Forty foodies from Kochi got on to a bus at 3 am on an extraordinary expedition. Their destination is a house in Thalassery, where they will be treated like sons-in-law. But that is a long way. The bus stopped by a restaurant in Kozhikode for a not-so-quick refill.
Paragon Hotel's chief chef, Vijayan Pillai, personally greeted the members of 'Eat Kochi Eat' who took the trouble of a long-drive only to eat to their heart's content. It turned out to be a sumptuous breakfast, including palappam, porotta, mutton stew, mutton curry, beef roast, mean and mango curry and tender coconut payasam for dessert.
The crew resumed their journey to Thalassery. They reached just in time for lunch. Raseena's house was decorated for the mock treat. The team of foodies, however, ignored the marquee on the courtyard and charged to the kitchen, where the famed dishes of north Kerala were boiling to perfection.
The feast began an hour later. The showpiece item, unsurprisingly, was the Thalassery biryani. Though something of a cliché by now, Thalassery biryani came as authentic as it can be from Raseena's kitchen.
Next came the local delicacy, 'irachi choru,' a temptation recipe of rice and beef cooked together. It is spicier than a normal biryani. Next came 'konju thari biryani,' made of shrimps and semolina.
Another signature dish of Malabar came as 'puzhukka pathiri,' stuffed with mackerel masala.
'Alsa' is a little-known dish that resembles Hyderabad's 'haleem.' It is made by boiling wheat and chicken into a mush. 'Kunji pathiri' is a coin-sized pathiri stuffed with beef.
How can a Malabar feast be complete without 'mutta mala.' The dessert made of eggs, sugar and cardamom topped it all.
The gang was relishing the aftertaste of the feast when Raseena surprised them with the next set of offerings. Eat Kochi Eat members lived up to its reputation despite being stuffed to the nose.
They started the second innings with 'kayakritha,' chopped banana pieces fried in ghee and mixed with sugar and eggs. Then came 'lakkottappam,' chicken masala sandwiched between bread slices and fried. Carrot pola, kay pola and unnakkay also followed.
The foodies bade farewell to their host in the evening. Raseena even packed the leftover items for them. When the bus reached the Thalassery town someone had an idea. The town is famed as the birthplace of cake in India. Why not try one. They took a detour to a bakery to relish a freshly baked cake. Around 7 pm, the return trip to Kochi began.