Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Zambar-The authentic? South Indian cuisine restaurant

As I started jotting down the summary of my visit to Zambar, I was curious to know what Zambar means, and a quick google search threw up some wiki results

·         Zambar River, a river of Tajikistan
·         Zambar, Afghanistan, a settlement in Sabari District, Khost Province, Afghanistan
·         Zambar, Iran, a settlement in Markazi Province, Iran
·         Zambar, Iraq, a settlement in Neineva Province, Iraq
·         Zambar, Uzbekistan, a settlement in Sirdaryo Province, Uzbekistan
·         Zambara, a settlement in Central Region, Malawi
·         Jabal Zambar, a mountain of Iraq
·         Zambar Toy, river of Khost Province, Afghanistan

None of which could be linked to Zambar – the restaurant, which serves cuisines from the south of India. Another search, this time on, did not return any results and I finally found out that Zambar is run by a company called Lite Bite Foods, part owned by Mr.Burman of Dabur, which run a mixture of successful and not so popular brands of restaurants in India – Punjab Grill, Asia Seven, Fres Co, Pollo Campero, Baker Street to name a few and as they put it, Zambar is much more than Sambar with a Zangy, Zingy Twist. Well, not an impressive explanation for the name !

I wanted to visit this place, when I saw it in Amanora Mall few months ago, but by the time I made up my mind and went there again, this place was closed in Amanora and thus could only be visited in Phoenix Market City.

Ambience, Décor & Seating

Zambar is located level 2, at Phoenix Market City, a little distance away from the food court. It’s a non-descript place from the outside and the first impression was that it was dull but the interiors are nicely done. The restaurant seating is divided into two sections, one being inside the boat structure which they have created and the rest as normal seating.

The walls have framed pictures and paintings from the south along with some decorative sculptures. Some sea sand is spread next to the boat which they have as part of the décor, nice touch for a restaurant which claims to specialize in coastal food.

We opted to be seated inside the boat. The tables are good sturdy types, big enough to accommodate all the food that you order. But the cushions on the sofa were stained and dirty, a thumbs down here for Zambar.


I really liked the music that was being played; these were some good south Indian songs with nice and soft music. The volume was just right and that makes a lot of difference! Thumbs up Zambar for getting this right


The menu is elaborate but one of our three choices was not available. We asked for a Mocktail, a pint of Budweiser and Mojito. However, all they had in beers was Fosters, and we reluctantly ordered the same. 


The menu is a mix of food from the four southern states – Andhra Pradesh / Karnataka / Kerala / Tamil Nadu. While primarily it is positioned as Chettinad cuisine, which has its origin in Tamil Nadu.

On offer is a Thali experience, both veg and non-veg along with varieties of delicacies from the region in all sections – Veg / Sea Food / Non Veg / Rice. There is some description about the dish below the name of the dish in the menu card, but this is not standardized. While most of the dishes tell about the origin of this dish, not all have this.


We ordered for Vada Fantasy ( 8 pcs, 2 each of 4 types of wadas) and it wasn’t an exceptional item so to say. It has Aalo Bonda ( Potato Wada), Medu Wada, Onion Pakoda and Dal wada. Only the last being a genuinely different wada. The starters certainly were oilier.

The main course consisted of Cheppala Pulusu (Rs. 525) – which was Surmai fish cooked in tangy red gravy and was a preparation from Andhra, Malabar Veg Stew (Rs. 325) – which was mixed vegetables simmered in coconut milk cutty, Chicken Chettinad(Rs.425) – The famous Chettinad preparation, Malabar Parotha (Rs. 50), Idiappam (Rs.55), Plain Rice (Rs.150) &  Rassam

Of all the above, the vegetarian dish has a peculiar smell and taste, which we could not identify till the end. The fish curry and its gravy were perfectly done and tangy and the chicken chettinad was authentic with succulent pieces of chicken perfectly cooked.

The Malabar parotha, could have been much better, unlike Idiappam which was done nicely. It felt as if it was one of those ready to cook parothas and not the regular ones done fresh which have layers of parotha to be had with chicken or fish, as they have it in Kerala.

While Rassam was available as part of the Thali menu, it was not listed as a standalone item in the menu. However, the waiters were kind enough to offer us rassam as a separate dish (offcourse charged ! ) and thus we enjoyed Rassam Rice as well to complete a perfect south indian food medley.

The rassam was much below expectation and one which cannot be classified as authentic.
Not to be missed is a complimentary basket of papad but not with the chutneys on the table, which had no taste.


The staff is friendly and helpful. However, it takes a long time to get your food once you have placed the order. The wait goes beyond the standard 15 minutes at restaurants and hence I suggest one orders their food early, especially if you are hungry.


This restaurant is moderately priced from a specialty restaurant perspective. And meal for two without drinks should be around INR 1200.

Overall Rating

The food is good and I would like to try this place again and try some different dishes. Needs to be a little quick on the service front and maintain cleanliness of the seating area. Also some more lighting is required in the restaurant

Level 2, Phoenix Market City
Wiman Nagar, Pune


  1. Hi Ameya,
    Nice blog! neatly organized in a linear fashion and pithy. Thanks for clearing up the name issue. I always thought the name Zambar was the handiwork of a semiliterate signboard painter, e.g. I often see IDLI SAMBAR spelt as ITALY SAMBAR on many roadside stalls or even handcarts.
    Authentic Rasam is hard to come by in Pune, in most eateries here they just filter out the vegetables from the Sambhar and call it Rasam. For a taste of true Rasam it is better to go to Chettinad or Palakkad or if not so strongly motivated, get yourself invited to some TamBra home in Pune which has a Maami in it for Palakkad style Rasam, and to a Chettiyar home for Chettinad r
    All the best,

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