The French are really proud and passionate about their cuisine, some of the worlds best chefs and restaurants are influenced by French cuisine. French gastronomy is also in the UNESCO’s list of the world’s “intangible cultural heritage”.
Pondicherry being a former colony of France and as a city that promotes its French heritage, one would expect to find some authentic French restaurants, but it is not that easy. The French quarter (heritage quarter) of Pondicherry has several multi-cuisine restaurants but none of them are dedicated only to French cuisine. This can be quite confusing (which restaurant? which dish?), especially if you’re a hungry traveler who wants to get a taste of France.
ZoomPondy.com has made a list of 13 French dishes that you should eat when visiting Pondicherry. The restaurants serving them are also mentioned. Please feel free to comment on your favourite dishes and share with friends. Bon Appétit!
Salad Niçoise is a colourful and delicious salad originating from the coastal French city of Nice, near the Mediterranean Sea.
This healthy salad may be served with/without lettuce and includes tomatoes, tuna, hard-boiled eggs, anchovies, olives, green beans, potatoes, shallots and other ingredients. It is served with a vinaigrette dressing.
Available at LB2 Lounge, Maison Rose, Satsanga, The Promenade.
Quiche is a popular French savoury, served at many Cafés, Bars and Bakeries across France. It is an open baked tart with a savoury egg custard filling, with cheese, meat, seafood, and/or vegetables.
There are several variants, quiche Lorraine (with Bacon) is the popular one, the other variants are quiche au fromage (with cheese), quiche aux champignons (mushrooms) or florentine (spinach) and provençale (tomatoes). Quiche can be served hot or cold.
Insider Tip: Mini quiche / tarts can be ideal for serving at cocktail parties and casual get together with friends.
Available at Baker Street, New Banana Café, Café de flore, Hot Breads.
This French bistro classic, Steak-frites is America’s favourite French dish. Both Belgium and France claims to be the country of invention for “Steak Frites” and “French Fries”.
Restaurants choose to serve their own variations of this dish, varying from the cut of the beef, cooking style and the sauce. Traditionally, the steak is fried in a pan with butter (or olive oil), cooked to rare or medium-rare in a pan reduction sauce, and served with crispy French Fries.
Insider Tip: Select the right cooking style (rare, medium or well-done) and ask the waiter for the available choices of sauce (bearnaise, blue cheese, pepper, mushroom, red wine sauce, etc). Steak-frites is best accompanied with red wine.
Available at LB2 Lounge, Le Club, La Plancha, The Promenade, Le Dupleix, Villa Shanti, Satsanga, Maison Rose.
Coq au vin is a classic French chicken casserole. It is a chicken braised with wine, lardons, mushrooms and garlic. The wine used is typically from Burgundy but many regions of France have their own variants using local wine.
According to several legends, this dish is traced back to ancient Gaul and Julius Caesar. While Caesar was conquering Gaul, the locals sent him a rooster with a note on its neck that read “Bon Appetit”. Caesar immediately ordered his chef to cook the bird in wine and local herbs, and invited the Gauls to dinner.
Available at LB2 Lounge, The Promenade, Le Club.
Sole meunière is a classic French dish, consisting of flat fish called Sole (Nakku Meen in Tamil).
The fish is dredged in milk and flour, fried in butter and served with rich nutty flavours of the remaining brown butter sauce and lemon. The fish is crispy around the edges, moist and tender in the center.
Available at LB2 Lounge.
Croque-monsieur is another French dish that has been popular in Parisian cafés and bars since the early 1900s. It is more than just a simple ham and cheese sandwich. The secret behind this grilled sandwich involves in using quality bread, ham, cheese (usually Emmental or Gruyère) and béchamel sauce on top.
The literal translation of “Croque-monsieur” is “Mr.Crunch”. When this sandwich is served with a poached (or fried) egg on top, it is referred as “Croque-madame”, meaning “Mrs.Crunch”.
