Anyone remember which restaurant in Kothamangalam used to make the best hot n spicy chilly Chicken and parottas?
You may have different memories, but we four roommates remember the one from Lakshmi Hotel on AM road. It was our favourite place for occasional splurging on samousas, cutlets, and masala dosas and so on. We frequented that place for any birthday treats or a bet win. Food was cheap and tasted very good. I think all over the world, only college students know the best and cheapest place to eat a good meal.
There is another reason too….
….. after confirming with the friends involved – Swapna, Mini Mathew and Sunitha, I have decided to reveal it now.
All these years we were thinking hard if we should disclose an LH secret. Now when we are nearing the jubilee celebrations and since I live as far away as I can I guess it is safe to do a confession. And, after confirming with the friends involved – Swapna, Mini Mathew and Sunitha, I have decided to reveal it now.
It was the last summer we spent in MACE. Exams were almost over and some lab, viva and a few little things were remaining. We were nearing the end of course and the exam tensions are also getting over. One hot April morning, as usual we all got up and had our usual breakfast and newspaper reading. Then someone remembered about an assignment we needed to collect from the electrical department. So we went to college around 10 and went straight to the department. Miss Leena was there. She pointed to a bunch of papers on a shelf at the corner. We went through ours and then saw some other piles of papers. A sudden thought came to one of us- who is going to come for all these papers? It is practically useless as the marks would have already gone and everyone is kind of packing up for home.
A sudden instinct came to our mind. We collected all those papers while Miss. Leena was leaving for a class and the other teachers were busy enough to bother about our presence. Quietly we carried all those papers back to LH.
While carrying the papers our engineering brains started working. Of course, the future engineers would have produced great work that is priceless! For that, teacher would have given appropriate marks as well. But beyond those red letters, things have a basic economic value too (Remember Economican?) For instance, the blue bucket you used in the hostel, a working calculator, a T-square, a logarithm table, textbooks, and a micro-tip pen – everything has some basic value. We didn’t have to think much before we rejoiced at the prospects of selling them and getting a reward for ourselves for all our hard work! We decided to increase the value; we cleared our room and collected all our record books, assignments and other paper notes to make it into a sizeable pile.
Then we called Shaji, a 14-15 year old boy who used to run errands in the kitchen and outside. We asked him to take the pile and sell them for whatever he can get and buy a full size chilly chicken and 8 parottas. I am not sure the recycle value of paper these days, but in our good old days it had some real value that could feed us a meal. Shaji went on his cycle and we waited hungrily and anxiously. We tried to refer some books or do some kind of studies, but the excitement was too much that none of us studied anything.
It was lunch time when Shaji returned with two banana leaf packets covered with newspaper. The warmth of parottas and chicken was still there.
It was lunch time when Shaji returned with two banana leaf packets covered with newspaper. The warmth of parottas and chicken was still there. We collected the packets, paid him his tip and quietly washed our hands and closed our room. Then we sat around the packets carefully opening them one by one. The familiar sight of orange-red chilly chicken covered in soya and tomato sauce, the sprinkle of capsicum , half coked onions, split green chillies and the mouth watering aroma was too hard to resist. We started our action and were thoroughly enjoying the food when some studious girl knocked at the door for a book or something. We quickly hid the food under the coat and tried our best not to show the stained hands while opening the doors. She was a bit curious about the chicken smell in our room, but we gave some random explanations and sent her off as quickly as we could before attacking the leftover food. Thank God! There was no more interference until we finished and it was so delicious. We all felt so satisfied and happy for our reward and took a small rest in the afternoon.
None of us thought about this incident for two weeks or so until one day Mini K Shanmugham, a day-scholar and a padippist came knocking at our door for the same assignment we ate. Apparently she went to the department and was told that we collected the assignments for the whole class! We were frozen for a moment. But those days our thinking caps used to work very well. We denied outright. Not us. May be someone else? Or may be misplaced somehow? She was not very happy, and I am not sure if she really believed us too. Come on, why would someone like Mini need her assignments? Very unlikely she will need to redo that paper! So we justified our action and kept our cool.
Years passed. Sunitha and Mini, the rank-holders, happened to work for the same employer – KSEB. Sunitha always remained mindful of crossing paths with Mini K – picture of her assignment dancing over a fluffy Parotta haunted her. The mere thought of Chilli Chicken would send chills down her spine!
Looking back, it was such an impromptu decision to have some fun although we were not lacking much entertainment. There was no hesitation to go for a movie on the days before exams, or travel to a friend’s home to enjoy a Doordarshan program in peace. But selling all the records and assignments before we got our results and eating with that money was a bit of extra thrill.
Not sure if Lakshmi hotel still exists or not. But the taste of that chicken never left us and we could never find anything equivalent in our quest for best chilly chicken. May be it tasted well due to the way we earned it! For Jubilee meet if we happen to order some food at Kothamangalam, we recommend the Chilly chicken and Parottas from Lakshmi Hotel. And share it with Mini as well – if she will accept it as an apology from us!