Towards the End of MCR

Among the major roads of Kerala, Main Central Road (MC Road) has a major place, officially known as the State Highway One. Built by Raja Kesavadas, Dewan of Travancore and starting from Kesavadasapuram in Thiruvananthapuram and ending at Angamaly where it joins the National Highway 47 from Kanyakumari with its end at Salem. As the very much traveled road ends at Angamaly, there are a few restaurants which I would like to recommend during its last few thirty-fourty kilometres of its journey.

As you go past Muvattupuzha from Koothattukulam, you are into the last thirty five kilometres of the journey through MC Road. After you leave the town, the first interesting restaurant that you reach will be at Pezhakkappilly, the Aaryas Food Court which will cater to your vegetarian needs. There is a wide variety of special dosas and the menu is quite an interesting one. Tea is available at all times including noon, and the varieties of Paneer there have been among my favourites.

The closing of Indian Coffee House at Pezhakkappilly has been the most depressing thing for me. I used to go all the way there just for the food at ICH, but unfortunately, all that is lost to us now. But Aaryas is there, and there is enough parking for some cars while the rest can be parked a little bit away from there on the side of the road. A former vegetarian restaurant there has also been restarted there, and if I remember the name correctly, it was called Hotel Paragon Park, and that is also a good restaurant.

This kind of setting was also there for the restaurant mentioned above.

This kind of setting was also there earlier for the restaurant mentioned above.

You get more restaurants when you reach Perumbavoor. Saravana Bhavan is right there keeping the quality as usual as you enter the town. It should be the vegetarian restaurant which I have visited the most number of times, and Poori Masala and Paneer Masala Dosa there have been my long time favourites. Just after this restaurant, there is Hotel Woodlands which is a smaller, but nice choice at cheaper rates. Aryas Dosa Corner is there near the main junction; but the location makes parking here more difficult than around the previous two.

After the rush in the Perumbavoor town is over and you go on, you will notice Ammu’s Dosa Corner on the right side, just opposite the Saint George Latin Catholic Church. The food is cheaper here, and there are many varieties of dosa here – you might want to try a few types. After that, you can have food from Annapoorna which is a standard place for people who return home after the church mass. For non-vegetarian, there is Honeydew restaurant which is only a few metres from there. The last two provides a lot of parking area.

As you go past Vallom and reach Okkal, there is Kerala Food Court has the best Appam I have had for quite a long time, and the Poori Masala as well as the dosa items are good too. The place has a lot of parking available, and it is a comfortable place which is very neat. This restaurant is my latest find in that route. Then you reach Kalady, and there you have the Indian Coffee House which will make the right choice for food as usual. There is also an Aaryas restaurant right beside it.

Another Indian Coffee House is there inside the Little Flower Hospital which I am yet to try. If you are going to stop at Angamaly town, there is the Rassam restaurant inside the KSRTC Bus Station which is a fine place for having some nice vegetarian food. Another Indian Coffee House is there inside the bus station, and there exists a Saravana Bhavan in the town too. Well, these are only a few of my favourite places, and it is certain that there will be no shortage of good food during the last stretch of Main Central Road!

When you go through MC Road, you will know that this church has its own Redeemer.

When you go through MC Road, you will know that this church has its own Redeemer.

***The images used in this blog post were taken by me on my Samsung Cybershot DSC-W310 and Samsung Galaxy Duos.

TeNy

Seven Faces of Beauty

There are not many places which I have visited with friends in the first half of the 2000s. But I am sure that there was one such a place, and this destination was so lesser known at that time that if we had talked about this possible location for spending some time during the weekend, people would ask why – there was Ezhattumugham. Most of the people during that time wouldn’t have known the location, but things have changed now. This place has become more popular these days, even though it is not yet a destination which brings a lot of crowd.

Enter the world of rocks; do you feel like Super Mario around here?

Enter the world of rocks; do you feel like Super Mario around here?

After visiting the place in 2004, I had another journey there in 2012 and was surprised at the changes which had happened there. In 2004, it was like a place rarely explored, and nowadays, there is a good number of visitors there. Earlier, the cars were rare to find, and most of the visitors were the youth who came on motor-bikes. But in the last few years, the fame did spread and families did start visiting the place and the facilities also did increase making it an official tourist destination.

