It is that time of the year when air conditioned juice shops in the nook and cranny of the city are being sought out to quench that insatiable thirst. The city-zens are ready to gulp down anything that is being sold in the name of juice to beat the sweltering heat. But there are a range of wayside shops that cater to the ordinary with their myriad ‘nadan’ concoctions. Unlike the milkshakes and ice cream shops thriving in the city, these shops do not aim at a particular class. Yet, they manage to have the most customers when the temperatures are soaring high.
Shakunthala’s ‘Sambharam’ shop is one such place where there is never a dearth of customers. Offering Shakunthala’s special ‘Sambharam’ (a spicy flavoured buttermilk), with a welcoming smile, the hostess is always at your service. The ‘Morum vellam’ you get here is nothing like the usual buttermilk, curry leaves and green chillies concoction you get at any random shop. Instead Shakuntha adds a special paste she makes with garlic, ginger, pineapple, 3 types of green chillies, raw mangoes, coriander leaves, curry leaves and bilimbi with her large dose of love. Serving this panacea in tall glasses, she will wipe away your day’s trouble in a jiffy. Shakunthala and her son dole out her sambharams by adding chillies and special mixtures according the customer’s preference. Shakunthala’s shop also serves home-made Naruneendi sherbets, that stand out for their unique flavour.
“We had a hotel at Harippad and I used to make ‘morumvellam’ for the customers there. That was 12 years back. We started this shop about 5 years ago and since then we are getting many regulars who come to quench their thirst. I believe customer is the king so I cater to their needs. If some one wants more chilli in their drink I’ll make it accordingly,” says Shakunthala. She makes her special mixtures at home in Kuriyathi and brings them when she comes to the shop at 8 in the morning.
This shop owner takes rest during the monsoons, as it is difficult to maintain the sales then. But those who frequent her shop during summer, are ready to talk a nineteen to the dozen about her “Sambharams’. Sudha, who is working as a document writer at Kottakkakam finds this shop situated near RTO office as lifesaver since there are not many juice shops near her office.
“I am a regular at Shakunthala’s shop for many years now. And hers is the best ‘Sambharam’ I have ever had. She gets regular customers because of her delectable morum vellam and welcoming service,” says Sudha.
Anyone with a discerning eye will easily notice the striking colours emanating from Badshah’s pickle shop even from a distance. In iridescent colours and mouthwatering flavours sit an array of pickled carrots, beetroots, gooseberries, bilimbies, ‘karaka’, raw mangoes, jamuns and scramberries. This small shop, situated at the bypass, also serves sambharam to the thirsty lot. Malayali ‘s penchant for sour food is something of an open secret. So no quintessential Malayali can pass Badshah’s shop without stopping to have a mouthful.
“It was me who first started a pickle shop in the city about 15 years ago. Today there are many such shops thronging around the city. Those who pass the bypass surely stop here and have a bite but still my business is down these days,” says Badshah, who is adamant in using natural ingredients in his pickles. He says there is nothing but salt water in his pickles.
Alluring the customers with their ravishing red colour sits a bucket full of karaka and raw mango pickles. Sharada’s small shop which serves lemon juice, soda lemon, buttermilk, and salted veggies also has its share of nadan home-made pickles, an ideal companion to your daily meal. For those who like to dip their rice in a hot and sour pickle, Sharada’s shop is the right destination.