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Thursday, 4 Jan 2007: Toddy time at Thirumullavaram January 12, 2007

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in India, Indian Railways, Travel.
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Got to Ernakulam Junction Railway Station around 5 in the morning. Got a ticket for Kollam in the 6303 Ernakulam – Trivandrum Vanchinad Express. The train was pretty crowded. I stood at the footboard and got some snaps of villages and paddy fields between Kottayam and Ernakulam covered in morning fog and dew. Got to Kollam around 9.30am. It was my much cherished dream on this trip to visit a toddy (kallu) shop and have lunch (oonu) from there. In Kerala, most standard toddy shops serve lunch with delicious seafood. I and my friend decided to visit Thirumullavaram, which has one of the best toddy shops serving lunch in Kerala. We got to Thirumullavaram beach, and checked out the shop by the sea nestled among lush coconut groves. I managed to drink only a glass of the frothy, sweet toddy as my friend downed a full pot over fried fish and prawns. He promptly declared it to be the best toddy he had ever had. Fresh toddy, extracted from the coconut tree and served instantly, is a rarity especially at toddy shops. Ours had some hint of fermentation, but still made a great drink. We then proceeded to the shack across the toddy shop for our much awaited lunch. It was a humble shack, with decrepit benches and tables, where food was prepared right in front of us. I soon settled into one of the yummiest lunches I have ever had. Steaming white rice, sizzling king-size kingfish with fish powder, prawns simmering in tangy coconut and mango curry, ground coconut paste with chilly (called chamanthi in local parlance), fried prawns, a vegetable dish called thoran, lime pickle and curd curry. I regretted having toddy before lunch as I felt fully loaded. The chef and his attendants ensured that we enjoyed their fare to the fullest. It was a heavenly experience! I went back home totally heady and promptly hit bed, only to be woken by a dream.

If you ever visit Kollam, don’t miss the kallu & oonu experience at Thirumullavaram. There is a small yet beautiful beach next to the toddy shop. For the less adventurous, there is a village pond overlooking the sea where you can take a dip, along with the local kids who are always practicing acrobatic diving moves. All in all, an afternoon spent at Thirumullavaram makes for a really fabulous experience. Decided to some rail-fanning at Paravur Lake, a scenic spot near Kollam next day.

To view more snaps from Kerala, click on http://new.photos.yahoo.com/schmoozeby/
Type ‘Kerala’ in the ‘search tags’ field in the top right corner and click ‘Go’.

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