The tree-house idea keeps making things better, all the time.

The grand tree-house idea keeps making things better, all the time.

Even though it is located in the border areas of Ernakulam and Trichur districts, the place is only about fifty kilometres from the city of Cochin, and a journey from the Cochin International Airport will take only about thirteen kilometres. The nearest city is Trichur which is less than fifty kilometres away. You can take a turn at Angamaly or at Karukutty while coming from Cochin as you go through Aluva by the National Highway 47. A turn at Chalakudy might be the best road even though longer.

You have the right and privilege to get transported to this world.

You have the right and privilege to get transported to this world.

The Chalakudy route is mostly preferred for the people who come from the North while the South has their own shortcuts. There was also a hanging bridge coming up to join banks of the river. The popularity of Ezhattumugham also has its roots in the Federal Institute of Science and Technology (FISAT) which is located about four kilometres from there. It is from the students of the reputed engineering college that I first came to know about Ezhattumugham and my first visit was also with one of them.

There is more beauty to nature than you will ever find in the known world.

There is more beauty to nature than you will ever find in the known world.

Ezhattumugham is a place of serene beauty. There will be only less visitors during the morning times, and a walk through the place is nothing less than refreshing. With developments taking place as the potential has been realized, there are tree-houses and park facility for children along with small shops to have some nice tea on the entrance, with restroom facility also available on one side. You can walk quite some distance around there, looking at and capturing the beauty of nature.

You walk through this disconnected path, towards eternity.

You walk through this disconnected path, towards eternity.

You are free to walk on the rocks and water through nature as you witness trees fed by the water which surrounds them, and all those shapes which these rocks will take. As you walk on these rocks to reach the centre and the other sides of the river, you will feel the need to sit there and enjoy the beauty. You can also walk on the dam-like area to reach the other side. I haven’t seen where the new bridge actually begins and end; maybe it brings a better view of the beauty of the place.

It is the green side which pauses your journey each and every time.

It is the green side which pauses your journey each and every time.

Athirapally-Vazhachal waterfalls is also only about twenty four kilometres from here, and so you can combine both these destinations together to make it one nice package. The best places for food will still be Indian Coffee House which is present throughout the route from Cochin after Aluva. You can divide the day into two and cover both of them as long as you don’t slow down and start right when the places open for tourists. Ezhattumugham won’t be that safe during the rainy season though, and you have to be careful during the journey all the time if you are not used to this.

This tree welcomes you to Ezhattumugham as the official messenger of nature :D

This tree welcomes you to Ezhattumugham as the official messenger of nature 😀

***The images used in this blog post were taken by me on my Sony Cybershot DSC W-310.

+Wishing you all, a Happy Deepavali/Diwali 🙂

TeNy

For the Restaurants

I have had a long history with the restaurants of my favourite towns, and I had already written about those five towns already. The restaurants at Aluva, Perumbavoor, Muvattupuzha, Kothamangalam and Angamaly have been part of my life for quite a long time because they are part of the routes which I have traveled a lot. Yes, a good number of restaurants around the city of Cochin also got a big part to play in the same. Throughout my life, I have loved many restaurants and decided not to visit a few ever.

I have rarely hated any of the restaurants because I have always found one interesting item in one form or the other. Most of my favourite restaurants were vegetarian, with only a few exceptions in each town. I have already written about how much of an integral part of my life, Indian Coffee House has been. But talking about the restaurants, or at least most of them, there are a few things which I would like to see at all of them. I am sharing them here.

Try providing only the needed amount of curry: When there is only one person having food, I am surprised that there is so much of the curry being provided whether it is vegetarian or non-vegetarian. When I go outside with friends, if we are only two, we share one curry with the rice, Chappathi, Porotta, Appam or whatever we are having. This is the reason why I have some Dosa, Idli or Biriyani items which don’t require separate curry when I am alone. I am sure that I won’t be able to finish one full curry, but the restaurants can have the option of providing half-curry or sometimes even quarter-curry?

