There’s something very special about building No. 1 in Ward No. 1 of Kumbalam Panchayat. It’s the unmistakable aroma of mutton simmering in masala. Truly irresistible! And that unmistakable smell of mutton gravy thickening is ah! so tempting!
The Kumbalam village has so much to offer in terms of scenic beauty and delicious food. And the best that’s on offer is the puttu, mutton curry, and beef fry in Shibu’s country pad. Shibu’s puttu shop is a nondescript eatery where the food served is what its ambience is.
While there are quite a few who are put off by the smell of mutton; and yet others who shy away from anything beefy. Hotel owner A J Shibu has separate chairs for such sensitive diners. If not mutton, dine on beef; if not beef, then on mutton, is his dictum! And if neither is okay for some, then it’s chicken for such picky eaters. Shibu’s patience is amazing. He never turns anyone away. He has a solution for all his patrons and a dish for all palates. So there’s chicken curry for the curry lovers, chicken fry for those who love to break crispy bones, and beef fry for the hardy diners.
Now for the 'fishtarians', there’s spicy red cutla curry, simmering on the stove. Shibu’s special is a plate of steaming hot puttu and two pieces of the fish with the red gravy running over the puttu, blending with the rice flour and coconut.
Shibu’s outlet near the boat jetty beside the Kumbalam church is famous for its fish-puttu, mutton-puttu and beef-puttu combos. There’s nothing around to beat the flavours of these serves. As you sit drooling over what’s served, ask for a duck’s egg and there comes Shibu in all earnestness bringing you one.
There’s a decidedly delectable way of eating duck’s egg, mutton curry, and puttu. Pour the gravy over the puttu till it melts it down. Open the boiled egg and take a bite of the white before digging into the hot puttu. What a combination! Then break the yolk down with the gravy, mix it with the puttu and slurp it down. Divine!
Now for an interesting foodie titbit: Duck eggs in Kumbalam Shibu’s Puttukada are quite out of the ordinary. Their yolks are red, not yellow. Now, that’s a tiny bit of secret. What makes the yellow yolk turn red? Ducks that swim the lakes feeding to their fill on small fish, prawns and shrimps, lay eggs with red yolks. Such eggs are a delicacy in China and ducks that lay those eggs are much sought-after there. And they come with a price too. Not in Kumbalam, however, where Shibu is generous with egg whites that clothe red yolks.
So to Shibu’s den it is. All you need is to do justice to the spread served. Enjoy your time. Go for the kill. Sip a glass of kattan (black) tea or coffee before you pay the bill. Wallow in the luxury of the sea breeze. Spread the word. Shibu’s Puttukada is one swell village foodie corner.
How to reach the puttukada
Those driving from the city need to turn right immediately after the Kumbalam toll plaza and move on further up for about a km and a half till they are within sight of two churches built fact to face. To the left is the lakeside where the puttu shop stands. The shop springs to life by 7 pm and shuts down by midnight.