Down the memory lane, Kozhikode city has always been a special destination in the month of Ramadan. The city is celebrated as one of the prime locations in Kerala state for its hospitality and local cultural advancement. Ramadan has been a celebration of food, love, fraternity, charity, and spirituality for all walks of people in the city. The nights are turned into days; the city enjoys many passionate faces and loving friendships on the beach sides or at a coffee shop and restaurants.
Due to the outbreak of Covid-19, the colourful Iftar gatherings were stopped in Kozhikode. The city had always been a hotspot for hosting the best iftar parties in the state for many years. Either you are a foodie or fond of tasting a variety of foodstuffs, Kozhikode is the best destination, especially in Ramadan. Evenings during Ramadan in Kozhikode come alive as cooks with pushcarts fry up a rich range of snacks for enthusiastic, hungry crowds. Kozhikode beach on a Ramadan evening is calm, but the people are curiously agog.
As the skies darken, several pushcarts line up slowly. Sarbath bottles and pickle jars are brought out, and stoves are lit to brew Sulaimani, black tea. Dark green mussels caught from the sea earlier in the day are stuffed with rice flour mixture and lowered into a pan of sizzling oil. Within minutes, the glass jars kept on the carts are filled with onion pakoras, kallumakai (stuffed and fried mussels), kada mutta (spiced quail eggs), and mutta patani (scrambled eggs and green peas). With it, a wave of hungry people storms in to the beach-side and shacks to break their day-long fast. Restaurants lay out a display of iftar specials, including the customary thari kanji (porridge made of semolina) and kulukki sarbath. The next to come is a variety of pathris like irachi pathri, athishaya pathri, and chatti pathri, which are layered pancakes made of maida and egg, sometimes stuffed with minced meat or sugar and coconut. Now Kozhikode beach is empty and food vendors are rarely seen.
One of the not-to-be-missed destinations while exploring iftar in Kozhikode is Adaminde Chayakada that serves over a hundred varieties of predominantly non-vegetarian dishes. With a kitschy façade and experimental street-smart recipes, the place is a favourite spot among food lovers. Even the names of the items are funky. For instance, chicken pottitherichathu (meaning ‘blasted chicken’) is a batter-fried chicken but has become the highlight of the iftar platter due to it’s interesting name. You can pick a bamboo muram (winnow), load it to your heart’s content, and unleash the glutton in you. Kuttichira is another place to be during Ramadan. There is a food street here that serves up special Ramadan items; new shops and dishes crop up for the season. You must try a dish called kilikoodu, which translates as “bird‘s nest” – a preparation made with the egg that has been beaten into a batter containing potato, vermicelli and onions, and fried further.
These are sweet memories of anybody who once witnessed Ramadan life in Kozhikode. All the celebrations in Ramadan 2020 are limited at homes and flats only. The believers moreover depend on homely food and serve it among the family members. Having no guests for iftar is the very rare experience for the people in Kozhikode. No barriers of religion, caste, and so on for sharing love and friendship in this city. For many years many non-Muslims in Kozhikode are fasting in the month of Ramadan enlightening the plural fraternity of a harmonious brotherhood among the different sects of the people. Spiritual gatherings are set up online and religious leaders lead many regular Ramadan broadcasts and programmes so that hundreds of families at their homes participate. Charity activities reaching out the poor people are also less comparatively compared to the previous years.
Fighting Covid-19, the believers in Ramadan strictly follow government’s recommendations and keep social distancing. Masjids, the centres of spiritual programmes in Ramadan are kept empty and have cancelled all social gatherings. As the central government has extended the nationwide lockdown, put in to contain the Covid-19 outbreak, by two more weeks, Kozhikode city has been in the orange zone so that it is expected that the whole Ramadan life this year will be restricted.