“You cannot have Kerala cuisine without coconuts,” says chef Margaret Pak, who opened the much-anticipated restaurant Thattu with her husband, Vinod Kalathil, in April. “Kerala is tropical by nature and lined with coconuts.” She serves dishes traditional to that region of India, where her husband grew up, as well as others inspired by it. “It’s a long strip on the western coast, so seafood is integral to the cuisine,” Pak adds, also noting that curry leaves, cardamom, and black pepper are prevalent. “We say Kerala is the spice garden of India.” See below for Pak’s breakdown of the perfect order at Thattu, including, yes, tastes of coconut. 2601 W. Fletcher St., Avondale

The Perfect Order at Thattu

Kallumakaya, Chicken Ishtu and Appam, Pork Chop Peralan, Meen Pollichathu, Pazham Pori, and Kappa Bonda from Thattu

1. Kallumakaya

“These fried mussels are the sleeper hit of the menu,” says Pak. “They’re marinated with Kashmiri chile, turmeric, and salt, and we fry them with onions and curry leaves and pair them with a watermelon radish salad. They’re great with beer.” $14

2. Chicken Ishtu and Appam

“Appam, a rice and coconut crêpe, is a must. It’s fermented and a little sour and sweet. The ishtu has chunks of potatoes, carrots, peas, and chicken with a touch of black pepper and cardamom. It’s a lighter bite.” $18

3. Pork Chop Peralan

“Kerala is one of the only states that serves beef and pork, since it’s religiously diverse. We do a chop with collard greens and a yucca cake. Collard greens are not a vegetable you’d get there, but the flavor of the coconut and tomato base is very Kerala.” $32

4. Meen Pollichathu

“This is more traditional. The tilapia is steamed in banana leaves and comes with tomato-basil gravy and turmeric-lime rice, which is something I make on the regular.” $25

5. Pazham Pori

“Get these plantains for dessert. They’re deep-fried in gluten-free flour and rice flour and come with coconut crème anglaise, powdered sugar, and mint.” $8

6. Kappa Bonda

“When we’re visiting Vinod’s mom, we eat yucca regularly. We boil and mash it, then stuff, deep-fry, and top it with onion-tamarind chutney, a spicy, peppery chutney I learned from his mom.” $6