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    Eli’s Kitchen is the new destination for home made Kerala buffets, pastas and salads

    Barely a fortnight ago, when a friend offered Liz Thottan a terraced space overlooking the sea on Beach Road, it was the answer to Thottan’s long-cherished dream—of opening a restaurant where she could whip up the famous beef cutlets she caters in Mahabalipuram, besides other signatures dishes.  She opened the rooftop café, Eli’s Kitchen, last Sunday—the only restaurant serving Kerala cuisine in the area. A quaint earthy shack-like space, the café is endearing with a thatched roof, brick walls, blue flooring, cane furniture, an open kitchen with a view of the sea. “I even have a bar counter, though I don’t intend to serve alcohol. The idea is a place for my friends to sit and talk to me while I’m cooking ,” smiles the 44-year old, who worked at the travel desk at Taj Group of Hotels earlier, before helping set up Ente Keralam in 2006. She also had her own home stay and hostel at Anna Nagar, called Cocoon and Liz’s Hostel respectively, before love of surfing brought her to Mahabalipuram.
    Kitchen stories
    Thottan’s specialties include a typical Syrian Christian buffet comprising traditional Kerala curries on the weekends, and healthy soups, salads and pastas on weekdays. “The regular Malayali erisseri is made with red gram, but I do mine using green gram. It is a huge draw with my crowd. My other specials include flour-roasted chicken doused in a chilli garlic gravy, beef and pork roast, my own pasta with home-made white sauce, pulliserries (mango or yam seasoned with yoghurt and spices), and Kerala fish curry with Kerala rice,” she says, adding that she makes her own patties for her burgers by mincing beef, mushrooms and peppers together. Her vegetables are home grown and she decides her daily menu based on the fresh produce available.
    Home coming
    Her restaurant opening was  designed to sync with  Mahabs’ Surf Classic that happened last week, and her first batch of visitors included local surfers, musicians, expats and a lot of friends who drove down to be part of the grand opening. “My partner, Shiva Chekkath, and I run the hotel like a home. We interact with the visitors and I cook all the dishes myself, while he serves them. When people come in to eat my food, I should be the one making them,” she smiles.  “My desserts include nutella pancakes, my friend Aarushi Haksar’s red velvet cake and my  own ilaneer payasam,” she says, adding that she whips up juices with aloe vera—like aloe vera lassi, mango shake with aloe vera and her detox juice (carrot, beetroot and amla). Inquire about her future plans and Thottan says she is quite happy with her little rooftop restaurant. “I cook for my customers all day, and go surfing in the evenings—two things I love the most. I’m living my dream,” she signs off.
    Kerala weekend buffet priced at Rs 350  from 12 pm onwards. On weekdays, it is  open from 9 am. Details: 9840740840
    Niranjana Hariharanandanan

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