In Kannur, there are a number of restaurants that serve meals at cost effective rates ranging between Rs. 30 and 35. The natives of Kannur, who do not forgo fish or meat even during Onam or Vishu season, are very fond of such restaurants.
One of the highlights of these restaurants is that they serve fish items at an affordable cost. This time, let us get to know Hotel Shylaja, which has been serving mouth-watering fish preparations for more than half a century.
Hotel Shylaja is situated near Chonadam at Koothuparabu road, four kilometers from Thalasserry. As you enter into the hotel, you will be welcomed by a woman sitting in the cash counter, clad in a white sari. She is Lakshmi amma, the supreme chef of the hotel. No curry is served on the tables without been blessed by her magical touch. Although she is 78, she enters the kitchen early in the morning and prepares all curries before occupying her seat in the cash counter.
The beginning of the restaurant is dated back to 1951, and it was started by Lakshmi amma’s husband Thacholi Govindan. For more than five decades, this hotel has been an integral part of the residents of Thalasserry, serving them delectable varieties of food. Firewood is used here for cooking, which adds a unique taste and quality to the food.
Lakshmi Amma has nine children - six sons and three daughters. Cooking is the monopoly of her family members. Her daughter Shyja, her sons, Preman and Pramod, Preman's wife Chandrika help Lakshmi Amma in preparing food. The laborers who do not belong to her family are assigned with serving and other chores.
It is Preman who brings the tantalizing tray arrayed with mouth-watering fish items. When asked about the menu, Preman enumerates the names of the fish items in a unique style, which irresistibly appeal to our senses.
Food is served at Hotel Shylaja from 11 am to 4 pm. People throng here in large numbers all these hours, declaring how they love to dine here. King fish, pomfret, shrimp, squid, kallumma kaya, kakka, mackerel, sardine, rayfish, catfish, beef, chicken and organs of the chicken are the ‘super hit’ dishes.
Pointing to the large platters in which numerous fried fish were arrayed, Preman commented: “All these platters will be empty by 4 pm”. I had no surprise. Because, I have tasted and known the magic of Hotel Shylaja. This is a favorite food destination of commoners, as every items served here is pocket friendly.
The hotel functions till 7.15 pm and the list of its evening snacks include porotta, puttu, kappa and chapatti.