Friday, November 2, 2012


Payyanur has a taste of its own. We had a number of very good chefs who will prepare a delicious ‘sadya ‘ with our characteristic 'sambar' and 'koottukary' within no time. Even the meal one gets at viswabhavan near Payyanur Bus stand will be far better than any meal one gets in moderate hotels elsewhere in Kerala. I have met people who remember the tasty meal and masala dasai of Bombay hotel when I mentioned that I belong to Payyanur.  (There is also a sad reminder- Last week a friend half jokingly remarked that the chicken prepared at all  kitchens in Payyanur is nowadays very identical –it tastes Topform)
What did our forefathers  take as breakfast in the past- Simple- the delicious kuluthu with the previous days meenkari. At noon a delicious meal with fresh vegetable sambar , varavu , moru and pappadam and for supper a splendid meal with fish curry. Tea became a habit only later. 
The mouth of every adult in gramam will water when someone mentions kammarettan’s ,( Pancharakammarettan to be exact)  hotel. The idly and kadla supplied in the early hours of the day was the best available breakfast throughout the district. Several chefs of hotels tried to imitate kammarettan but in vain. He never disclosed the secret combination to anyone. Hence the taste has gone forever except in the memory of the lucky who had the chance of eating the rare combination. There was a time when all elder gramers will assemble at the shop well before 5 am.when the first devotional song is played loudly in the temple player. Kammarettan will be busy with the first set of idlies, after of course lighting the samovar. After enquiring about his health which never failed, queries regarding the health of ailing old gramers on the verge of farewell will be raised which will be amply replied by those present. The samovar will start to tickle by that time. The group will consist of farmers with plough, early travelers to railway station, bus stand and the like. The hotel is the first public place of gramam  . Here everything concerning the community is disused in great details. International, national, local incidents are discussed. Even though Kammarettan will take part in the discussion it will never affect his first devotion. He will make tea in his characteristic way. He will clean the cups and glasses with hot water empty the tea bag (which could later be used as manure) and fill it with fresh fragrant tea. With two aluminum cups in both hands, one above his head and the other well below his knees and the boiling tea in between in a surf , the art of tea making is very difficult to describe but is to be tasted by tongue. The tea together with idlies and kadla is indeed a treat.
It is here that gramam dawned every day. The programmes of all present will be discussed . Someone will vehemently explain the reason of the violent incidents in a home nearby the previous  night. 
As a child, I wished to be in Kammarettans shop in the mornings after my long journey to the milk society every morning at 5 am barring rain or cold. But we were forbidden to go to tea shops. Some parents took their children there . But I never got that opportunity. It was only when I started to earn from Gramodaya that I frequented the shop. Kammarettan was of a peculiar type. He will not serve tea or snacks to people he disliked. He liked me very much.
Now the taste has vanished- The  shop is no more. But Murali, Chindattan’s son is the new star. Some are even addicted to his porotta and masla kari

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