Monday, June 7, 2010

City of cricket, cakes and circuses

The famed Thalassery biriyani was a let down when I finally got to savour it at Paris, the restaurant in Thalassery town that has been serving the famed food of the Mughals for decades, last month. I was used to the hot fare that they serve elsewhere in the country. Or even the Thalassery biriyani that they serve in Trivandrum.
When we arrived in the first British town of Kerala on May 22, tasting the famed biriyani was on our list of things to do in that town. When we asked around for the place to have the particular Biriyani, we were told and directed to this old restaurant near the bus stand that is reputed to serve it. At the restaurant, which is a bit run down, they still serve the old biriyani, untouched by any modern tastes. There were no eggs to be found in the servings and it was no great shakes. The spiciness was missing as we thought it should be. But what the heck, who said a Biriyani needs to be spicy.
And the town is famed for its cakes and other sweet delicacies, handed down from British masters of the town. It is also known as the birth place of the Kerala’s first newspaper, (Rajya Samacharam) first English school and first college. Herman Gundert set up the first press of Kerala in Thalassery and also compiled a Malayalam grammar book, Malayalabhaasha Vyakaranam, in 1859, the first Malayalam-English dictionary in1872, and translated the Bible into Malayalam.
Thalassery also holds the unique distinction of having India's first Cricket Club in 1860. Lord Arthur Wellesley is believed to have introduced this game in Kerala in the 18th century for the British Soldiers who were garrisoned in the Tellichery Fort.
And then Mahe is just next door…
I love my occasional glass of vodka with a dash of lime and ice and where else to get it cheap other than Mahe. I would like to go back again sooner than later to spent a day exploring the watering holes of Mahe from afternoon to late night, guzzling beer and savouring any regional flavours that is unique to Mahe.

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