Chef Regi Mathew presents pickles featuring bird’s eye chili and the Malabar equivalent of maple syrup
Chef Regi Mathew is in the middle of a product photo shoot. Delicately placing a sprig of leaves besides a bottle of bird’s eye chili pickle. The bottle is labelled Kappa Chakka Kandhari, with a subtext that reads ‘a neostalgic gastronomic journey’. Mathew and his team (Augustine Kurian and John Paul, both businessmen) have chosen the word ‘neostalgic’ because they are reviving dishes of yesteryear while making use of new-age techniques like blast freezing ingredients (think jackfruit and tapioca) that are specific to a region. “We have identified ingredients in certain parts of Kerala and also handpicked a team of 10 cooks who make speciality recipes,” says the chef, explaining that Kappa Chakka Kandhari is more than a brand. Starting with Bengaluru on January 29-31, this trio will showcase a host of traditional foods made with tapioca, jackfruit and other ingredients that are available in abundance in Kerala.
In the bottle
At their event, you will be able to sample dishes like vattu kappayum thottu meenum (par boiled, sundried tapioca with freshwater fish) from the Meenachil region and kappayum porkum elayil chuttathu (banana leaf-wrapped pork and tapioca) from Kottayam. This, in addition to having access to bottled delights ranging from pickles to jams and even a local alternative to maple syrup. “It is called paani and is made using the toddy before it ferments. Around 15 litres has to be condensed to create a small portion of it,” he says, about the honey-like syrup that is a traditional accompaniment to puttu. His list of pickles includes the fiery kandhari achar made with bird’s eye chili, among other favourites like beef and fish. Their other preservative-free bottled products like dried bananas in honey and roasted coconut powdered with spices and tamarind (aka veppilakatti) will also vie for attention. Besides these delicacies made by chef Mathew’s team of cooks, you can also expect speciality products like Kunju’s Jam Rolls, sourced directly from Kochi, where they are made with a recipe dating back to the time of the British.
The idea is to take this to several cities over time. And while their Chennai launch was dampened by the recent rains (they hope to reschedule in a couple of months), we advise you to book your bottles online before heading to the Bengaluru event at St John’s Auditorium. They are after all, only making limited numbers.
— Ryan Peppin