha Gomez's cooking in a certain cozily clandestine supper club. Shortly after her beloved underground Spice Route dinner parties became, well, not-so-underground anymore, Asha made the leap to brick-and-mortar with Cardamom Hill, where she set out to share her culinary heritage and her passion for Kerala cuisine with ATL. And it wasn't long before Asha's passion for the flavors of South India caught on. In other words: ATL was smitten. And we weren't the only ones: a nomination from the James Beard Awards and a tip of the hat from Bon Appetit, to name a few, proved that much.
While Cardamom Hill is still the epicenter of Kerala cuisine in Atlanta, Asha's own culinary direction is ever-evolving. "Last year, it was all about bringing my mother's Kerala kitchen to life in Atlanta," she tells us. "Now, I'm finding the synergy between the Indian South and the American South." And it's a beautiful thing. That "crack chicken" we all went crazy for (and which recently won a nod as some of the best in the country)? You can now find it drizzled with maple syrup atop a big, chunky waffle in Asha's deliciously unique iteration of a Southern soul food classic. Even shrimp 'n grits, that heralded staple of the low country, pays homage to Asha's home state, with tangy curried shrimp served over grits and lentils.
But before you go dropping the f-bomb, know this: this is so much more than "fusion." Asha's not just sprinkling curry spices atop Southern classics willy-nilly; she's carefully and creatively crafting dishes steeped in the traditions of each cuisine. (Another quintessential Southern dish, Country Captain, was given the Kerala treatment—but only after Asha experimented with no less than 25 recipes before getting her version juuust right.) By paying homage to both her native Kerala and the land she calls home today, Asha says she's becoming part of a "centuries-old evolution of a cuisine." And if crack chicken 'n waffles is part of that evolution, we're happy to come along for the ride.
Shrimp Gumbo, $14
Kerala Fried Chicken & Waffles, $24
Chicken Country Captain, $24
Shrimp & Grits, $24
Smothered Pork, $25
Kerala Railways Beef Curry, $27
Rice Biryani, $28 (Vegetable) to $36 (Goat)
Monday - Thursday, 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. (Kitchen closes at 9:30 p.m.)
Friday & Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. (Kitchen closes @ 10:30 p.m.)