A visit to Kannur is incomplete without a meal at Onakkan Bharathi

A visit to Kannur is incomplete without a meal at Onakkan Bharathi
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There is no separate menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner at Onakkan Bharathi. This no frills – budget-friendly eatery has, for the past 75 years thrown its doors open at 6 in the morning and served the same dishes until their closing time at 8.30pm. 

A visit to Kannur is incomplete without a meal at Onakkan Bharathi
A visit to Kannur is incomplete without a meal at Onakkan Bharathi. Photo: Onmanorama

Onakkan Bharati serves the yummy Kerala staple of 'puttu' – the steamed rice cake – along with a selection of curries. But the crowd puller here is the 'puttu' and mutton curry combo. And it was the fame of  this combination that got me started on a quest for Onakkan Bharathi.

A visit to Kannur is incomplete without a meal at Onakkan Bharathi
From the kitchen at Onakkan Bharathi. Photo: Indu P R

The menu here is very simple and basic. You can order puttu, kappa (tapioca) aval (beaten rice) idly, appam and upma. And select from mutton, green gram, chickpea curries to go with it. If you prefer banana and pappad, that is available too. The 'varutharacha' mutton curry (made with fried coconut) is the star attraction here. And another unique dish is 'aval' (beaten rice) with green gram or chickpea curry. I have not seen aval eaten with curry anywhere else so far. 

A visit to Kannur is incomplete without a meal at Onakkan Bharathi
From Onakkan Bharathi. Photo: Indu P R

For the past couple of decades, nothing much has changed at Onakkan Bharathi. There are old benches and desks and the food is served on ceramic plates. And if you venture beyond the eatery to the kitchen you can see that the puttu is made in bamboo and not a metal kitchenware. 

A visit to Kannur is incomplete without a meal at Onakkan Bharathi
The curry. Photo: Indu P R

The restaurant was started by a person called Onakkan about 75 years ago. Even though he called the place Bharathi, it is known as Onakkan Bharathi. The restaurant is being run by Sumesh, who belongs to the family

Onakkan Bharathi does not require a signboard. It is a place etched into the psyche of people born and brought up in Kannur. 

A visit to Kannur is incomplete without a meal at Onakkan Bharathi
Men at work. Photo: Indu P R

Reaching Onakkan Bharati

A stroll through the M A Road, opposite the Railway Station, will take you to Onakkan Bharathi. Ask any tuk-tuk wala to take you there, and you will be safely deposited in front of the restaurant. If in doubt, just ask anyone passing by. 

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