By Niji N.G.
Though Thiruvananthapuram is Kerala’s capital city, yet it is the least cosmopolitan of all Kerala cities. Here, people still try to cling onto their age old practices and eating out is not a common practice. But, things are changing fast in this villagesque South Indian city. With an influx of new thoughts, the citizens are eating out like never before. It is in this scenario that we did a food safari to find out the heritage eateries in Thiruvananthapuram and found out some real gems in the process.
Breakfast at Thampi’s Hotel
The hotel stands, adjacent to the temple, at Karamana Junction. It is called Thampi’s Hotel. But in reality, there is no name board on it. People flock from the morning, as they have been doing for the past 60 years of its existence. It is not exactly a vegetarian hotel. But there is no chicken or meat item served here. Traditional Kerala fish items and duck egg dishes are served. It is an excellent choice for breakfast, as all the typical Kerala breakfast varieties are available here.
Must taste: Puttu with peas curry, Idiyappam with peas curry or vegetable curry, Dosai and chutney, Idli with samabar and Appam with egg masala or vegetable stew.
Refreshments at Mani’s Lemon Juice Shop
This small wayside bunk shop, started in 1980, at Maruthankuzhi was the real surprise package in our discovery of heritage restaurants in Thiruvananthapuram. The owner of the shop, a bald-headed long-bearded man called Mani, methodically makes sparkling soda ginger lemon juice. It is spicy and refreshing. He has a special recipe for it. How did he find the recipe: “Simply by trial and error.” The shop is situated on the road to Nirmithi Kendra office from Maruthankuzhi.
Must taste: Sparkling soda ginger lemon juice
Lunch at Kochannan’s Restaurant
If you love mutton dishes, this is the place to go. Kochannan’s Restaurant at Karamana Junction, like Thampi’s Hotel, has no signboard to signify its existence. Yet it is so popular that all you need to do is ask any passerby and you will be led to this old-styled building at the junction. It was established in 1946 by the late Peer Muhammad. He was affectionately called ‘Kochannan’, which in Malayalam means “little elder brother”. As years passed by, the name stuck. The hotel serves Biryani, Meals, Pathiri, Idiyappam, Parotta and Chappathi. A quick survey among the customers revealed that mutton roast is the hot favourite.
Must taste: Mutton curry, mutton fry and mutton roast
Traditional Meal at Hotel Mubarak
Those who love the famed fish curry meals of Kerala, head straight to Hotel Mubarak at Chalai Market. It is the ultimate seafood destination in Thiruvananthapuram. Try to go there a bit early as the peak times start from 1 PM and it remains quite crowded, with people queuing up for seats. It will be open till 11.30 PM. The hotel was started in the 1960s. It is still going strong, attracting customers with its mouth-watering fare of fish dishes.
Must taste: Malayalam fish curry meals
Evening Snacks at Valiyasala Palaharakkada
This is not an eatery in the strictest sense. They only sell sweats and other eatables. There is no dining room. Palaharakkada, located near the Valiyasala temple, was founded in 1980. You can find a variety of Kerala style snacks. But the best item on offer is Boli. It can be eaten as it is, like any other snacks. But it will metamorphose into a gelly bliss of heavenly taste when milk Payasam is poured on to it and mixed.
Must taste: Boli with Payasam, Murukku, Achchappam, Aluva and Upperi
Dinner at Hotel Kerala House
If you conduct a survey of the most authentic traditional Kerala food, two items are likely to vie for the top position: Puttu (Steam cake) and Kanji (Porridge). Kerala House Hotel provides both. You can have Puttu for breakfast or Kanji for supper. The hotel is located right at the Statue Junction, near DC Books. Established in 1980, it serves almost all kinds of vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. We recommend the hot Kanji, best taken with pappad and brined beans nut, which is available from 7 PM onwards.
Must taste: Kanji with brined beans nut, Puttu
Are you ready for a food adventure in Thiruvananthapuram?