Nadan flavours still rule the taste buds of the citizens of Thiruvananthapuram
The people of the city are foodies, plain and simple. There is a food revolution, as restaurants add more to their menu. Idlis, dosas and vadas share space on the same platter with noodles, sandwiches and pastas.
From fast food joints introducing customers to juicy burgers and cheesy pizzas, to restaurants introducing world cuisine through their menu, the city is now a gourmet’s heaven.
But, while the flavours of the world may be served in a platter for diners, what caters to the taste buds of diners at the end of the day, is ethnic delights. Termed ‘nadan’, unsophisticated as it may sound, the word does invoke images of home, family, food… So, no matter what name you call it, nadan, traditional, thani nadan…no buffet in town or menu seems complete without these ethnic delicacies.
And although the buffet may have a choice of salads, soups, noodles, pasta and the like, what you will see most customers pile up on their plate is kappa and meen curry or appam and chicken stew. And the dishes served are not from a particular region alone. There is a curious mix of the flavoursome Thalassery biriyani from Kozhikode, lacy palappams from Kottayam, spicy karimeen polichattu from Kuttanad… One can taste the rich and diverse cuisines of Kerala without leaving the city.
For those who want a humble fair, some restaurants even serve kanji and payaru. Noting that customers enjoy a twist to their daily palate, restaurants have tweaked some recipes to cater to a new generation of diners. The dosa, for instance, comes in various avatars with pizza-like toppings, puttu, now comes with a stuffing of fish, carrots and even chocolate…
But it is not just restaurants that have the tastes of the customers in mind. The ubiquitous thattu kadas are still doing brisk business with its tea and kadis in the day time and sizzling dosas and spicy chutneys in the evening, as do mobile eateries with its mish mash of ethnic eats. A hot favourite is parotta and masala fried chicken. In fact, some roadside eateries serve this combo for breakfast too. And judging by the crowd wolfing them down, no one is counting the calories. So, it looks like although chilli chicken, gobi Manchurian, pasta Carbonara and the like may feature on the menu, at the end of the day, good old pazham pori and metre ‘chaya’ (tea) will score over hot dogs and ice cream sodas.