By the time the Maghrib prayers at Masjid Noor are over, the air in Kaduvamuzhi, Erattupetta, gets filled with the tempting fragrance of freshly made snacks. These stacked up snacks in a small tea-shop on the shores of Meenachil River will vanish in no time, paying off a reputation that has been maintained for over 60 years.
Kaniyannante Chayakkada, the tea shop located in Kaduvamuzhi, the entrance to Erattupetta town, is unique for many reasons. Unlike your average snack shops that offer the more popular vada and samosa, Kaniyannante Chayakkada serves a trademark snack, called the 'Vadi', which has its very origin in the shop.
Vadi, a maida based snack made at the shop, is a unique snack that you will not find anywhere else other than Erattupetta and its surrounding areas. The recipe was developed by Hassan Kani Pandarapparambil, also known as Kaniyannan, around 20 years ago. Later some other bakeries and eateries in the surrounding areas started imitating it, though, none of them tasted the same. After two decades, “Kaniyannate Vadi” remains a favorite for all.
Hassan Kani started the tea-shop in 1955 when he was barely 20-years-old. He then bought a shelf worth Rs. 100, two benches and a rented a small room in a newly built commercial building at Kaduvamuzhi junction. Nothing much has changed in the shop even after 6 decades, except the hands that make Vadi. Kani, who is 81 now, hardly goes to the shop due to old age ailments. Yet his memories are still afresh.
“When I started the shop, I sold only snacks made of rice including freshly made Appams. During that time, for Rs. 1, you could get 32 Appams. Gradually I started making popular snacks like Uzhunnuvada and Parippuvada. But they were all too common. I wanted something special. It is then that the idea of making an easy maida-snack hit me. During the early years, Vadi was sold at a rate of 3 paisas per one. It was an instant hit,” Kani recalls.
Vadi got its huge fanbase only through word of mouth publicity. The shop, which is not even on the roadside, has been swarming with customers ever since. “All the items in our shop costs only Rs. 5 a piece. Yet, we don't press on our customers to pay the amount always. We let them pay what they can. We do not have a proper billing system and customers place the money on the table when they are done,” he said.
He was honored by PC. George MLA two years ago and bestowed with an award by the Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samithi (KVVES) Kani claims that his is the oldest shop in the area. The place did not have a board and got named after Kani, or Kaniyannan as he is fondly called, through mouth publicity. When his sons took over the shop, they kept the same name for the shop, “Kaniyannan's Tea-shop.”
Kani was against employing workers at the shop claiming they will not be able to understand the true spirit. Instead, the shop has been looked after by his family all along. The shop is currently run by Kani's youngest son Faizal and eldest grandson Ramees. The shop opens at around 2 pm and close at 8 pm from Monday to Saturday.