This restaurant in Cochin became the talk of town from the very first day it started operations. One could always see a crowd patiently waiting at the reception area, be it afternoon, evening or night. Most people commented that it is only because the place is owned by Dileep, a superstar in the Malayalam film industry. Then I met people who dined there and they were those who loved everything about the place and it had little to do with its association with the superstar. This eatery known as in Dhe Puttu, serves only puttu, a preparation made by steaming rice powder a cylindrical utensil (but different varieties, of course) – one of the favourite breakfast items of a Malayali.
This restaurant is very near to my house and ever since it opened, I really wanted to try it out. But sadly, none around me wanted to. “puttu? In the afternoon (or night)?”, “If you want to have puttu, then why do you need to go to a restaurant”, “It is always crowded”, were just a few excuses I got. I am yet to find the logic with most – if you can have dosas, biryani and meals (traditional south Indian meal of rice and vegetables) at a restaurant, then why not puttu?, if you can have dosa for dinner, then why not puttu?. But the others didn’t seem so convinced of the idea.
Anyway, my dream of having puttu from this restaurant was finally realized when I went there on one of my pregnancy cravings. That day I gorged on delicious vegetable biryani puttu with kadala curry. The puttu was stuffed with vegetables sautéed in spices as in a vegetable biryani, and it was as soft as sand. This, was served with kadala curry or that has a roasted coconut gravy ground with spices. The combination simply took me to food heaven. Needless to say, I over-ate that morning and yet didn’t feel a bit guilty as I was getting happy kicks from a little someone inside me.
Fast forward to two years, I was still trying to convince people around me to accompany me to Dhe Puttu, but it just was not working out. Finally, I succeeded in convincing the husband’s cousins and off we went for dinner. We were a group of nine and as usual there was a crowd waiting for a table. We gave our name to the front desk and waited for our turn. We were told by the front desk staff that we might have to wait for sometime since we were a big group and that he would try his best to get us a table at the earliest. However, we were called in about 15-20 minutes time.
The place has a very rustic and antique look to it. There is no false ceiling and the place has been left as it is without much interior brouhaha. As soon as we were seated we were served the famous sulaimani – a spice infused lemon tea and a basket of pappadam. The names of most puttu are popular film names and the side dish has to be ordered separately. This time around, I ordered the American chopsuey puttu while the others ordered a mix of other varieties – including Amar Akbar Anthony (ordered by the egg loving husband, as it had an omelette as its side), Punjabi House, Kunjikoonan puttu with duck curry, runway puttu, chicken curry and kadala curry.
I didn’t like the fusion mix of American chopsuey and puttu. It just didn’t feel right to me – the saucy flavour and good old puttu – almost like a traditional person trying to go modern. Compared to the American chopsuey puttu, the Punjabi House puttu, which had a filling of paneer and masala, definitely got my vote. The filling was perfect and it blended well with the puttu. The kadala curry, as with my first time experience, was tasty with the roasted coconut and spices ground into a paste and boiled with the kadala. My favourite though, was the free unlimited sulaimani that was being served. I lost count of the glasses I had. With a slight hint of cinnamon, it was soothing, refreshing and flavourful. The chicken curry was better than the duck curry, in terms of flavour and the softness of the meat, and of course, since we were a big group there was a mixed opinion about the food. But, unanimously, we all loved the dining experience we had that day.
This time around, more than the food, I fell in love with the place, the proactive staff and of course, the sulaimani. And I am not yet done. I will still try to convince people to come with me to DhePuttu but next time I am going to stick to the regular ones than fusion puttu and I am sure I will fall in love with it all over again.