Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Sulaimani 168, Thrissur - An Absolute Must Visit!

Thrissur is not too well known in the Kerala tourist circuit. There are places to see aplenty, sure, but it's not, thank god, attained a certain arty farty wannabe level. Yet, while one may lap up the small town ambience and sweet smiles of the locals, it is still highly rewarding to find, in such an unpretentious town, an eatery fit to charm the gods and win the blase heart of any globe trotter.

Almost every night we'd surf the Net for where to dine. That night we first set out on foot to Hotel Sapphire. It was nearby and reviews led us to think that we might have a tasty dinner there. Alas, they mainly had chicken/egg dishes. Nothing out of the way and snooty waiters. So we made our way out.

As we tried to hail an auto to take us some place else, we recalled a couple of rave reviews of Sulaimani.  My partner gave the automan some general directions and started telling me about the man after whom the place is named. I was sold on the place before even setting eyes on it!

As soon as you enter, you'll see a small but elegant display of Vaikom books. Vaikom Muhammad Basheer was a good friend of my partner's father. I look forwards to finding some translations of his writings, given how my partner described them: honest writing, vibrant...

The decor, the sultry Hindustani strains wafting unobtrusively in and out of consciousness, the service with the sweetest smile, the food, the whole package and, most of all, the food! 

I'm afraid I can only show you what we had: a meat dish and the most divine nool puttu. Because we're small eaters but I can assure you that I drooled over all the dishes being served to others and over how they were served. It's a must have experience.

But I'm getting ahead of myself! Let me first introduce you to the walls, the ceiling, the washbasin area, the restroom, this side and that, the place engulfs you in waves of art and literature - what is to the local the most exquisite nostalgia.

Though the place is small, it's accommodative, with a couple of the most exotic little private dining arrangements and there's always new customers coming in, waiting patiently for their turn.

Of course the very first thing we ordered was the Winey Sulaimani of which we'd read online and here's what it was!

beaded bubbles winking at the brim
A very gentle and refreshing glass of grape juice! Non alcoholic, of course, but, nonetheless very evocative of Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat and all that jazz.

Let me leave you with a short stroll through the premises. As you enter to your right...

Go wash your hands before you dine...

After the Winey, you might like to visit the restroom...

Early in our visit to Thrissur, we were hanging out at the KTDC beer place and our companion was fantasising about an ideal place where creativity and good food would come together. I bit back telling him that, quite often, that of which we dream takes shape somewhere. And it does not necessarily feature us nor come to our notice.

As serendipity would have it, we got to visit Sulaimani 168 the night before we left, where art and good food wove an incredible magic over our senses.
I look forwards to more visits on future trips so's I can try out more things on their menu.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Radish Greens and Potato Stir Fry, Indian Style (Mooli Aloo Ki Bhujia)

Although there were many fine vegetables in Malaysia, I was basically homesick for Indian vegetables. When we returned to India, it was a great thrill to feast my eyes on the wares of our vegetable sellers and gorge on dishes made with what I bought from them.

Often, certain vegetables are sold with their greens. Many such greens can be used in dals (lentil stews) or in meat or chicken dishes. Radish greens do form many dishes all by themselves, too.

Fresh radish greens can also be used in salads. Normally, I'd just wash the greens really well, remove most of the stalk and keep the freshest parts. Chop really fine and toss into your everyday simple salad to jazz it up.

What I find the tastiest, though, is radish greens cooked with diced potatoes. 


Radish leaves from 2 radishes or about 2 cups of chopped radish greens

2 potatoes, peeled and diced - about 2 cups of diced potatoes (Keep them immersed in some water to prevent them from turning black - drain well before use to avoid the oil spluttering all over you! If you're a novice, pat them dry with some paper towels).

1 large onion, sliced

1 small tomato, finely chopped

4 - 6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped and half the amount of finely chopped ginger (you can also make a paste of them by grinding, if you like)

2 dry red chillies, broken into pieces (avoid or reduce if you can't take the heat)

2 tablespoons oil - whatever cooking medium you prefer. I try to choose either ghee or coconut oil, but mostly use sunflower oil, which is the cheapest.

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 or 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder (avoid or reduce if you can't take the heat)

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon coriander powder 

A pinch of hing (asafoetida) (to address the gas forming properties of potatoes)

Salt - 1 teaspoon or to taste


Wash the radish leaves well and chop them finely. Try to avoid the stem and all fibrous parts. 

Heat the oil in a saucepan; add the broken dry red chilies and, when they begin to change colour, the cumin seeds. 

While they are crackling, quickly add the diced potatoes and fry well on a medium flame, stirring frequently to avoid burning, until they look a bit crisp on the outside. 

Lower the fire and continue cooking. You can add salt before you lower the flame as, apparently, it helps hasten cooking. Keep stirring now and again to prevent burning.

When the potatoes are done (check by pricking them with a fork), sprinkle the powders and stir well to coat all the potatoes. 

Add the sliced onions and the ginger and garlic. Fry till the onions look glazed or translucent. 

Add the chopped radish greens and fry on medium heat until the greens look wilted. This might take some 10 minutes or less. 

Lastly, add the chopped tomato and keep stirring until it blends in well. 

Check for seasoning. 

Serve with hot chapatis, a dal dish and some dahi or a raita.

The leftovers can be made into a delicious toasted sandwich.

Butter two slices of bread. On one slice, put some of the leftover potato-greens, a few slices of onions and tomatoes, some chopped green chilies if you like the heat, sprinkle a dash of salt and pepper and top with a slice of cheese. Toast on a tawa or in an electric toaster.

I'd used this, a Glen toaster which I'd got free when I bought a gas stove.