Welcome to Kutichal to learn all about how a humble breakfast dish like puttu (steamed rice cake) can be used for making a political statement. At a small restaurant in Kutichal, about 30kms from the city, there is a political battle on - of a different kind. The chenkodi (red flag) puttu is made from beetroot. Pacha (green) puttu has green leaves and kavi (saffron) puttu has carrot in it. Trivarna (tricolour) puttu makes use of both these ingredients.
And anyone is free to talk politics in this 'puttu' shop. Besides, the puttus here speak politics in a subtle way too. There is the tricolour puttu for Congress, red flag puttu for Communists, saffron puttu for BJP and green puttu for League – each puttu thus reflects a different flag colour. 'Puttu sale in the midst of Onam' is a timeworn local adage. In the capital city though, election is the occasion for this puttu sale.
Nearly 18 herbal leaves from the Agastya forest and other ingredients have gone into the preparation of around 50 varieties of puttu in Amina Puttukada in Kutichal. The puttu is prepared not just for the consumption of party workers, says restaurant owner Zulfikar. People come from across the border to have a taste of unadulterated yet colourful puttu.
The rush begins at Amina puttukada before evening 6 o clock itself. Party cadres weary from the day's campaigning mark an early attendance. Before long the colourful puttus stacked in glass cabinets will find their way to the dining tables of the guests. Majority of people like to tackle their puttu politically. Most do not buy puttu that bears their own party's colour. The intention in every mind is certainly to finish off as many puttus of their rival parties' colours as possible. Once the puttu is savoured, time for some politics – this is the norm here. Often times the debates and explanations assume the tenor of channel discussions. As the vigour and intensity of the participants shoot up, Zulfikar pounces in like a referee. Any type of puttu will be ready at the asking, but kindly do not spoil the show by serving up an excess of political clamour, is his appeal.
Zulfikar had opened his restaurant during the Aruvikkara by election time. Earlier itself he was quite keen in his mind on serving something novel. Following this he hit upon giving a political colouring to the puttus. Amina puttukada boasts of several types of puttus in multiple colours.
Red flag puttu is made from beetroot. Green puttu has green leaves and saffron puttu has carrot in it. Tricolour puttu makes use of both these ingredients. Puttus are prepared with everyone in mind. However the enterprise is not to please politicians or canvass for them, Zulfikar hastens to add.
The tasty election puttus coloured by herbal leaves have many takers. Also under consideration is preparing puttus for religious organizations. Even though 51 types of puttu are prepared here, the green puttu of the League has the most medicinal value. Green puttu is prepared with a mix made by grinding together 18 different herbal leaves.
Zulfikar also prepares variety puttus like date puttu, mixture puttu, chicken puttu, biscuit puttu and prawn puttu. Puttus in the names of the candidates of Aruvikkara like Sabari puttu and Rasheed puttu are ready too. This time as well, the Front candidates had come to Amina puttukada to partake of the puttu delights there.