We Don’t Serve Cows.

By Anup Kutty (First published in Newslaundry)

Ever since the Delhi Police bulldozed their way into Kerala House to investigate complaints pertaining to bovine activities, I’ve had a flurry of calls asking for The Toddy Shop’s stand on cows.

I have to make it clear that The Toddy Shop does not serve cows. I’d advise other establishments to do the same. They are nothing but trouble. They walk in looking all war-torn with their big dark pitiful eyes like Brahminical entities that’ve seen better days. As if they were part of a displaced dynasty ravaged by years of decadence and ignorance.

But all they really want is a meal, even an empty doggy bag would do. You feed them and wish them luck. They don’t have the money to pay you but they could perhaps give you some milk. It can cure diabetes, they claim. You politely decline and ask them to leave. But they look at you like your mother does when you tell her to leave you alone. You feed them some more polythene hoping that would get rid of them. Instead, they piss around the place. They tell you their urine is a disinfectant and can even cure cancer. Perhaps you could explore the idea of bottling and selling it.

You tell the milchers that they should go back to where they belong. But they’ve already multiplied. They have grown in numbers and have little calves standing around looking at you from the corner of their suspicious eyes. You try to play with them but they run away like the ungrateful wretches they are.

our customers start complaining about all the dung they have to avoid stepping on. Some threaten to post about it on Zomato. Some actually do. You try saying this to the cows but they tell you that it cures pimples and you could plaster it on your walls to escape nuclear radiation. You call bullshit and refuse to budge till all the cows go home. But they’ve already launched a start-up selling bottled urine and milk and packaged dung to your customers. You notice that your clients are now coming to do business with them.

You can’t take this anymore. You call in the cops. But the beef-brained officer tells you that they are protected by the Constitution. He says he will help you if you help him.

You watch the cattle chew endless cud as you fumble with your near-empty pockets. You move out and look for greener pastures.

Yes sir, these bossy creatures are nothing but trouble. To protect ourselves, we’ve now installed a signboard that spells it out clearly: “We don’t serve cows!”

So, the next time a cow walks in asking for a beef fry, we point them to the board and ask them to run along.

If they want beef, they can go to Kerala.

Non-vegetarian’s delight

By RAVI VERMA (The Hindu)

I remember mentioning in these columns how my friends from Kerala are always divided when it comes to restaurants that serve food from the region. I, however, don’t have strong views on the subject. I went to Mahabelly some months ago, and enjoyed some of their dishes especially the biryani. A few of my friends were surprised. And one young niece, who now believes she knows a thing or two about Kerala food because her husband is a true-blue Malayali, then held forth on The Toddy Shop, which she thought served food that was close to what her in-laws’ kitchen offered.

I haven’t been to the in-laws’ house in Kerala, but if that’s like The Toddy Shop, I should plan a visit. I went to the restaurant a few weeks ago, and had a very nice meal there, indeed.

Delhi these days has quite a few small Kerala restaurants. There are tiny shops in INA Market, and in and around Mayur Vihar, where you get good mutton fry and pothu fry. I remember long years ago, when –– Delhi-ites thought you were referring to bitter gourd when you talked of a Kerala meal –– there was a small place called Sridharan in Gole Market, which served the yummiest Kerala mutton you could dream of. Then the old man passed away, and a son-in-law called Tyagi took over the eatery, and the food, not surprisingly, changed colour. A long time ago, there was a small eatery called Navkerala, near the old Super Bazar in Connaught Place.

There was a dearth of Kerala food for a while, though Coconut Grove, and a short-lived restaurant near Safdarjung Enclave did sate our appetites for some time. The restaurants, alas, are no more. But The Toddy Shop in Hauz Khas Village can fill the vacuum.

It’s not far from the parking area of the Village. I thought I’d have to go through a treadmill test (many of these eateries are on rooftops, which require a walk up several flights of stairs), but it turned out to be on the second floor, which was a relief. The ambience was warm and arty –– the poet, Jeet Thayil, had just finished reading out some of his works when we reached there, The servers, though none from Kerala, were friendly and helpful. And the meal, itself, was excellent.

We had quite a spread. First there was pothu erachi varattiyathu, an excellent Kerala beef fry (Rs.350) which we had with parottas. Then there was a creamy erachi ishtoo –– mutton in coconut milk (Rs.400) –– which we ate with appams. For the youngster in our midst, there was Kozhi varutharachathu, chicken with roasted spices and coconut (Rs.350). Appams are for 50 a piece, and the parottas for Rs.60.

I loved the pothu fry, which is anyway a great favourite of mine, and the lamb ishtoo, which had the taste of mild spices simmered in coconut milk. The chicken, too, was flavourful, and went well the parottas. We had another lamb dish, erachi varathadu, lamb cooked with shallots and coconut (Rs.320). This one was thick and spicy, and most enjoyable.

It was a very nice meal, and I suppose I have to give some credit to the young niece who is now quite a Kerala expert. Now I have to try out a small place near Saket that our friend, the one who took us to The Toddy Shop has been singing praises of. She lives around the corner, so I hope she’ll lead us there one day soon. And if that’s not a hint, I don’t know what is!