Apart from a mind-boggling variety of seafood, this coastal town in North Kerala fills you with generous helpings of history and culture
Google for grub in Kannur, a prosperous town in northern Kerala, and you’ll get many hits on a lunch-only canteen called Odhen’s, not to mention rapturous rants about the most unbelievably amazing fish meals. So considering that Kannur will soon get an airport and become the next great tourist hotspot of ‘God’s Own Country’ (and a gateway to northern Kerala)I decide to go and sample that internet-viral seafood. I happened to be visiting the coast so it was a short drive along the lush and seemingly endless Muzhappilangad Beach, also known as the drive-in beach since people like to take their cars onto it and race all the way up to the city limits.
I arrive in a town that, at first glance, looks like one big shopping mall. As it is too early for lunch, I start with a late breakfast at the renowned MRA Bakery (Station Road, next to Kannur junction), often suggested as the second-best option if one misses the legendary lunch at Odhen’s. Unlike Odhen’s, it is open from morning to evening and turns out to be a huge air-conditioned complex with a bakery and sweet shop taking up the ground floor, and a restaurant upstairs. So not exactly your standard neighbourhood cake shop.
Typically for morning meals in Kerala, there is mulakittath (₹130), a violently chilli-red but unexpectedly smooth fish curry served with appam (₹10), and the steamed tube-shaped rice flour puttu (₹13). I must stop myself from also ordering a bowl of avial, the distinctive coconut milk-drenched Kerala veggie stew, as I plan to demolish a lavish lunch just a few hours later. But I do gorge on their baklava — the best I’ve tasted outside Turkey (which is the home of baklava): Flaky buttery bite-sized pastries soaked in honey syrup and topped with shredded pistachios. I buy a boxful to carry home...