Thoppu Varuval, Erode

This is the second or third time I am visiting a restaurant like this, quite popular in and around Salem and Erode. It is known by various names – Sattikari, Manpaanai samayal, Naattukozhi Unavagam, and so on. Saravana Naattukozhi Unavagam in Attur was the first time I experienced something like this.

These restaurants are typically located on the outskirts, mostly like a Dhaba on a highway. The speciality of these places is the country chicken that they cook. They do not have an elaborate menu like regular restaurants, instead, they prepare and serve a ‘full’ Naattukozhi meals.
I’ll tell you briefly what you can expect. Firstly, based on the number of people and your apetite, decide the number of chickens you’ll need. The guy will help to decide on this one. While they start to cook, you can expect these items in the same order as they are being cooked – Soup, Dry chicken Fry, and finaly Chicken Gravy. The chicken is cooked without any extra masala and the flavor is just from the dry chillies and other spices that they use. The woodfire and the earthenware adds to the native village experience. You can get into the kitchen and take a detaield look at what is being done. In addition to these chicken dishes, you’ll get rasam and curds.
One thing worth a mention is that generally consumption of liquor goes hand-in-hand with these type of restaurants. Its an experience by itself. However, this time, they seemed to have a lot of restrictions about liquor consumption, so we decided to hit some wine shop and come back for dinner. Well, I would say the excitement was half lost!
Coming to the food, it tasted pretty good. It has to be eaten hot, and certainly will not taste like the typical restaurant dishes because of minimal spices used, its more like home-cooked food. Rasam was a pleasant surprise, in fact, I’ve never heard about something like this. It was called ‘Pachcha Puli Rasam’, and what was special was, it was not cooked/boiled at all. It was just a mix of tamarind water, onions, coriander, etc at room temperature and was more like pani puri water. 🙂 Curds, was tempered with dry chillies, shallots and tasted very good. Generous amounts of rice with Chicken gravy was also very tasty! Overall, a wonderful meal, except the disappointment of not being able to have a sip of a drink with it. We finished with an icecream, they had Tutti-Fruitty and Vanilla flavors, pretty decent!
This is a unique experience which people in Chennai may not have seen. If you’re in and around Salem, Attur or Erode, inquire for such places, I’m sure you’ll find plenty of them, and experience very different style of cooking and tasty Naattukozhi Meals !