Place your order for chicken biryani at Keerikkadans restaurant in Panampilly Nagar, Ernakulam, and you will be in for a surprise. A plantain leaf is spread out on your table with pickle, salad and pappad and a bamboo puttu-maker is brought. Out tumbles a mouthwatering mixture of soft fluffy rice, juicy chicken pieces and fragrant masala gravy, all blended to perfection inside the puttu-maker. The restaurant, named after one of the creepiest on-screen villains in Malayalam – for no reason other than the owners’ love for twists – gives a signature Keerikkadan touch to almost everything on the menu.
Private bank employees Abhilash and Alphi Aneesh started the hotel with an aim to serve tasty and quality food at affordable rates. The long-time friends, bound by a love for food, used to check out eateries all across the state. The enterprising foodies felt there was great scope for a place that served authentic Kerala food at prices that wouldn’t burn a hole in one’s pocket.
What the fish!
The small but well-kept restaurant serves appam, idiyappam and parotta for breakfast. But past breakfast time is when the regulars start making a beeline to the hotel. The biryani in bamboo puttukutti is the hot favorite though the Kerala meals served on plantain leaf is not far behind. The hotel boasts of a seafood menu with 13-different fish delicacies on any given day.
Tilapia (tilopia/silopiya), sardine (chaala), threadfin bream (kili meen), anchovy (kozhuva), mackerel (ayala) and other popular fish varieties are prepared almost every day. If you like it fried and crispy, you can order a plate of vatta (bluefin trevally), tilapia, chaala, kili meen, kozhuva or ayala. You can also have them as the spicy Kerala fish curry laced with flavors of the tangy gambooge and the smoky earthen pot in which it is cooked. The traditional recipes are followed to a tee in dishes like ‘varutharacha’ therandi (stingray) and sravu (shark). Other chart toppers include chemmeen (prawns) and koonthal (squid) roast, beef fry and beef ularthu.
The prices of seafood delicacies vary according to the market rate of fish. If you get lucky, you could land at Keerikkadans on a day that the prices drop, which means you could gorge on the yummy fish dishes along with the Rs 50 Kerala meals. Beef ularthu and chemmeen roast come at a fixed price of Rs 80 per plate.
In line with the restaurant owners’ motto of sticking to quality and hygiene, the oil used for cooking is not re-used. Fish is bought fresh every day and is free of adulterations, say the foodie friends.
Besides food, Abhilash and Alphy share a passion for Malayalam movies. The walls of the restaurant are done up with graffiti of famous dialogs from blockbusters. Not that you could afford distractions with the lip-smacking spread on offer, but the nostalgia on the walls will make the meal at Keerikkadans all the more filling.
(Prices mentioned are of the time when the article was published)