restaurant is a familiar sight for everyone passing on the
Vellayambalam - Vazhuthacaud road. Situated on the roadside, just in
front of 'Cotton Hill Heights' apartment building is the famed no-frills
restaurant, which used to be a regular spot for the likes of Padmarajan
and John Abraham. The menu card at Nikunjam isn't a very long one, but
whatever your options are, feel assured that you will be served with the
“We have been in the field for thirty years. And for the last
twenty-five years it has been the same cook overlooking the functioning
of the kitchen,” says K Manoj Kumar, owner of Nikunjam.
The restaurant, just like any other small restaurant with a reputation
for its unique taste rather than ambience, has most of its business
happening through take aways. When Nikunjam introduced Chinese dishes in
the locality, it had created quite a stir among the foodies of that
time. It could be said that the craze for Chinese food that the urban
community in Trivandrum has today, owes its appetite to pioneers like
“It is not just the cook, most of our staff has remained the same for the last three decades. It is like a family in here.”
Sashikumar, the cook, has been creating culinary delights in the kitchen
at Nikunjamfor the past twenty five years . It was his skill that made
the Chilly Beef at Nikunjam a trending topic among food lovers of all
age groups and social group. Yet, the man remains humble, or even maybe
plain ignorant, of the remarkability of his dishes.
“I just follow what my master, Varghese , has taught me. He also used to
say that I had a lucky touch when it comes to making food. I think the
combination of the training I received from my master and the lucky
charm he spoke about is what that has made our Chilly Beef and Chilly
Chicken special” says Sashikumar
What is important while introducing new dishes from across borders is
whether its taste would suitably live up to the demanding taste buds of
the local population. Chinese food, in it authentic form would be hardly
palatable to the spice craving average Malayali. Like remakes of other
language films, the dishes would be accepted only if it has been nicely
The Chilly Beef - and this goes the same for the Chilly Chicken as well -
served at Nikunjam has in it, the requisite amount of spice, which will
tease your tongue into savoring the saucy variant taste that has
arrived from across the land.
The best combination to have with the Chilly dishes is Parotta. Many
advice against consuming Parotta and maybe for the right reasons too.
But for this kind of epicurean experience it is worth living on the
edge, once in a while, or for everyday for the ones who live to eat
first and everything else for later.
“The restaurant opens at 8:30 in the morning. Closing time varies. Nine
is the standard time, but most days we are closed early because the food
is over by then. It has been a long time since we had to worry about
the left over food. On the contrary, the challenge is to meet with the
orders,” smiles K Manoj Kumar.
While Chilly Chicken and Chilly Beef rule at Nikunjam, the various other
chicken and beef dishes – the fries and curries – are more or less on
par with the chilly dishes. So even though it is recommended to have a
taste of the Chilly Chicken and Chilly Beef at Nikunjam, you could order
any of the dishes that make up the menuand rest assured that you are in
for a real treat.
This is why you often find quite a few of the people lining up outside
the restaurant, placing orders specifying that the parcels need to be
neatly secured because those parcels will be travelling to Chennai/
Bangalore/ Kochi … wherever non-resident natives of Trivandrum bond over
the taste of Nikunjam’s Chilly Beef and Chilly Chicken.