Kochi: What if you could travel back in time to Kerala when there were no luxurious restaurants or swanky eat outs to satisfy your need for a quick bite? What if nostalgia-seekers who rue the death of naadan chayakkadas, or the local 'tea shop' as they were then known, could get a chance to make a revisit? Well, Pappadavada, a new-age banker's initiative, does just that.
The new avatar of the traditional chayakkada is now open at M G Road, near Shenoy's Junction, and has all the charm that the old chayakkadas had, of course in a modern setting. Like the tea shops that have become a relic in Kerala, Pappadavada starts selling hot tea and crispy pappadavadas to early birds from 8.30 am onwards. The not-so-early risers can of course saunter in untill 1.00 am every day and walk back refreshed with their daily dose of local food, gossips and local news. You can catch up with what is happening around you and perhaps even discuss politics or the recently-released book over a cup of tea and pappadavadas. The only thing that is not in sync with the olden chayakkadas where you had long benches to sit, spread your newspaper or even keep your half-full cup of tea, are the standing tables, perhaps a feature that mimics small eat outs in Bangalore. However, the price is pocket-friendly and it won't remind your eating sojourns in the metros, in terms of cost that is. What of course makes Pappadavada a unique food joint is its ethnic food combos and pricing.
Minu Pauline, an ex-employee of Citibank, conjured up the name Pappadavada for her proposed food joint while she was travelling in kerala. She found the name catchy and did not hesitate to promptly name her dream project with one of the most unbiquitous snack in Kerala. Minu has christened her food joint, “Pappadavada adhava oru nadan chaayakkada” or simply, Pappadavada.
If you are weary of the common fare that you get in hotels and restaurants these days, head out to Pappadavada, discard your pretensions and select from the local combos such as puttu & naadan chicken curry, kappa & meen curry, kanji & payaru, idiyappam & kadala curry, thalppakettu kozhi biryani, which is a Tamil Nadu-based biryani and the signature dish of the restaurant. There are lots more. Non-veg items will be available after noon. Prices start from Rs 4 and goes up to Rs 10 for tea/coffee & snacks and Rs 20 to Rs 55 for combo meals and Rs 75 for Thalppakettu kozhi biryani. You would also have fish combos, veg combos, chicken combos, beef combos and breakfast combos.
The restaurant has an ambience that reminds one of a bygone era since it is furnished in local Kerala style. Old South Indian movie posters adorn the walls and you can't miss a big blackboard with the menu and prices. Maybe, if you are lucky enough, you might catch someone reading the newspaper aloud for others while the radio blares old Malayalam songs in the background!
So next time you travel to Ernakulam, you know where you can time travel... and get a pappadavada!
- Elizabeth Thomas