In the Malabar Mappila (Muslim) lingo, 'Thakkaram' is not just a noun that denotes the feast-like fare served to the guests. It is a whole culture that offers a royal treatment to every guest, not just the new bridegroom, who crosses the threshold of your home. Housewives whip up the fanciest spread that fills up huge dining tables. And, 'Thakkaram,' a restaurant at Ernakulam offers a lip-smacking array of exotic fare from this culinary culture of north Kerala.
'Pothirachi Cheenachattiyil Vattichathu,' 'Kozhi Veluthilli Kachiyathu,' 'Mankudukka Biryani,' 'Punnara Pathumma Kurukki Vattichathu,' 'Kizhi Kettiya Kozhi,' 'Muttamala' (Egg garland)-the very names of the dishes at this restaurant right opposite Gold Souk Grande at NH Bypass, at Vyttila sound too exotic!
'Thakkaram' had opened its doors at Thalipparambu in Kannur district a couple of years ago, offering the indigenous fare of Malabar. As its fame spread throughout Kerala, branches were opened at Thiruvananthapuram, Dubai, and Ernakulam. The Ernakulam Thakkaram was born out of the entrepreneurship of the proprietor Muhammed Shihab Ibrahim, Eettissery Shanavas, Patheyam Ramesh and Muttothi Abdullah.
The well-decked interior with walls donned by beautiful scribbles and paintings will tell you the whole story of 'Thakkaram,' which is inscribed upon the walls. Tradition and modernity combines in a balanced manner here. The menu card, sporting all those exotic names, can plunge the guests into awe-struck confusion at first, as to which item should be ordered first. All the items in the menu are available all the time. 'Thakkaram’ serves a wide range right from the very local fare to Chinese dishes.
Though the Menu is quite vast, the real aficionados would go straight for the 'Thakkaram' specials like 'Pothirachi Cheenachattiyil Kachiyathu,' or 'Kozhi Veluthulli Kachiyathu,' or 'Mankudukka Biryani,' or 'Pathummante Kozhikkari,' or 'Pathumma Kurukki Vattichathu,' or 'Kizhi Kettiya Kozhi.' 'Pothirachi Cheenachattiyil Vattichathu,' is beef prepared in the traditional cast iron wok, with thick gravy flavoured with all the local spices and onions.
Wide range of chicken dishes are available at 'Thakkaram.' The garlic-seasoned chicken, flavoured with onions and garlic, is one of the most favoured dishes. 'Kozhi Pachamulakittathu,' (Chicken with green chillies) looks like a 'Mappas,' (preparation with coconut milk), but it is actually made with a paste of really hot green chillies and pudina (mint) leaves. 'Pathummante Kozhikkari,' is another super-speciality of 'Thakkaram,' smacking of the real, rustic, local palette laced with tomatoes and potatoes.
'Punnara Pathumma Kurukki Vattichathu' is a fish item, made with fish like white pomfret (Avoli), or red snapper (chembally) or seer fish (neymeen) which are cooked whole without cutting into pieces. The fish is grilled after marinating in spice paste and later cooked into a thick a gravy. This is one of the most favoured dishes of 'Thakkaram.'