Delicacies from Calicut by Anita Nair

Taste the biryani and you'll know why Calicut is known as the biryani capital of the region.

Moplah Biryani
Bombay Hotel near Calicut Beach

The Bombay Hotel is an old Calicut institution and the biryani here is the best. Taste it and you'll know why Calicut is known as the biryani capital of the region. It's the Moplah Biryani, a classic of Kerala Muslim cuisine. The dish, fragrant with the spices from this coastal belt, comes with date chutney and raita, not the raita we see elsewhere, but one with lots of onions, barely moistened with a little buttermilk. The Bombay Hotel is not a place to sit back and admire the ambience; in fact, it's downright seedy. But this is where I go for my fix of Moplah Biryani.

Dig into some delcious crab curry, replete with coastal flavours.
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Thu 13 Dec, 2012 10:30 AM IST


Viva Roll
Nila Bake House outlets across the town

The Viva Roll is a uniquely Kerala product. It's like a Swiss roll, but instead of a jam or cream filling, it has this strange concoction which, I suspect, has Viva or some other malted drink powder in it. It's delicious. Just like Viva Roll, Nila Bake House has a range of more such unusual creations.

Fish Curry
Alakapuri, MM Ali Road

It's again basic dining at this place. But the fish curry, served with unpolished rice, is just exceptional. So is the fish fry. This is my choice for a no-frills but deeply satisfying everyday meal in Calicut.

Ari Kadukka (mussel dumplings)
Zain's Hotel, Convent Cross Road

This unpretentious eatery, run by the efficient Zainabi Noor, also specialises in Moplah dishes such as the Fish Biryani. My favourite thing here is the Ari Kadukka, a mussel dumpling unique to this part of Kerala. Zain's is also justly famous for its Pathiri, the rice bread, and Unnakaya, the banana sweet. This, again, is not a swanky spot, but its ambience is a vast improvement on Bombay Hotel; so even the affluent come here for the great food.

Kerala Parota and Mutton Chops
Highway stalls on the Calcutta-Nilambur highway

Leave Calicut and drive towards Nilambur and the highway is dotted with these stalls that specialise in what must be the state's 'national dish'--Kerala Parota. It's served with mutton chops in these parts and the dish is available all through the day. And then you must have the thick, strong, sweet tea at these stalls to wash it all down.

Sharjah Milkshake
Kalanthan Snacks and Cool Bar, SM Street

The Sharjah Milkshake is another Calicut classic. We've always had a love of falooda which all the street side juice stalls specialised in. Then, I think, those returning from the Gulf brought some influences and melded them with the local favourite, to create the Sharjah Milkshake. You simply have to taste this rich drink--almost a meal in itself--to complete your Calicut experience.

-Anita Nair is an author.

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