Nallonnam Kazhikuka - Eat Well at Hotel Deluxe!

Today was a day of bad moods. Everyone I came across was in a bad mood. Guess that rubbed off on me too, so I packed my bag and headed out on the street. Unsure, hungry and angry for no apparent reason, I started walking towards VT. Passing the numerous booksellers, performance enhancer pill doctors who now stock dildos in all sizes and of course pirated software and porn vendors, I turned towards Pratap Lunch Home on DN Road. My on-the-way-developed mission was to find a certain Hotel Deluxe, famed to serve good malabari food. Since I was not in a hurry to find it I didn't bother asking anyone.

I simply moved past Pratap Lunch Home and many other small eateries including one bar. I reached another lane where I turned left and saw a famous fish joint, now a posh place- Mahesh Lunch Home. Walking towards it, I spotted a small lane just before Mahesh, I decided to enter and as luck would have it, Hotel Delux stood right at the end of it, welcoming me.

Hurrying up, I entered to find a completely empty place save for one guy who was intently reading his railway ticket. Probably returning to Kerala. The only waiter was Chandrahaas, whose name translates into a moonlike smile as I would find out later on. Till then he took down my order, Fish Curry with Surmai Fry(small). After waiting for a few minutes, he arrived with my order. One bowl containing sambar, other the typical curry and one big plate of puffy rice. I was disappointed because there was no surmai fried, reddish, perfectly done as I had imagined. Before I could express anything, he was gone and returned with fairly large well done Surmai slice, laid on a plantain leaf. The food in one word was delicious. I won't elaborate on the food, you got to visit to try it.

Clearly happy, I started asking him about the food. He readily explained replete with their regional names. Thats when we also spoke about his village. A hamlet near Kasargod, a border town. It's the first station that you'd encounter when you travel to Kerala. However, the best way to go there as Chandrhaas told me was to take a Volvo to Mangalore and then a super fast bus for 20 bucks. A very useful tip for people like me who are suckers for last minute plans and therefore never get confirmed train tickets. He was proactive enough to tell me that the guy sitting on the next table was being served Karela ka bhaaji-ekdum mast. Sporting a crew cut, he looked like Will Smith talking in Hindi.

I remembered the appams that I had sampled on my trip to Kerala, long ago. I asked him if he could get me one. He went in to check but the formula wasn't ready. He meant to say the batter wasn't prepared. But when I was halfway through my meal, he told me that he could get one. I readily agreed. Within a few moments, a fluffy appam landed on my table. I took a piece and dipped it in the curry, what followed was a trip to the time when I was 10 years old. Dining at an old dining table on a chilly December evening in Chengannur, Alappuzha district eating appam-stew.

Chandrahaas, the true gentlemen he was informed me of his rivals and spoke highly of them. In that area, there were 4-5 other Kerala cuisine eateries each specializing in a cuisine distinct to their native place. At Deluxe, one is served Kozhikodi style cuisine. He also recommended Pratap for its Tandoori Chicken which can rival the ones you get at Shalimar or Noor Mohammadi, Bhendi Bazaar. The masala used at Pratap is really powerful he mentioned. He also recommended the Manglorean dishes of Harish lunch home. Such candour is rare and hence I appreciated it even more. I expected the owner sitting nearby to flinch but he didn't care.

My bad mood had vanished and my tummy was full. I called for the bill. We talked about Onam and Sadhya and the famous meal that one is served on a plantain leaf in the afternoons. He told me that it's quite chaotic in the afternoon so this was probably a good time to have a leisurely meal(1930). I thanked him and left Deluxe with plenty of things to look forward to. The other mallu places, Tandoori at Pratap, bus ride to Mangalore and then exploring North Kerala. However, Deluxe was a trip in itself which I will take again.

Meal for one: Rs. 71
Hotel Deluxe,
Pitha Street, Take the first right in the Citibank lane on DN Road
22042351, 66559914,

Title courtesy: Swati Nair, thank you ma'am!


quaintkal said…
mee pan yenar, dushta praani! :D :D

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