There Dal Fry which you see is usually enough for me and my friend :)

The Dal Fry which you see here with the roti is usually enough for me and my friend 🙂

Try not to make random assumptions: I have seen that many non-vegetarian restaurants bring Chicken Noodles, Chicken Fried Rice or Chicken Biriyani whenever we ask for Noodles, Fried Rice or Biriyani. This has happened to me on a number of occasions. There was a time when I had to chase the waiter to tell him that I actually meant Vegetable Biriyani only. This is really not fair. You can’t make me eat non-vegetarian just because the restaurant is non-vegetarian. I might have chosen this restaurant because of its location or due to the fact that someone who is with me wants to have non-vegetarian, and it needn’t be even chicken – it can be fish, mutton or anything else.

Make tea available at all times: Having anything cold might not be the right thing to do at all times, and so I would like to say, let there be tea! Yes, it has to be there all the time, from the moment the restaurant opens to the time when it closes. It has been a nice feature of restaurant chains like Indian Coffee House, but a lot of restaurants have failed to keep that property even as some combinations of bakeries and restaurants do manage the same. As the common man’s drink, tea should be available at all times, and at the cheapest possible price; it is rather a necessity.

Dosa means enough free sambhar, and tea at any time makes it better.

Dosa means enough free sambar, and tea at any time makes the situation a lot better.

Don’t hesitate to bring us the menu: Yes, please do bring that because even if you talk about what all are available in slower pace than that usual high-speed talk, we might not be able to follow that exactly as it is supposed to be. We might end up hearing something else, or may be you will just forget one name, and we won’t get that thing which we really want to have. It is really a loss on both sides, and lets keep things clear with the menu. Knowing the prices of all those things will also help. May be there can be a huge menu board on the wall like we usually see at the branches of Indian Coffee House – they are very useful.

Do have the restrooms for customers: Yes, this is very significant because when we are on the long drives, the presence of the same will only help to make sure that the customers make the visit. I have rarely been interested in visiting a restaurant without them, and hasn’t added them to my list of favourite restaurants. It is better to have them outside the restaurant too, or at least on the other side, quite far away from the kitchen. Some restaurants are really careful about the same, like the Carnival Food Court near Angamaly which maintains the cleanliness really well.

***The images used in this blog post were taken by me only.

TeNy

ICH: Our True Lifeline

Whenever we have travelled around Kerala in a car or on a two-wheeler, there was always the need for a place to have tea at regular intervals, and there was surely the need to have food. We couldn’t have food from here and there, because nobody can say for sure how good it is, especially by the quality. You might see the best looking restaurants, but there no guarantee about the quality, especially when wandering through those areas were there are no friends to recommend the best places.

The oldest memory that I ever had of a restaurant which still exists, goes back to the Indian Coffee House, even though that branch at Perumbavoor no longer exists, with another branch opening about eight kilometres from there instead. At that time, I used to say that I wanted to visit an Indian Coffee House, and any of those branches would do, because they were all the same, and there was quality. I had already visited every branch in Ernakulam district long before I was a teenager.

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Indian Coffee House is spread all over Kerala, as it has the largest number of branches in the state. It has evolved into being the best choice of the Malayalis all around. It is fully owned by the employees of the restaurant chain as a co-operative society, with a committee elected for management. The biggest encouragement for starting this chain of restaurant goes to the popular communist leader of Kerala, A.K. Gopalan who was a leading social activist in the state. You can see his portrait at every branch of ICH.

With its fifty year anniversary celebrated in 2008, this group of restaurants having its headquarters at Thrissur has its most number of branches there itself, along with the same number at the capital city of Trivandrum. Considering the branches from Thrissur to Trivandrum, they have the same price everywhere. The northern version of Indian Coffee House from Palakkad to Kasargode is kind of different, even with the structure remaining the same. You can notice the difference on the logo itself.

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Even though the Indian Coffee House from Central Kerala to the South which covers eight of the fourteen districts has been more of the thing of concern for me, I have found the quality very good in both cases, as I have tried both. The Thrissur based ICH does have the Poori Masala factor available at all times, which was replaced by Idli, and that too only in the morning for the Northern based ICH. The choices were less in the latter case. For the former though, most of the things shown on the menu are available throughout the day.

