Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Kerala, meanwhile

There was an exchange of food mails in the mail group that I am part of and that set me thinking on Kerala (I am a veggie, so my pov is mostly veggie).

Keralas eateries have this penchant which I have not seen in any other part of the country - they display food in glass cases and you just have to assume that food is fresh. There is no question, no answer. You assume that it is made on the same day. There is no pretense of even reheating the thing. You want it, they pick it off the glass case and plonk it in front of you. Most items in the case, needless to say are stuff that can be prepared and kept - very little items that need to be prepared after the customer orders it.

Then there are the dosa shops - which prepare items - and these are mostly found in the more touristy places. They have a ghee roast - which can be quite good, if you are lucky. And then of course, there is the ubiquitous masala dosa or the idli - but this is not what you can get in all parts of Kerala. It is available only in places with high "turnover". These are an improvement over the earlier tea shops which basically served tea, coffee or milk and bananas (and one or two items in glass cases.)

Another favourite in Kerala - are the meals. Which is like the Andhra meals in Bangalore, but somewhat lighter on the stomach. Earlier most places served healthy parboiled red rice with an option of white, but now it is somewhat reversed. In most places, the default option is white rice.

But if you did not know about these aspects of Keralas cuisine (and did not have a heart for puttu and idiyappam), then you would think, rather mistakenly that the Kerala porotta (pronounced thus) is the big thing in Kerala. Well, it is, in a way - undeniably tasty when hot with a hot curry, it is made of maida and oil and maida and oil and some more maida and oil. It is a health hazard, but well, indulge in it when you are in Kerala.

Kerala is one of the few places which being in the regular tourist circuit has managed to stay reasonably outside the regular tourist paneer butter masala and masala dosa trap. Though the restaurants in the city would please the average tourist Ramu, the interiors still resist them stubbornly...or do they?


Kavi said...

Yes. Talk of Maida and oil ! Therein lies the ingredient to the one large pack that men carry !

The kerela porota has become mainstay of the South Tamil diet as well.

And so, six packs are a big bad word. 'One Large Pack' reigns !

Dhanush said...

The point you made about the glass cases doesn't make sense to me. Is it bad or good? If I believe, most of these glass cases are put up in small time tea shops, where ppl come for a quick "chaya and kadi", and most of these items like pazhamppori, parippuvada, bonda, etc etc will get finished at a brisk pace, and the glass cases are refilled. So what big deal about them? I believe its far more hygienic than that of the umpteen Sagars here.

And I also disagree with your point abt Kerala Meals. Its not like Andhra Meals in Bangalore. Its a regular diet of every Malayali in the state, where as Andhra Meals is cheaper packaged version of Andhra food. But I am surprised to hear that the default option is now white. Thats really bad.

usha said...

the post reminded me of this argument I had picked up with this punju friend, on what's superior among naan and porotta.. and then we finally confessed that given an option, we'd rather stay away from both of them, all thanks to those loads of maida and oil/butter.