Foodies throng the Guru Dhaba at Chirangara even in the wee hours to taste their signature roti and tandoori chicken. Twenty years ago, when the eatery was opened, it was called Raja. Sharmaji, their chief cook who could create magic with spices and flavour, had become a beloved member of the family. He came all the way from Kashmir and enriched the dhaba with his unique cooking style and rare blend of spices. Many from the naval base in Kochi came looking for Sharmaji to try out his famous rotis, parathas, and other spicy dishes.
Sharmaji, who treated Thrissur with his delicious dishes, passed away five years ago. However, he bid adieu to this world only after passing on his secret recipes and exotic spice blends to the family which runs the dhaba. The owners of the dhaba, as a tribute to their culinary teacher Sharmaji, changed the eatery's name to 'Guru' Dhaba meaning teacher's. The memories of Sharmaji continue to live not only through the name of the eatery but also through the mouthwatering dishes that are served here.
Chicken is the only non-vegetarian item that is served here. However, one can enjoy chicken in different forms and flavours. The authentic Panjabi tandoor dishes are the super stars at the Guru Dhaba. The chicken sits in the special tandoor marinade for at least 3 hours. The tandoor oven is lit only when the cook certifies that the chicken is well marinated. Sometimes, the customers might get impatient, waiting to taste the delicious tandoori dishes. However the owner of the dhaba, MM Gireesan, does not budge a bit from what has been taught by his teacher. It is the unique tandoori masala which has earned great reputation for the food at Guru Dhaba.
From the naval base to the various north Indian lorries, the dishes from this dhaba had enthralled foodies. Many lorry drivers who drive all the way from the north Indian states say that the curries served at Guru dhaba remind them of their homes. There are 6 varieties of dishes in the chicken tandoori. Tomato chicken, yogurt chicken, pepper chicken, palak chicken, and garlic chicken are some of their specialities. There are many takers for their special egg keema (mince) as well.
The loyal customers vouch for the unique taste of the chicken 65. The sourness from the yogurt perfectly cuts through the spicy gravy, making it incredibly delicious. Most of the cooks at the Guru Dhaba hail from the north Indian states. Many of them have been working here for the last 20 years. These chefs clearly understand the palettes of the regulars and cook them smashing dishes. As the eatery is a typical dhaba, the dishes and curries are often spicy with a good hit of heat. Those who need it less spicy can tell their preferences in advance. The rotis and the curries are made on order, that too, in the open kitchen right next to you.
The Guru Dhaba was featured in the Hindi movie Karwan starring Malayali heartthrob Dulquer Salman. The crew shot for two days here and Dulquer was particularly impressed by the delicious dishes that were served. Late actor Kalabhavan Mani, too, frequented this eatery to enjoy the delicacies. Guru Dhaba had hosted many celebrities including musician Balabhaskar, who lost his life in an accident last year.
The dhaba which opens at 11 am and closes only at 2.30 am, is owned by Gireeshan and lies close to the Kurisupally in the Thrissur-Kochi route near the Chirangara junction. There are many other dhabas functioning on this route with the name Guru.
The rice dishes are cooked without adding any artificial flavourings. The special egg rice is the favourite of the students of nearby colleges.
The college students love to hang out at the dhaba, having fun, and sharing good food. The reasonable prices are a major factor which attracts them to this place. However, Gireeshan would give the students special consideration as he too had gone through a time when he didn’t have much money. Besides, he believes that more than just flavours, food is all about happiness and joy. His mother Vishalakshi Rajan mans the counter while his wife Sreeja manages the household. These women truly are the biggest source of support for Gireeshan.
Gireeshan says that he wouldn't have achieved what he has now, had Sharmaji not been there. It was Gireeshan who took care of him like a son. This dhaba not only celebrates great food but also the love that a disciple nurtures for his 'guru.'