Butter Palayam

The sweltering summer months have passed. The North-east monsoon showers have heralded the coming of the season of chilly nights, starry skies and misty mornings in the city. In short, it is chicken season.

November is also the season of Ramzan, when the faithful break their day fast with a rich evening diet replete with Malabari, Chettinadu, Arabian and Travancore meat and poultry dishes.

The hotels in the vicinity of the Palayam Juma Masjid is a sure stop for those who want to taste the flavours of the season. The North Indian restaurants and chicken corners at Palayam are bracing for the "kill''.

``The demand for meat, particularly chicken dishes, is low during the summer months. It picks up after Deepavali when the chill sets in and peaks during the Christmas-New Year season," says a hotelier in the area.

The biggest demand is for Chicken Tandoori and Tikka. The dishes are preferred by most for being low on oil and readily available hot and sizzling off the grill.

The largest demand for Tandoori and Tikka comes from families who prefer home packs. Naan and `sookha' roti which come straight out of the tandoori hearth, are part of the home pack. It contains the regulatory onion and cucumber salad.

Some hoteliers in the city say that urbanites are getting fed-up with chicken. "There is no more anything chic about chicken dishes. There is a growing liking for the tough and fattier meat of the country (nadan) chicken. Then, mutton is emerging as an all-time favourite,'' says one.

Several hotels have noticed the change in the food preferences of families when it comes to serving dining-out groups.

Some hotels are offering Chettinadu, Travancore and Malabari mutton preparations which are gaining more acceptance than broiler chicken dishes which ruled the roost for long.

The preference for fish over meat is also being slowly noticed by enterprising hoteliers who do not want to stick to the norm.

One hotel, tucked away near the Government Secretariat, is known for fish caught from the backwaters. Many make a beeline to this hotel to taste `karimeen', brackish-water prawn and crab preparations.

What has made the hotel a hit among many city-dwellers is the availability of hot and spicy duck curries which are served with steaming appam.

By Anand G.

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