Haripad: Gopakumar Varma (65) of the Ananthapuram palace in Haripad is thrilled to introduce the unique flavours of the erstwhile royal families of Kerala. He mostly prepares interesting dishes that are made using mangoes. He began his career in culinary art, in 1993, by preparing special pickles using the mangoes from the palace orchard. He served those delicious pickles to those who lived in the palace then.
Gopakumar began making his masterpiece pickle in large quantities when his pickles began to gain demand. However, in those days, his customers were mostly people who were related to the palace. It was only later that the news about the special pickles of Ananthapuram palace reached beyond the palace walls. Stuffed kannimanga, stuffed lemon, mangavada, spicy mango, Ayyangar chutney, avakka pickle, lime in lime, mangathira, tomato thokku, varakku vazhakka and udyana hari are some of the unique pickles and dishes that are prepared by Gopakumar.
Gopakumar prepares around 12 special items using mangoes. The centuries-old recipes have been handed down from the Ayyangars of the palace, over the generations. These recipes, when combined with Gopakumar’s passion for cooking that he had inherited from his mother Ahalya Raja, turn into deliciousness in bottles.
Gopakumar says that many descendants of the royals, who lead a silent life inside the palaces, know unique recipes and cooking techniques that are unknown to the outside world. He has learned many such techniques and recipes from those people. Gopakumar’s nieces Sarita Varma and Jalaja help him run his business.