Journeying further into the God’s own country, we reached Kannur and Thalassery.
In Kannur, even though we could not visit a lot of different places, we had our hearts’ fill at Hotel Odhens on Odhens street, known for its fried sea food delicacies.
The peculiar restaurant opens only for lunch between 12 noon and 3 pm. The mad rush of people standing next to the tables speaks quite well of the popularity of the place. We ordered a fish curry meal that was served on a banana leaf, and tried fried squid, fried prawns and fried mussels known as kallumakkai or ‘fruit on the rock’ in Malabar. Kanji vellam or rice water is the drink served with meal.
The last city of our 9 day food sojourn in Kerala was the biryani capital of Malabar- Thalassery. Thalassery is synonymous with Biryani. The city is easily accessible by local buses and trains from Kannur and all the food joints can be covered in a few hours. The two iconic restaurants here are Paris Hotel- not to be confused with France and Rara Avis. Rara Avis is near the New bus stand, AVK Nair road and Paris Hotel is in an old heritage building at Logan’s road. Interestingly, the building used to be Kerala’s first printing press. Both of them are known for the Thalassery style Biryani. There are two styles of cooking biryani in India- Pakki and Kachi. The Kachi Biryani is of Hyderabad – they call it Kacche Ghosht ki Biryani where meat and rice are cooked together. In Pakki style, both the main ingredients are cooked separately, meat and rice are layered and put on dum. This can be called dum biryani as well. In Thalassery the Biryani is Pakki Dum style Biryani.
Coming to the quality of rice, most of the North Indian states use basmati for making biryani. However, in Thalassery they use Jeerakasala rice. The rice is small grained and full of aroma. The Biryani is devoid of colours. The accompaniments are onion Raita and pickles. There is no concept of salan in Malabar, as the biryani can be relished in its own flavours itself.
We tried the biryani at Rara Avis. It was simply delicious. The flavours of the rice were excellent. We also tried the rice pooris called Ney pathiri, served with a small portion of chicken curry..
Our last stop was the newly opened restaurant, Sea Park Views with Ari Orotti and chicken stew tingling our taste buds and leaving us with dreams of visiting again, and experiencing this, and much more, over and over again!