Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Thrissur@10 Restaurants

 If I stay at a hotel, I look forwards to the free breakfast but, sometimes, it's not such a memorable experience. In fact, our research on the Internet, prior to our visit, had warned us that this would be the case at Elite Hotel. Nevertheless, we had at least one breakfast and one dinner there.

The ambience is not bad at all but, somehow, Syamantak does not attract too many diners.

I chose a Poori Bhaji and I'm pretty sure I wasted more than half of it.

The South Indian Poori Bhaji can be delightful. This one was not.

My husband had a plate of idli-vada. And he, too, was not inclined to rave about it.

Both the Idli and the Vada are very popular dishes. Yet they're both very hard to make to perfection.

I noticed that some Thrissur restaurants and, in fact, many restaurants around India, tend to have a decorative placemat. This one has some activities to keep the little ones busy.

This placemat has some info about tourist places in Kerala, a food scrabble, a join the dots and a find the words game, as well.

Syamantak was dolled up for Christmas but, even then, there were few fellow diners. 

Wondering what to do for lunch, one day, I asked at a fancy place: where do I go nearby for a proper vegetarian lunch? Prasada, they said. I soon found it and the ambience is quite alright but the food is nothing special.

The oil in which the poppadom was fried was stale and the dessert and other dishes were just so so.

Luckily, there were many restaurants in the vicinity. Right across from Elite Hotel is a small eatery which seems to specialise in Puttu. 

I think it was called Akshaya Palace and you can see the Puttu making gadget in the foreground.

Besides Puttu, the place also dished out a halfway decent coffee but with the Indian Coffee House just a few yards away, I only used it off and on.

Akshaya Palace gets pretty full at times and is a fairly decent place to sit around and chat.

Another restaurant, just across the road from Elite Hotel, is Pathans. I kept reading it as one would the synonym for the word for the Pashtun people.  Until it was explained to me that it's a Kerala name!

At mealtimes it was quite crowded with many families sharing food and bonding. There was one scene, in particular, which was very memorable to me. A father was dining with his two children: a little girl and a little boy. He was really spending quality time with them, passing them choice bites from his plate, attending to an occasional fuss with as much love and care as any mother.  

The podi served with the idlis was quite nice. On the whole tasty but not the winner.

The place is quite old fashioned and, thus, cute in a quaint sort of way. Dressed up for Xmas with all the popular Chinese made decorations.

I didn't notice anyone heading into the Air Conditioned part of the restaurant.

Turning to our smartphones for help, we came up with some more places to eat at.

A very unassuming little place!

I tried to get something of interest from the manager who was amused. I wonder if he'll get to see his photo online!

We had what seems to be the regular thing to ask for in such places: a biryani and a parotta with meat fry.

I never got around to having a proper meal at my beloved Indian Coffee House but I frequently went there for coffee and, sometimes, toast and butter. However, at mealtimes, it gets really full and the service is brisk and caring.

Always quite low cost and quite tasty!

There are at least two outlets in Thrissur. One was pretty near Elite Hotel. 

The other was larger and as lively. It's elating to see so many people from all walks of life satisfying hunger, alone or with friends or family.

We also visited Ambady, going by its online reputation but, alas, they were about to close up for the day. However, to go by the chutney, this is a place for foodies to visit! 

Tucked away at the end of a small dark lane!

For some reason there is a large mirror on the wall of the school opposite the entrance to the restaurant. 

My most cherished memory of eating out in Thrissur is this place: Hotel Kudumbashree. It's a kind of women's cooperative run eatery and, apparently, has branches all over Thrissur and other places in Kerala. 

One of the fine ladies at the helm!

Last but not least come the runners-up in my book: Hotel Bharath! Always full, with brisk service and tasty fare, it's little wonder that locals flock in to feast. 

Just next door to Elite Hotel!

I even had a meal there and can safely assure you that it was value for the money (Rs. 80). But it's mostly eat and run as there's always another hungry soul waiting for you to finish.

Most meal places in Kerala have a jug of sambharam and one of rasam at each table.

We also had a breakfast or two there and even a chole dish which was fiery! Most people were going for North Indian dishes. 

People in Thrissur seem to prefer a light meal for dinner. This lot was very tasty!

And the winner is Sulaimani 168. This restaurant has to be on the Must Visit List of any traveler to Thrissur. 

A Taste of the Traditional, a Feast for the senses, an encounter with Vaikom Muhammad Basheer  

There are, of course, a great many places I have not visited and I look forwards to input from readers about places to eat at in Thrissur. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Thrissur@Roadside Eats

All over the world, roadside snacks are usually a major temptation, often offering things you won't usually find in an indoor eatery. India is huge and each region has its share of exquisite eats dished out by wayside hawkers.

