Foodie Manju recalls the tasty trails of Ooty and Kochi

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Actress Manju Sunichen came to the limelight through the TV show 'Veruthe Alla Bharya' on Mazhavil Manorama channel. But she became a favourite of the audience thanks to the 'Marimaayam' satire series. Now Manju is busy with her roles in TV serials as well as films and has been praised for her acting talents. She has a special ability to present situations in a humorous way.

Along with acting, Manju loves travelling too. "All my journeys are with relatives and friends. Though I love travelling, finding time for it is an onerous task as I have a tight shooting schedule. Still, I squeeze in trips in between my work," she explains.

Ooty trip

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Manju's most recent excursion was to Ooty along with two friends. "This a different experience, being an all-woman affair," Manju reveals.

It was a relaxed journey and Manju had sought permission from her husband before-hand. "We could learn a lot of new things during the trip. Though I had visited Ooty on several occasions earlier, this ladies-only trip presented special situations before us," she adds.

Ooty enchants all visitors thanks to the mist-covered hills and green landscape. "We went to all the major tourist spots in the area and even toured the tribal hamlets," elaborates the actress.

"When we saw the tribal folk, we could not resist approaching them and enquiring about their well-being. But they responded in a peculiar manner. We did not follow their language, but soon realized that they were scolding us," recalls Manju.

The tribal women folk of Ooty presented a curious as well as pretty sight with large nose rings, big necklaces and traditional costumes, she adds.

When Manju offered them chocolates, the tribal women became friendly. The actress and her friends enquired about the life of the tribal folk and became aware of many things. “The tribal people venture into the forest every day to collect firewood, fruits and tubers. They will also carry a basket to net fish. It was a very informative encounter,” according to the star.

"All in all it was a wonderful trip," says Manju.

Manju's favourite place, Kochi

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I Kerala, Manju loves to spend time at Fort Kochi, Mattancherry and nearby areas. "History and culture remain frozen at many spots in these places, especially the Jew Street. Tradition passed down several generations is intact in the synagogue and the antique shops around it," explains the actress.

The synagogue is the main attraction in Fort Kochi. An entire day can be spent here and at the beach studded with Chinese fishing nets. The view of the sunset from the beach is amazing, says Manju.

Eating out in Kochi

However, the actress prefers to venture out only in the evening. "The traffic gets thin and everything will be quiet in Kochi. We almost always dine out at night as there are several hotels as well as roadside eateries where lip-smacking dishes are served at affordable prices," points out Manju.

Among Manju's favourite food outlets is a wayside shack near Grand Mall at Edappally. "The dishes here are really cheap. 'Maniputtu,' 'idiyappam' and 'irachi mix potti' for five-six persons won't cost more than Rs 500. We go there often," she reveals.

'Kulukki sorbet'

The TV and film star’s another regular spot in Kochi is a small shop near High Court managed by some North Indians selling sweet juice and ‘kulukki sorbet’ rich in milk. "This place is always crowded even up to 1 am and loud music and other activities keep the place lively," says Manju.

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'Puttu' shop at Kumbalam

Kerala's traditional steamed dish 'puttu' along with beef gravy is yet another favourite of Manju. She often visits a low-profile outlet at Kadavidam near Kumbalam to relish the dishes. The highlight of the place is combo of puttu, beef and duck egg, reveals the actress.

"It is so tasty that one is tempted to visit the place again and again. An old-fashioned place with a 60 W-bulb providing the only illumination, steaming hot beef curry is served along with the puttu here. Patrons have no complaints about waiting to relish the items. Moreover, the place is managed by a single person, who does everything from serving to cleaning to collecting the money," explains Manju.

Curries from toddy shops

'Shappu Curry' in Ernakulam city caused a stir serving finest rice and fish curry. The restaurant serves everything that a toddy shop offers, except toddy and pork. Incidentally, a majority of the customers are women. "They say they can't create the authentic 'toddy shop' taste at home, howsoever they tried. The lure of the fish and duck curries is irresistible. Fresh fish is used for the preparations, adding to the flavour. Dishes like karimeen (pearl spot) pollichathu, karimeen mapas, prawn items, fish peera, dich roast, duck mapas, tapioca and podimeen fry are available,” elaborates the star.

The lunch hours at Shappu Curry are form 12 noon to 2 pm. "Having a meal at the restaurant, built of bamboo, is a different experience. However, one cannot enjoy the food owing to the heavy rush. Still, it is worth a visit," feels Manju.

The actress says that she is now keenly looking forward to more foodie travels.

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