The answer, I would say is an emphatic yes. And it will change the way you look at the word 'toddy shop' forever. That is if you have grown up in Kerala and is familiar with the stigma associated with the tag 'toddy shop', however, big the establishment might be.
Kumarakom Toddy Parlour and Restaurant, however, does not belong to this category. It has been given a 'model toddy parlour' status by the government and they display it proudly in front of the shop. We reached the place late in the evening. The smell of fried fish wafted through the air, welcoming us. There is a live counter, where they make rotis and just beyond are a row of huts where food is served.
These huts, as you can see, offer complete privacy. You hardly see who is there in the next hut. There is a small notice board in front of each of the huts which read ‘please do not discuss politics or sing here, lest it creates trouble for others’. And into one of these huts we entered. The waiter arrived soon after we were seated. We decided to go with appam and chappathi for the main course. ‘Duck roast, beef fry, and fish are our specialties, what you would like to order’, he asked. We just could not decide. How could we say no to any of it? And oh how could we miss the prawns roast and Karimeen Pollichathu (pearlspot cooked in plantain leaf) which we had seen on the menu? It was a tough choice.
Finally, we settled for Appam, duck roast, prawns roast and Karimeen pollichathu. The appam, when it arrived was soft, fluffy and so tasty. The duck roast and the prawns were a bit spicy, but then, that is the way it is cooked at a ‘toddy shop’. But what really had us asking for more was the Karimeen Pollichathu. It was just finger-licking good. I have had this dish, which is basically a delicacy of this region at many restaurants, but at Kumarakom Toddy Parlour, it was just perfect.
'Lunch time is the busiest', says our waiter. 'And on Sunday we do not serve meals because it gets way too hectic.'
A meal at Kumarakom Toddy Parlour was an indulgence for us and hence, slightly expensive. And there were no desserts the day we went, which was the only disappointment we had as we walked away
Disclaimer: Alcohol, mainly toddy which is fresh is served here.
Where? Kumarakom, Kottayam