Masala Square Cafe and Restaurant is a treasure trove for taste connoisseurs. Presenting a culinary treat, the restaurant is one family's marvelous gift to food lovers. Shareer Ibrahim, Hussein, Nawaz and Shameena Umar are the people who made this restaurant happen. They believe that food is an integral part of the culture of a land and at Masala Square Cafe, they dish it up with elan.
With restaurant manager Jacob Joseph joining up, things took a different turn. They tried to bring diversity to the restaurant which is designed for lakeside dining, and sought out variety and novelty in cuisine to be included in the expanding menu.
An artwork called the Kollam Tree - which brings out the speciality of the district welcomes guests. The branches stand for abundance. Chinese fishing nets, cashew nuts, light house, railway and coconuts are etched into it. An artwork of kitchen artifacts ranging from plantain leaf, earthen pots and wineglass to Chinese jars also adorns the outer wall of the restaurant.
Now, let's explore the restaurant that serves up nearly 300 varieties from Arabian specialties to multinational dishes. The biriyani here takes on a different flavour due to 'kuzhimanthi' – a four-and-a-half feet pit where the food is cooked over a slow flame. Here's how it works: A huge vessel with rice is placed inside the pit, then comes the meat, and the lid is closed. After a while, the meat is removed and its pieces are mixed with the rice before its served.
Diverse items like kabsa, tandoori, grilled, barbecue, dum biriyani, khuboos and sushi vie with sizzlers and multinational dishes like Chinese, Mexican and Brazilian make dining at Masala Square a sumptuous affair.
Mini-Majlis for Arabian style dining
Masala Square offers a Majilis experiance. You can enjoy a meal seated on a carpet on the floor and lean back on pillows.
Thali meals at Rs 100
Thali meals - consisting of around 12 curries, Neymeen (kingfish) curry and payasam - is another highlight here. The North Indian dishes are courtesy the cookery experts known as Bhandaris.
Mini Banquet Hall
Another marvel in store at Masala Square is the Mini Banquet Hall that provides for a group of 30-40 people to joyfully enjoy a community eating out experience. Small birthday parties and promotion parties can be celebrated in private in this Mini Banquet Hall.
The surprises at Square D Cafe
The highlight of the Square D Cafe is a spread consisting of 43 types of coffee and 25 types of tea. They specialise in Art Coffee. Leaders of various political parties who had been to the restaurant were surprised to see their respective parties' symbols as artwork in their coffees. CPM leader Shri M.A. Baby for instance was treated to a coffee with the artwork of sickle, hammer and star, while it was lotus for a BJP leader.
Jijith E. Nair, the Barista in charge of Square D Cafe, delights the guests with his coffee cup surprises. Images associated with the institutions represented by senior people find place in the coffee cups when they come to dine. Or else flowers or heart shape or anything can be expected in the coffee cups. They have cute cartoons for kids too.
A baby elephant with its trunk extended and an eagle brim the cups as art work remindful of 3D pictures. The most number of experiments are reserved for kids. Their favorite characters like Mickey Mouse, Spiderman, Mermaid and Kitten always smile at them from the coffee cups here.
The Facebook page of Masala Square is lively with coffee artwork reflecting opinions, support and protest over socially relevant topics.
The pastry tidings are even sweeter than the variety in coffee. Fresh cream cakes, pastry cakes and photo-printed cakes sweeten up this coffee shop. The mouthwatering pastries and cakes are the handiwork of pastry chef Jackson Raju. Masala Square bakery is the first of its kind in Kollam to offer photo-printed cake. D Cafe's specialty dishes are customised design theme cake, mocktail and ice cream sizzler.
Team Masala Square plans to start a restaurant in the beach facing the sea and the lake. The restaurant coming up in 6,000 square feet will start functioning from February.
Spreading the noble message of sharing
The owners had installed a chiller even before the restaurant started operating. The idea is to enable donation of a share of the restaurant food and a share of the food from events like marriage function for those wanting to do so to be deposited in it.
The next step is to enable usage of the chiller food by the needy in a convenient public place in Kollam. The Masala Square owners are awaiting approval from the authorities to make this a reality.
Masala Square Cafe is located opposite the Kollam Transport bus stand. The restaurant stands out not just for its ambiance but also for the marvels conjured up in its kitchen.
Masala Square Cafe and Restaurant started functioning in Kollam on 12 November 2015.