A signature Mannade song streams in; it is a joyous one that the maestro is heard singing, going down the memory lane with long lost friends and recollecting those beautiful evenings spent in the Coffee House in their company. Here is what the soulful lyrics of the song translates to: “There are no gatherings of friends anymore; where have the golden evenings vanished to, they will not be here anymore, not anymore...”
Coffee House still stands tall, in memory of many friendships and unforgettable conversations. And we all know of the little love story that lurks around the kitchens of the Coffee Houses across the country, like the efflorescent love between celluloid pairs like Nazir and Sheela, Menaka and Shankar, Mohanlal and Urvasi, and even Dulquar and Nithya Menen! This saga is just as beautiful as any of them. Yes, it is the timeless love between the gorgeous Beetroot and the Indian Coffee House!
Think Indian Coffee House and instantly the thought goes to the purple masala dosa that they serve. The beetroot finds its way to cutlets and sabji for poori as well at the Coffee House. When talking of the Indian Coffee House in Kerala, most of them have an enviable patronage. The Coffee House at Mullakkal in Alleppy is always flooded with people. Locals and tourists visit this restaurant for the best food that is said to be unadulterated and pure in the locality. From vegetable cutlets to beef biriyanis, 49 different types of dishes are available here. 21 assorted drinks, from coffee to Sharjah shake are also available here, at the famous Indian Coffee House.
You can sip your coffee and sit here for hours. No matter what you order, a mutton omelette or just a humble cup of coffee, the attention you receive from the staff would be just the same. The younger generation of the Cafe Coffee Day breed are missing out on this very charm! The Coffee House friendship groups weren't merely big cliques; they were a bunch of like-minded people who shared the same wavelength, and had similar opinions, dreams and likes. Coffee houses were a platform for them to come together and share their views.
Meeting up at Indian Coffee House, sipping a cup of coffee, munching on some Bombay toasts or cutlets, and talking about politics, philosophy and cinema for many hours—that's the drift. If the coffee house in Calcutta was visited by intellectuals like Tagore and Jyoti Basu, the walls of the one in Allappuzha have witnessed great souls like Thakazhi and Pala Narayana Panikkar. Businessmen at the famous Mullakkal Street in Allappuzha have always been regular visitors at the coffee house, and they still hold their meetings for jest here. Indian Coffee House has nearly ten outlets in Allappuzha, and it is one of the biggest restaurant chains in the city today. Indian Coffee House has never been just another coffee shop, it has always been a culture in itself.
So coming back to the Indian Coffee House's tryst with beetroot, nobody has a correct answer to that. But history has some things to tell us. Indian Coffee House began in the early 1940s. During that time, food and clothing were provided to people by the government on ration. It was the time when two world wars had severely tipped the socio-economic balance in India. Beetroot was one of the most readily available products during that time. Beetroot was also available at cheaper rates when compared to other vegetables and fruits. It is believed that this was one of the foremost reasons why beetroot became a popular vegetable at Indian Coffee House outlets.
That is how, the beetroot became a signature Coffee House vegetable, savoured by many of its customers. As for the conversations and groups, one can only hope for the younger people to hold strong to their native taste buds, and not exchange them for an American/Mexican/Italian set.