Puchong Mess aka Puchong Chettinad Mess is nestled on the first floor along a row of shop lots in Bandar Puteri Puchong – not that easy to find but plug in “Chakra Catering Services” on Waze and it will point you to the right direction. This place has been on my list for more than a year; the pandemic made it challenging for me to travel the distance for what is said to be “the best banana leaf rice I’ll eat”.
So Jien and I went, with our friends and May Anne in tow. This was right before our third lockdown, so already, strict SOPs were in place and naturally, the food options were slightly limited. You will be required to remove your shoes before entering the dining area, where tables are arranged like a mess hall. I’m not sure about the new table arrangement at the moment though.
Daily specials are written on the whiteboard on the wall – it was Chicken Briyani when we went, served with mutton bone dalcha and onion raita. We ordered that, and three servings of banana leaf rice with fried squid, mutton varuval and chicken 65.
Puchong Mess is known for its mutton varuval – a spicy, dry curry of mutton chunks and spices such as cardamon, fennel seed, star anise and garam masala. And Puchong Mess serves a mean version of mutton varuval; tender mutton and a robust, complex layering of spices and grated coconut.
Fiery-hot, aromatic and delicious with parboiled rice. This is a must-order, if you’re into varuval.
We also really enjoyed the fried squid which is lightly battered and deep-fried. The squid is tender and sweet, while the batter is crisp – almost tempura-like, but a spiced-up version. We ordered another plate of this because it was that addictive.
Puchong Mess cooks fried items in small batches and portions them out in small metal plates for customers. So you can almost be assured of hot food, rather than fried items that have been out in the open for hours. The chicken 65 is one of them – still warm and crispy on the outside.
Seasoning is on-point here. Puchong Mess’ chicken 65 is juicy, packed with flavour from the marinade and curry leaves. I like that they did not over-fry the chicken, which many banana leaf rice restaurants do.
Curry choices are standard – chicken, fish, dhal and egg. Puchong Mess’ curries aren’t the decadent type but they taste good and complements the banana leaf rice. The chicken and fish curry is quite spicy, true to how Chettinad curries should be. If you can’t take the heat, stick with dhal.
Also, please don’t go asking the if they have a “less spicy” curry, which I noticed is quite common (at least what I’ve observed) in Indian/banana leaf rice restaurants. Nobody would (dare) go into an Indian household and tell the matriarch that on a scale of 1 to 10, they want spice level 5 for their curry. The matriarch would beat you with her ladle, I bet.
The chicken biryani is one of the best (if not ) the bestI’ve eaten. Fluffy, beautifully flavoured long grain rice that is filled with tender, well-marinated chicken chunks, it was fabulous. The mutton bone dalcha really binds all flavours together and gives the rice that rich, meaty flavour. I can only imagine how delicious the mutton biryani would taste – it’s a Sunday special if you’re planning to try this. Chicken biryani is a Saturday special.
Puchong Mess may be a tad far from where I live, but for good Chettinad food, I would go the distance. If you’re living close-by, lucky you!
Food: 8/10 (pork-free)
Verdict: Currently my favourite spot for banana leaf rice. You have to try their mutton varuval!
Puchong Chettinad Mess
(Chakra Catering Services)
11, Jalan Puteri 7/9,
Bandar Puteri Puchong,
Tel: 03-8060 2991
Business hours: 9am till 3pm