We, in India, following the COVID19 pandemic, are being slowly conditioned into an ‘unlock’ plan by the government. On November 1st, which incidentally is Kerala Piravi or Kerala Day, was also the day our beaches were opened to the public after eight months of restrictions.
Alappuzha beach , with its picturesque stretch of coastline has a magnetic force that draws locals and passers-by in droves.
Alappuzha is a well planned city that lies between Vembanad Lake and the Arabian Sea. It was economically significant in the spice trade for a long time. A port was founded in 1762 for the export of coir-matting and coir-yarn. Alleppey coir yarn has been GI certified since 2007.
The lighthouse built on the coast of the city is the first of its kind along the Laccadive Sea coast. It was first lit in 1862 and is still a manned station! Surprisingly, Alappuzha beach hosts a beach festival and sand art festival. (Surprising cause it isn’t considered the most progressive of cities). A canal system helped bring in goods to port from the backwaters and encouraged an entourage of traders from Surat, Mumbai and Kutch, who eventually, chose to make Alleppey home.
The beach here is always teeming with people. For an Alleppey native, it is the go-to place that provides free entry, a meeting ground for friends, more-than-friends, souls on the path of enlightenment and general tomfoolery.
In the evenings , when the light starts to dim and the sun starts to set, an artist’s palette creates a riot of colours; a whirlwind of consciousness. The gas fires from the ‘undhu vandi‘ (carts), the calls of the ice cream vendors and the king of Alappuzha beach snacks ( yes, such a snack exists) the glorious, humungously satisfying “Baji“. This coated-in-batter, deep-fried street food is at the zenith of recreational activities in this setting.
It is a truth universally acknowledged (or a truth that the whole of Alleppey knows), that even if burgers & fries and Arabian delicacies are mushrooming in every nook and cranny, the baji guy😎 is the ever-present ,doller-out of the best snack for introspective sunset vibes.
A cup of chai ( not coffee) is the final touch. My friend @aparnasramblings may graciously disagree (but we all know which is better 😜).
The tea is of various kinds: black tea with ‘karipetti‘, the sweet milky one and even a ‘sulaimani‘. But the baji, oh the baji ! Cauliflower, banana peppers (baji chilly), thinly sliced raw banana, eggs- we are spoilt for choices. A tomato chutney (that seems a mite confusing to replicate) is poured on top and voila! A feast for the taste buds. Sophisticated it’s not, but definitely touches all the right places of my tummy!
I’m wondering if any you are now waiting for a recipe? Not coming! This baji has to come with beach. That tea has to accompany it. The setting is the hero in this one. So, what’s your favourite snack setting?