Has food ever been on your mind while gazing at the sea from long stretches of sandy beaches? Food is as old as man. It’s a craving, a longing like all other primordial pangs; but one that’s immensely satisfying.
There’s an inexorable similarity between the ebb and flow of tides and human life. This likeness looms like a reality when one stands by the vastness of the sea. Set against an orange twilight, the sea brings an onrush of emotions. Ahead of you lies the long, beach road, stretching out to nowhere. Gazing at the sea, one goes through a gamut of feelings - loneliness, alienation, helplessness and a deep longing to hold on to something.
The Velliyil harbour is the perfect setting for recollecting emotions in tranquility. Such is the music of the sea as its sends the waves crashing on to man-made rocky boulders thrown on the beachline to keep the sea at bay from eating into the land. Those are the 'pulimuttukal.' There’s an entire stretch of pulimuttukal that walks into the sea here. And eastward lies the vast expanse of Kozhikode beach. The old bridge at the south beach is also visible from Velliyil.
A walk along the pulimuttukal brings to mind man’s helplessness against Nature’s mighty forces. It’s while on these stones that one ponders over existence…its futility, its richness. As you walk along, signs of life spring up in the form of kids squealing merrily over a ball game, people laughing, eating and merry-making and solitary walkers moving like shadows immersed in thought.
The beach sets your tummy in for a rumble and peaks to a roar as you get that unmistakable whiff of an aroma from somewhere far away. As you leave the beach and jaywalk along Gandhi road, you see that name board, oh, so very nostalgic, Mohammad Rafi Road. Just as you turn into the road, there stands a small joint, a hotel , C P Haji’s Restaurant, a no-nonsense food pad, with sensible interiors.
Close to the door stands the kitchen with flames leaping out of its country ovens and the cook making the restaurant’s trademark fluffy appams. He ladles out the batter into the 'appachatti,' gives it a solid good swirl and waits for the appam to come winking up.
The smells are too inviting. So go for the kill, bite into the appams. What’s to go with them, asks the server… beef, chicken or quail? Beef seems to be the best bargain. So be it. Appam and beef chilly.
The server appears with a steaming hot dish of beef chilly and plate of soft, white appams. The beef tastes divine. It’s a fine blend of garlic, ginger and Kashmiri chilly and served in style. Slices of lime and big onions dress up the crisp, crunchy beef.
The small joint has been gracing this spot for the past 65 years, without frill or fuss. It’s awake at 4 in the morning and goes to bed at 10 in the night. Easy on one’s purse, it has stood the test of time with its delicious serves. The insides are warm and inviting, lavish on bonhomie as good as its owner C P Sahad and chief cook, Koyilandy-native Hameed.
Sahad loves his food and his life in equal measure. Going by his antics during the just concluded FIFA world cup, life is a celebration. An out and out Argentina fan, Sahad had a huge flex set up in front of his hotel, with his cook Hameed’s beaming face atop Leo Messi’s trunk! That’s the stuff of life here, loyal and deep, as deep as the blue sea.