Lets get back to the Thrissur based ICH completely which deals with the Travancore-Cochin area, and you can actually check the rates from their website itself. After it opened a branch at Aluva, it had become our regular place to have some tea. I was highly disappointed when the branch at Muvattupuzha was closed, and it is quite an addition to the earlier shock given by the closing of their restaurant at Perumbavoor. Well, now Perumbavoor surely needs one, but not at that earlier location which is too crowded.

I would say that the best branch opened is at the Angamaly Bus Station, which is a very nice choice of location, as the town now got three of them. I have the opinion that each and every bus station, railway station, theatre and mall should have one Indian Coffee House near enough. Also imagine having one near those pilgrim centres. They have the best people serving food in their trademark clothing, and having the fine quality food. With the low costs and tasting nice and exactly the same in each branch, ICH always scores.

***The images used in this blog post were taken during some of my visits to ICH.

With love for the ICH tea
TeNy

All About the Food

I haven’t been too interested in food these days, as the taste has bothered me less; but still I have my favourite places for every food item, both the vegetarian and the non-vegetarian, as well as the drinks. This list is based on the restaurants around Aluva and Perumbavoor, on the north eastern side of the city of Cochin, and are part of the Greater Cochin Area or the extended Kochi Metropolitan Area, within fifty kilometres from the centre of the city, and not more than an hour and half journey from the city unless there is the worst traffic problem.

Masala Dosa is the best at Anna Gowri Restaurant, Aluva – I have found the right combination of both the masala and dosa with the quantity being exact, rather than having too much masala or just those huge potatoes which make it only a potato dosa. But if you want some special varities of the same, you might want to try the Saravana Bhavan at Perumbavoor which has Paneer Masala Dosa and a good number of special ones available after twelve PM, and the menu changes every day. The Idli there is nice too.

Navya Bakers brings the need to travel to Aluva and watch movie there.

Navya Bakers brings the need to travel to Aluva and watch movie there.

For the Ghee Dosa, the Dosa Corner at Perumbavoor is a very nice choice, followed by the Annapoorna Restaurant at the same place. For Vegetable Biriyani, I have always tried the Kammath’s Inn at Aluva, while for Poori Masala I have preferred the Shenoy’s Restaurant at theh same town. For all kinds of Oothappam, whether it is of onion or tomato, I have always preferred Anna Lakshmi restaurant at Aluva, located at Desom to be exact – it was my best find during my times at the Union Christian College.

The best Biriyani Rice or Ghee Rice and the best Beef Biriyani is from Orma Restaurant, Perumbavoor, followed by the Honeywell Restaurant at the same town. The favourite in the case of Chicken Biriyani goes back to Aluva, at the Grand Restaurant while the best for all kinds of beef curry, especially Chill Beef goes to the Surya Restaurant at Aluva. The best curries of chicken was from Taal, a restaurant at Aluva which no longer exists, much to my disappointment.

The best tea is from Indian Coffee House, and as far as I know, they have the best coffee too. They are also the best when it comes to the cutlets, and they are close to the railway station and the bus stand at Aluva, which makes them an easy place to visit. Then there is the hope to have shake, and it should be the Navya Bakers at Aluva which can also boast about having the best Vegetable, Meat, Egg and Chicken Puffs – and they are like my all-time favourite bakery along with Ceecee which has its existence at Perumbavoor, followed by Kumars.

Ceecee Bakery has had a long "cutlet" relationship with my childhood.

Ceecee Bakery has had a long “cutlet” relationship with my childhood.

From Aryaas at Aluva and Perumbavoor, there is also that nice combination of Fried Rice and Paneer Butter Masala. The new restaurants just keep coming, especially at Aluva, where there are so many more than those which had seen a few months ago. It just adds to the confusion about where to eat from, and even having tea has become more the confusion. We have often stood on the side of the road worried, as there were just too many options to choose from.

