We might misconstrue him for being someone who just can’t live without meat on his plate, considering the fact that he is from Pala, but No, that's not the case. Finance Minister K.M. Mani's answer to what he likes on his plate is surprising; he prefers lunch on a banana leaf. Mani sir, as he is affectionately called by everyone, is more than delighted to have delicious vegetarian food, according to his loving better half, Kuttiyamma. But this doesn’t mean that he is a complete vegetarian, although the meat consumption is rare and meagre.
Here's a sneak peek into Mani sir’s daily food routine. Milk tea without sugar when he wakes up in the morning, which is around 5.30 am with the accompaniment of almost all the available major newspapers; the number of newspapers goes up to five even. Newspaper reading is followed by a short prayer and exercise, a regular routine.
For breakfast, he prefers either idli or dosa with sambar. If not sambar, white chutney is the next option. To make white chutney, take coconut, green chillies and salt and grind well. Add a simple seasoning of mustard seeds popped in coconut oil to this finely blended paste, and chutney for the finance minister of Kerala is ready to be relished!
For lunch, a stir fry (thoran), curry and bitter gourd theeyal are regular items. Morukari (Buttermilk curry) is another one of of Mani sir's favourites. The red fish curry, usually prepared with seer fish and Malabar tamarind in distinctive Pala-style is the cherry on the cake! The red fish curry is well-known for its irresistible flavour across Kerala. In fact, it is said that once you taste it, the savour lasts on your taste buds for a life time.
Another dish that Mani sir takes to is tapioca puzhukku. Kuttiyamma shares the recipe: Grind onions and green chillies with a pinch of turmeric powder and keep the paste aside. When Tapioca is cooked well, add the ground paste, salt and grated coconut to it. The puzhukku is ready to serve. Like any other native of Pala, tapioca puzhukku with red fish curry is all that is needed to make his day, says Kuttiyamma.
Out of curioosity, what is that special item Kuttiyamma likes to make for her significant other? Pat comes the reply, “vegetable stew”. In Kuttiyamma’s words “the food intake of Mani sir is insufficient and it has always been that way. Now that he has refrained from non vegetarian dishes, there is no point preparing that. He likes vegetables, especially vegetable stew, so I make it quite frequently with thick coconut gravy”.