THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: There was a time when the small roadside eateries (chayakkadas) of Kerala acted as a space for meaningful talks and healthy debates. Devouring their daily dose of caffeine, Malayalis revisited Marx, Eisenstein and Dostoyevsky with undying adulation, in those corners. ‘Kappiyidam’, an eatery located at Kuravankonam, is Shijo Philip’s small bid to bring back that long-lost sepia-tinted era, in his own little way. But this ‘coffee house’ serves much more than coffee and profound ideologies.
“My idea was to provide a space where people can come and spent some time with a book while sipping some coffee. But soon I realised that the location demands much more than that. People are looking for authentic nadan food in this area and thence we started serving traditional cusine,” says Shiju.
There are no fancy menus listing a spew of exotic dishes in ‘Kappiyidam’. Instead Shiju believes in serving whatever they have.
“I want ‘Kappiyidam’ to be just like a home. When somebody comes to your home, you will serve meals of your choice. Likewise, we are serving a variety of dishes everyday. If you have ‘idiyappam’ one day, it is not necessary that we will be serving it the next day. I am also trying to bring in a slow food concept which is becoming a fad around the globe,” says Shiju.
Shiju, in his long kurta and spectacles, looks more like a litterateur than a hotelier. And that is what makes him and his small endeavour different. There are only two things Shiju insists his chefs to follow.
“I asked them to not to keep food more than a day and to not use artificial ingredients such as food colour. I told them not to bother with taste. I was sure that if they do these two things diligently taste would follow. It took me some time to convince my chefs. But once they started following this, it worked like a charm,” says Shiju.
Shiju, who had a catering business years ago, says he still has not much clue about cooking. However, he keeps his menu simple and run-of-the-mill.
“People ask me about the specialty in here and I tell them there is nothing special here. Because not having anything exotic is what makes our place unique,” he quips and people flocking the door confirms the same. Shiju’s eatery located in one of the chic locations in the capital city, is devoid of any added luxuries. There are no air conditioners or soft lights in this small set-up. However, this tiled-house is as welcoming as anybody’s home with rooms done in neon shades.
There are no bearers to serve you the lunch that comprises parippu, pappadam, theeyal and thoran. The lunch is arranged as a buffet so that customers can have the dishes of their choice in the quantity they want. Chicken perattu, Beef ularthiyathu, fish curry and fish fry are also there for the meat lovers to dig in. Valsamma, a regular at ‘Kappiyidam’ is all praise of their food and ambiance.
“I have been staying alone after my husband’s demise. So Kappiyidam, which started four months ago came as a resort. I come here with guests who visit me or some times I buy parcels for myself,” says Valsamma. Shiju says people like Valsamma are great food critics as well.
“Whenever we make a mistake they let us know and that helps us in improving,” Shiju says. The evenings in Kappiyidam are more special with nadan dishes such as Appam, idiyappam, kappa and puttu with appropriate side dishes.
“Puttu and kadala are the most in demand. Beef and chicken dishes have also its takers,” Shiju says.