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Last Updated Saturday January 21 2017 10:54 PM IST

Reliving North Kerala in Kottayam

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A.M. Bakers Shawarma roll served at A.M. Bakers in Kottayam. Photo: Shalini Nair

Shawarma — the Levantine Arab meat preparation — is nothing new to Kerala whose ties with the Middle East go back to the times when people from this small strip of land started venturing into the seas. Arabian food always fills me with nostalgia of my school days in the Malabar region, a place which has long colonized Malayali's taste buds with varieties of Arabic foods.

During an evening stroll through Kottayam town, which is known for its unique pinch of Syrian Christian style in common Kerala recipes, I bumped into a shawarma machine and bundles of memories. A man was busy slicing the chicken stacked on the pole of the machine that rolled in front of gas broiler and preparing the wrap—there was no way I was walking beyond this point without enjoying the memory.

We (My friend and I) stepped into AM Bakers at the Baker Junction, to find a variety of goodies arranged on the racks on the wall behind the counter that almost touched the ceiling, just as you could find in any MRA Bakery branch in the Malabar.

We sat down in seats arranged adjacent to a wall covered with a large mirror with a menu card attached to it. It read out all the names of the juices, milkshakes and snacks they had to offer with a picture for every item. I ordered a shawarma and a Saudi milkshake, whereas my friend ordered a Bengali Samosa and a cashew lime juice.

The shawarma roll — stuffed with chicken pieces that were just tightly cooked in its own juice and intensely flavoured using the garlic paste sauce — was served with pieces of pickled carrot and chillies.

A.M. Bakers The shawarma roll — stuffed with chicken pieces that were just tightly cooked in its own juice and intensely flavoured using the garlic paste sauce — was served with pieces of pickled carrot and chillies. Photo: Shalini Nair

This shop is the place to head to if you crave for toothsome evening snacks. No less wonderful are their Malabari treat, as they also serve packed Thalassery Biriyani. AM Bakers, that has been running for 14 years now, has a branch in Kanjikuzhy also, and all the snacks and biriyani are cooked in their own bakehouse.

The shop is open all through the week from morning, but they serve shawarma only after 4 pm.

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