This December I was in Thrissur and spotted quite a few tasty foods being sold on carts. Sadly, as I have a very delicate digestive system, I could not taste many of them but I did manage one opportunity for which I'm most grateful.

Near the KTDC Beer Parlour

 An eminent film maker took us to this stall for breakfast. The morning air was pleasant and a goodly crowd was busy stuffing their faces with the delicious fare. Most of the customers were auto rickshaw drivers. 

Appams and Vadas and Chutney and a Tapioca Curry

On our last evening in Thrissur we passed some hawkers whose carts emitted the most divine aromas. A whole lot of young men were sitting around these carts and eating dedicatedly.

Quail eggs?

The gravies look and smell heavenly!

The proud owner of such excellent food!

We often ask my husband who is from Kerala what were his favourite roadside eats in his youth. His stories make our mouths water but, alas, we did not find any pathiri to match his memory and, so, though we saw some, we did not try them.

I could just reach into the picture to grab one of those fluffy dosas!
The food you can get in the restaurants is rapidly pushing many local treats into oblivion. Tourism, also, by pandering to the homesick, threatens the delicate existence of regional cuisines. The dominant regions impose their tastes producing a plethora of butter chicken type curries. And of course the ubiquitous Indian version of Chinese food. Add to that the craving of the locals for exotic fare and you have the tragic disappearance of many local dishes.

Sometimes we bought sand roasted peanuts from such carts
Groundnuts and roasted gram sell like hot cakes and evoke nostalgia in many Indians as these are sold almost throughout the country. So are pakoras or bajjis, as they are called in the South. 

The black fruits to the right are toddy palm fruit
Strolling aimlessly, one saw and smelled many fruits. I adore a couple of varieties of the small bananas that one finds in the South: Poovan Pazham and Elakki but, since they are readily available there, a host never offers any. As luck will have it I manage to get the latter off Big Basket

I'm determined to find a way to travel with a big group of hardy travelers who won't mind taking the lion's share of way side snacks when I travel next!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

6 Teas From Demetra Beverages - The Shifu Of The Brew

Sometime last year I bought a new brand of green tea at a local specialty store. I loved the packaging and the honest taste of the brew. Remember, green tea is to be taken by steeping a pinch of leaves in some hot water for a bit and sipping. It's a meditative experience and not everyone's cup of tea.

SHIFU Green Tea Regular (100gms cartons loosely packed): "Our customers would find this product quite pleasant with a distinct aroma and taste which is generally not associated with Green Teas."


One evening, I was greatly cheered to find a gift awaiting me.


My husband and I have been married for more than thirty years: the first of our daily rituals is sharing two large mugs of tea. The gift of 6 beautiful packages of tea was superb for the anniversary of our first meeting! 

Shifu Green Tea Lemon would be wonderfully refreshing in summer, served cold. In winter, the hot brew promises warm comfort.

SHIFU Green Tea Lemon (100gms cartons loosely packed): "For customers who like tea with little tanginess of Lemon. Works really well for people who intend to shed some calories."

A tulsi tea is a must for every household: colds can strike at anytime. But the virtues of tulsi far exceed that of a simple home remedy for the sniffles!

SHIFU Green Tea Tulsi (100gms cartons loosely packed): "We consider this to be an all round health package. The merits of Tulsi or the Holy Basil along with Green Tea is something not to be questioned. It can be considered to be the traditional health beverage in every Indian Household."

Mint tea is a very stylish concept and a sure hit year round. The chilled version evokes a sultry decadence while the hot one suggests hill station indulgences.

SHIFU Green Tea Mint (10 Tea Bags): "Cools you down during summer. A soothing Health drink."

Fitness is here to stay and a Lemon flavour green tea bag would be just the dip before an early morning workout. It would equally be a blessing after a heavy Sunday brunch.

SHIFU Green Tea Lemon (10 Tea Bags): " Adds a different flavour to your daily health routine."

Just plain green tea is, frankly, my cup of tea and I like tea my way wherever I go. 

SHIFU Green Tea Regular (25 Tea Bags and 100 Tea Bags): " For people who are always on the Go! Conveniently Healthy!"

Hotel teas never quite make the cut for me and so I always carry an electric kettle when we travel. And tea bags. And milk powder and sugar cubes. 

These days I throw in a handful of Shifu Green tea regular tea bags for all the in-between teas after our obligatory morning two.