Local produce, nifty cooks and traders from time immemorial have endowed each region in Kerala with a treasure trove of local flavours. The same ingredients are used to come up with an astonishing variety of culinary wonders. If jackfruit is used to cook several curries and the ripe fruit is preserved as chakkavaratti all over Kerala, certain communities in the State make pappadam with it.
Similarly, beef fry is a favourite in almost every nook and corner of the State but idi erachi is a staple of the Christian community, especially among those living in the hilly ranges. In the olden days, the meat, dried and pounded with spices, used to be smoked above old-fashioned firewood stoves. Similarly, avalose podi, unniappam, chakka appam and aval vilayichathu are the taste of nostalgia.
Boutique store Sarwaa, opposite the All India Radio premises in Thiruvananthapuram, opens Sarwaa Eats, which brings all those delicacies to the city. It has an eclectic collection of food items, old and new, from all over Kerala. “Instead of opting for well-known brand names, we have gone in for food made by home cooks, some of which have a loyal clientèle in the city or in their neighbourhood. So we have a rich selection of products, ranging from pickles, preserves, jams and squash to biriyani, cutlets, many kinds of appam, cupcakes, kondattam and so on,” says Tigi Philip, proprietor of Sarwaa.
She adds that since they were not sure how the demand would be like in a post-COVID-19 situation, she requested her vendors to concentrate on snacks and eats with a shelf-life of at least three days.
The pandemic and the ensuing lockdown had brought to a halt many of the budding businesses in the city fostered by enterprising home cooks catering to clients in the city. Tigi hopes Sarwaa Eats will also be of help to nurture their enterprise and bring them more business.
The many communities who have made the State their home also have distinctive cuisines that are not easily found in stores. Tigi has managed to source such delicacies of the Konkani and Tamil Brahmin communities of Kerala.
For instance, in Karamana and Valiyasala agraharams, there are many women who are into making and selling ready-to-fry rice fritters, dried mango and lime pickles, curd chilli, gun powder, sambar and rasam powder. Tigi has sourced all these directly from the home cooks themselves.
“Kothamangalam, well known for its produce from fruits, will be represented by Daisy Mundakal, who brings to the city her wide variety of squash made from beetroot, cashew apple, lubica, gooseberry etc. Naja Beevi from Kozhikode has typical Moplah eats such as kasoor appam, madakku and kozhi ada. Many of them would be new to the city while Manju Madhu’s fruit butters and granolas already have many takers,” adds Tigi.
From the homes of Palakkad come kondattam made of ulli, unnithandu, manathakkali and beans.
Evergreen favourites like cupcakes and a mind-boggling spectrum of cakes are another attraction along with several desserts, including the kunafa.
Sarwaa Eats opens on June 16.