Veg Uthappam

“Every morning at 11am, all I can think is ‘veg uthappam, veg uthappam’. Trust me, it’s amazing.” I don’t know whether I can trust my friend’s judgment on this particular matter. She is currently undergoing some sort of ayurvedic cleanse that seems to consist primarily of massages, eating special food twice daily, and donning a special outfit: a hilarious kelly green fifties-style bathrobe paired with an orange bathing cap-meets-yarmulka; a requisite tikka on her forehead and similar mud-dot on her neck. Of course, this description betrays my ignorance of ayurvedic treatments and there might very well be meaningful reasons behind the interesting get-up. Regardless, to me the whole ensemble leaves her looking like a slightly deranged soap star wandering the green guesthouse grounds waiting to be called to set. It’s a tribute to her natural beauty (and perhaps the cleanse?) that she manages to look totally radiant in spite of this. Still, I’m wary of her praise of the uthappam. It might very well be warranted or it may simply be the effects of whatever radiation is surely seeping out from that green robe.

Venturing down to the Lonely Planet restaurant – yes, that is the actual name – I choose one of the many available red and white checkered cloth tables positioned near the lili-padded pond. Through the low lime green fence between the me and the water I can see catfish swimming around catching the latest bits of food that the kitchen staff has tossed their way. I order the uthappam in the silent restaurant and dive into my book while I wait, happy to be here during low-season with the place to myself. Quiet.

Arriving on a thali-style silver dish, a rice pancake housing orange and green veggies inside lies flat in front of four recesses filled, respectively, with carrot chutney, sambar and korma. I immediately chuck aside the unnecessary cutlery and rip into the hot pancake with both hands. The light rice dough (green-light for the gluten intolerant, three cheers!) filled with small sauteed pieces of peppers, carrots and onions is subtle in taste, a sturdy vehicle for piling on the sauces. Mix and match yellow, orange and white as you please and get messy. Food finger-painting at its finest, making edible creations. Eat your work.

For sensitive tummies, this Kerala breakfast food is a light way to go authentically Indian first thing in the morning. From my solitary morning with the finger food, I conclude two things. One, I still want another pancake to paint with. Two, while it appears that my friend’s odd attire has had little affect on her culinary taste, it serves to encourage my suspicions of any health-care routine that requires such a look.


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