Starting last night, Kerala Concept Restaurant opened its doors and released the inviting aromas of modern South Indian cuisine onto Gertrude Street.

It’s a convenient partnership for both restaurants; Mighty Boy is waiting on a liquor licence before it starts opening at night, leaving the space empty for Kerala founder Mischa Tropp and his team (many of whom are ex-Proud Mary) to move in.

“For the last 12 to 14 months I’ve been experimenting, refining and modernising my food with a couple of different chefs,” says Tropp.

“My background is Indian food, so I generally bring on a French-trained chef to balance that out.”

This time Tropp has created the menu with Laura Neville, the current chef at Code Black Coffee. For Kerala’s previous pop-up at Tomboy, it was Emily Wright of Palomino.

While the residency at Tomboy was a resounding success, Tropp was anxious to spice up the menu.

“[During the Tomboy pop-up] I was still figuring out what Kerala was, so it was quite basic, just curries and rice. I didn’t get to cook to my ability, and I got bored of the menu quite quickly.”

In comparison, Tropp sounds thrilled with his new, six-dish menu, but is reluctant to call it straight-up South Indian.

“Five of the six dishes are recognisably South Indian, but with a twist. For example, we’re doing a deep-fried hung yoghurt, and you won’t see that on the menu in India.”

The real outlier dish is the Beets, Beer and Beef: beer-braised organic beef, roasted beetroot and tamarind masala with taro crisps.

“That’s quite a French-looking dish, but all the flavours and spices are very South Indian,” he says.

Another theme tying Tropp and Neville’s menu together is a lightness not always present in Indian food.

“The food isn’t heavy at all, we don’t use rich spices or cream. I really care about how people feel after a meal, and people will leave feeling really good,” he says.

It’s best to get down there quickly, as Tropp himself doesn’t know how long the pop-up will last.

“It could be two weeks or two months. It all depends on how I feel and where I want to take it.”

Kerala Concept Restaurant will run for a limited time at 59–61 Gertrude Street, and is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 6.30pm. No bookings.