The doubts about food; we can never really move out of it. Indian Coffee House has been one entity – that chain of awesome restaurants which solved that problem up-to an extent. But the chain no longer works in Perumbavoor and Muvattupuzha which has left a big void on the MC Road, as it never existed at the next towns Koothattukulam, Kuravilangad and Ettumanoor either. Let’s hope that we can make a good list about the restaurants which are around the major towns. Who knows when we need to have that tea and some food? 😀

TeNy

Possible Food Programs

It has been only a few months since I returned to the town of Perumbavoor, and I would still want to share my favourite places of food here. These places are the most frequently visited bakeries and restaurants during my short stay here. There haven’t been that much food programs as in Aluva, but there are always those movies and with the days at the theatres come the food from outside. Still, missing Anna-Gowri and Surya Restaurants or the Navya Bakers (http://www.navyabakers.com) of Aluva comes with it.

1. Honeywell Restaurant: The bakers attached with this place is fine and I have had something from there now and then, but my attention has been more on restaurant. What interests the most is the Beef Biriyani there, and the Ghee Rice itself is nicely prepared. I would choose the one here as the best Beef Biriyani I ever had, and it is a big challenge to my hopes to stay vegetarian most of the time. It is on the way to Kalady/Angamaly from Perumbavoor, and just after the Saint George Catholic Church and the Annapoorna Vegetarian Restaurant on the left side.

Navya Bakers brings the need to travel to Aluva and watch movie there.

Navya Bakers brings the need to travel to Aluva and watch movie there.

2. Maria Bakers: This was a discovery we made while travelling to Kothamangalam, and on the way, just about two kilometres from the town of Perumbavoor, this place is on the right, exact opposite of a petrol pump and between workshops and tyre works – a good choice to have tea and snacks from here if your vehicle needs repair. The cutlet and puffs are among the best, and the green laddoo here is very nice. Also check out for the special thengalapaal murukku and kuzhalappam here which comes from Thodupuzha – and another mention for the tea.

3. Orma Food Court and Woodlands Restaurant: Just on the side of the KSRTC Bus Station, Orma is the best choice around that area, and therefore I have chosen the place for food whenever I arrived at the bus station there – as far as I can remember, not many restaurants flourished at that place, but Orma does because of its bakery-restaurant combination and the nice Beef Fry. Meanwhile, if the choice is vegetarian, I would just walk to the Main Central Road, and choose Woodlands Restaurant which has nice Poori Masala and a fine Masala Dosa. It is a smaller and nice option.

4: Kumar Bakers: This one has always been there, and has been my first choice to buy cutlet whenever I passed through Perumbavoor. I have been to three branches of them at Perumbavoor, and the two on the Main Central Road are close to each other, one on the right side just after the Kalady Junction and the other on the left side of the Oushdi Junction, while travelling to Angamaly/Kalady. I have my tea and cutlet on the former, but parking a car might be a problem.

Ceecee Bakery has had a long "cutlet" relationship with my childhood.

Ceecee Bakery has had a long “cutlet” relationship with my childhood.

5. Ceecee Bakery: Ceecee Bakery is a big name in the bakeries of central Kerala, and I can remember those large number of cutlets and puffs that I had from there when I was a kid. After a short break, it has come back to Perumbavoor, and this time, it looks even better; situated on the way to Kalady/Angamaly from Perumbavoor, one the right, just after the Oushadi junction. I have visited nine branches of the bakery if I remember it correctly. Ceecee has a long history, and even when we were at Aluva, their branch near Cochin Airport was common choice for us. Here are more details: http://www.ceeceebakery.com/

Along with these options Saravana Bhavan is always there and Zaina Food Court is also a fair option. Shree Aryaas is also not much different from the former, but is without almost any parking space at all, which is applicable to the latter too. Annappoorna is another option. I would give a special mention to a closed Aarya Bhavan and the Indian Coffee House that hasn’t been here since its shifting long ago. The closest ICH is at Kalady, and it is also the quickest from here considering the fact that the same restaurant a few kilometres before Muvattupuzha has disappeared. ***All the images used in this blog post are from the websites of Navya Bakers and Ceecee Bakery.

TeNy