Kerala Hotel at Akkulam has delectable rustic treats with some surprises, all at reasonable prices
Vehicles whizz past on the NH bypass near Akkulam bridge in Thiruvananthapuram. If you follow your nose while on the service road that goes to Akkulam, you will reach Kerala Hotel, a small space with a thatched roof, opposite an upcoming mall. The aroma of spicy meat dishes lingers in the air. It is packed to the rafters and banana leaves are wiped clean by hungry gourmets.
In a corner seat, there is someone biting into a juicy Kerala Burger. Yes, Kerala Burger! It is one of the several innovations of Manoj Manoharan who runs Kerala Hotel. Since opening a year ago, the restaurant has been trending on Facebook and other social media on account of its delicious non-vegetarian treats as well as their improvised eats like the Kerala burger, porotta lappo and Kerala pizza.
“I experiment a lot and, fortunately, most of them have worked with the customers. For instance, Kerala burgers have become a favourite,”says Manoj.
The feast kickstarts with Kerala burgers and pothu kizhi. While the steaming burger arrives on a piece of banana leaf, kizhi comes in a bundled banana leaf. The burger with capsicum-flavoured beef roast filler in two coin porottas is a little hard to hold but is a heavenly bite. Warm spicy beef gels well with fluffy porotta. Kizhi, although it is similar in looks to the burger, has two layers of beef — one a bit juicy and the other dry — and tastes more local.
The burger, roll and kizhi, Manoj says, were inspired by street food memories of his childhood.“We used to buy porotta and spicy beef from thattukadas at festival grounds. The sellers used to pack them together in a bundle and by the time it reached home, it would be like meat rolls that we have today and it was delicious,” he remembers.
Next up on our wishlist is KH 6 pack chicken (a whole fried chicken). But Manoj informs us that we are late and the last one was served a few minutes ago. Not to be discouraged, we go for ‘chicken 85’ and chappathi. Chicken pieces fried, some a little too much, is garnished with caramelised onion and is a treat to be had with the chappathi.
A glass of fruit sarbath full of banana and apple with poppy seeds for flavour tops off the evening.
What’s for lunch
A traditional Kerala meal and kizhi biriyani are the only two options for lunch at Kerala Hotel. Boiled rice served in clean plantain leaves along with avial, coconut chutney, mango pickle, salted and fried chilli and red spinach thoran, is a mini-sadhya in itself. Dal and fish curry are in plenty. We have a bit of both. Fish fries of various kind arrive on a large platter. For us, it is a mackerel and a plate of squid fry. While the squid is soft and ginger flavoured, the mackerel has been fried dry to an irresistible crunch. A plate of beef varatiyathu follows. Cooked exquisitely with thick garlic-onion gravy, it goes wonderfully with dal- drenched rice. It might go even better with porotta or chappathi.
Manoj offers different discounts at the hotel. On Mondays he gives 5% discount on the bill for Kerala Hotel Facebook group members, now 7,800 strong and counting. Likewise, bachelors and women get similar discounts on Tuesdays and Wednesdays respectively. Ex-servicemen, senior citizens and all differently abled customers can avail themselves of a 10% discount on any day from the Kerala Hotel. The list of discounts doesn’t end there as there are other offers like special combo meal for students and free food for children below eight on all the days.
* A wholesome meal for two, which does not include whole fried chicken, would cost around Rs 250.
* Pothu kizhi, KH six pack chicken and fish delicacies are among the must haves.
* Kerala hotel is open Monday to Saturday from 12 pm to 10.30 pm.
Article Courtesy: The Hindu