Available at Artika Café, Café des Arts, Café de Flore.
Bouillabaisse is a traditional fish stew from southern France, in particular from the city of Marseille. This stew typically contains several kinds of fresh fish and locally available seafood. The other ingredients are onions, tomatoes, potatoes, fennel, parsley, garlic, olive oil and saffron.
Insider Tip: This dish is typically eaten as a main course and may be accompanied with white wine and some bread.
Available at Maison Rose, Mango Hill.
Walt Disney’s film “Ratatouille” was titled after this classical French vegetable dish, originating from the city of Nice.
Ratatouille is typically served as a side dish, accompanied by pasta, rice or bread. The main ingredients are tomatoes, garlic, onions, aubergines / eggplant, courgette / zucchini, bell peppers and herbes de Provence, which is a mixture of dried herbs (thyme, marjoram, rosemary, oregano, etc).
Available at LB2 Lounge, New Banana Café.
A French crêpe is a very thin pancake (different from the smaller and thicker American version). It can be served either as a dessert or as a savoury dish.
Desert crêpes are served with a variety of fillings, from the simplest icing sugar, to chocolate sauce, nutella, marmalade, banana, cream, etc. For a special experience, try the flambéed Crêpe Suzette. This crêpe is topped with lightly grated orange peel, caramelized sugar and liqueur that will be lit upon presentation (by some restaurants).
Savoury crêpes can be filled with cheese, eggs, mushrooms, spinach, ratatouille (vegetables) and/or various meat products.
Available at Artika Café, Café des Arts, Villa Shanti, LB2 Lounge, The Promenade, Café de flore, New Banana Café, The Indian Kaffe Express.
Crème caramel (also known as flan or caramel custard) is a custard desert with a soft caramel layer on top.
Crème Brûlée (also known as burnt cream or trinity cream) is also a custard desert with a contrasting hard caramel layer on top. The custard base is generally flavoured with Vanilla. Sugar is generally sprinkled on top and burnt using a cooking blowtorch.
Available at La Plancha, Maison Rose, The Promenade, Villa Shanti, Satsanga, Le Club.
Cheese platter is a choice of different cheeses typically served on a wooden board, with baguette or some bread. It is usually part of a dinner buffet but some restaurants serve it as à la Carte.
Cheese Fondue is generally associated with Switzerland, but it is also popular in the alpine region of Italy and France. Different types of cheeses are melted in warm white wine, served on a pot in the center of the table. The dish is supposed to be eaten by dipping condiments (such as bread chunks, olives, gherkins, pickled onions, sausages, potatoes, etc.) in the cheese, with the help of a long fork.
Insider Tip: A glass of red wine is the perfect drink to accompany a cheese platter or a cheese fondue.
Available at La Plancha, La Maison Rose, The Promenade Hotel, Café de flore.
A croissant is a fluffy, crescent shaped viennoiserie pastry made of a layered dough and butter. It was popularised by French bakers around 1938 and is based on the Austrian kipferl. There can be many variants like the almond-croissant, ham and cheese croissant, etc. However, the butter-croissant is the traditional option, mostly had during breakfast, warm and fresh out of the oven.
Insider Tip: Croissant is a good breakfast pastry, it can be enjoyed with some marmalade and a cup of coffee/tea.
Available at Baker Street, Café des Arts, Artika Café, Hidesign Café, The Promenade, Le Dupleix, Hot Breads.
In Paris, some Pâtisserie (French pastry bakeries) are held in the same high regard as famous haute-couture stores.
French pastries are single portion desserts that come in many shapes and flavours. They are made with whipped cream, butter, chocolate, fruits, nuts, etc. Creating wonderful and delicious French pastries is the passion of every patisserie chef.
Insider Tip: When you are with a group of friends, select different pastries and share so that everyone can taste different flavours.
Available at Baker Street, Maison Rose, Café des Arts.