A winding road that cuts through mist and rain takes travellers to Kuttikkanam, a hill station in Idukki district. Here, the rain never keeps away and nature is always alluring. Still, we make a trip there to taste a special ice cream! Ice cream is available everywhere, but tasting a hot ice cream in a cool place surrounded by mist, is a unique experience. This makes the long trip worthwhile, especially for townsfolk from places like Kochi and Kottayam.
The destination of hot ice-cream seekers is Open Kitchen Barbeque at Kuttikkanam. Its exact location is on the right side of the road before Kuttikkanam town. Foodies keen to taste hot barbecue in the cool weather can also hop in at this restaurant. If the rain takes a break, patrons can settle on the table under an avocado tree outside.
Order a sizzling brownie. It arrives with hot chocolate syrup poured over fine home-made brownie and ice cream. A large number of ice-cream lovers reach here to taste this delicacy which is a combination of hot, cold and sweet experiences.
Another popular item at the restaurant is chicken kathi roll. Vinu and his friends reached Kuttikkanam all the way from Kanjirappally on their bikes to taste this item.
However, the signature dishes of the restaurant are Mexican beef with timba rice. Mexican beef is a foreign variety of the beef dishes which are favourites among Keralites. Timba rice is a combination of rice and chicken, tasting Chinese as well as Indian. Both of them have many takers, says Jithu James, the owner of Open Kitchen Barbeque.
In timba rice, the chicken is prepared by mixing special masalas and sauces. It is the favourite of guests arriving in family groups. Food lovers wishing to enjoy barbecue chicken while surrounded by mist also head to the restaurant. If they require, the chicken is grilled on their table and served really hot.
The surroundings of the restaurant and the fine food fill the hearts as well as the stomachs of the travellers. While returning, the light showers and the clouds make the trip truly worthwhile.
The route to Kuttikkanam
Travellers to Kuttikkanam start enjoying the trip from Peruvanthanam after covering Kanjirappally, Mundakayam, Podimattom and Chotty. From here on, the AC of the car can be switched off and the windows opened. The cold seeps in, filling the vehicle. The road that winds through the hills presents a true picture of Idukki. Huge trees overhang the path.
An alert traveller will notice the symphony of kadumuzhakki (greater racket-tailed drongo), which is the ‘mimicry artist’ among birds. It emulates various sounds, including that of cats, confusing listeners. These winsome birds can be sighted on the trees right next to road. Focus the camera on the branches and the shiny black bird with long ribbon-like tail comes into view, singing to its heart’s fill.
Another feathered variety that can be easily spotted is the bulbul. Though this bird can be seen in towns also, one has to reach places like Kuttikkanam to enjoy the orchestra provided by hornbills and bulbuls together. Lucky travellers can also sight manja chinnan making its long peculiar calls also among the greenery.
Multi-coloured butterflies are another attraction all along the path. Though they are rather shy and prefer to keep out of sight, a keen observer can thoroughly enjoy their frolic. A black-striped variety can be noticed in plenty right beside the road. Several other varieties, locally called narakakkali, vazhanasalabham, Krishnasalabham and chakkarapattu live here. However, the most prized sight would be that of Pappilio Buddha, also known as Buddha Mayuri. It a wonderful creation of nature, with wings streaked with black, green and blue hues.
With such experiences, a nature lover and traveller with loads of patience can make his or her trip worth the money and effort even before reaching Kuttikkanam. The clouds emerge from behind each curve on the black-topped road, and on the left the Valanjanganam waterfall makes its appearance. Vehicles make a brief stop here, as it offers good photo ops along with tea and snacks at the wayside shacks. It is about 4 km from Kuttikkanam on the KK Road.
Must-order items at Open Kitchen Barbeque
How to reach
The location of the restaurant is opposite the Misty Mountain plantation resort at Kuttikkanam.