Parotta, chicken and egg – these are the three things that sustain and excite a traveller while crossing the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border, apart from the view. Border Parotta is a small eatery located on the Tamil Nadu side of the border that offers an amazing culinary experience.
The famous food stop, which sells thousands of parottas and hundreds of chickens every day, had a humble beginning. Their journey started in 1956, when the borders of several Indian states were redrawn, giving birth to states like Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Toll booths came up along the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border. Truck and bus drivers stopped to pay their toll, and along with the passengers of the buses, would look for a quick and filling meal.
The centre of attraction
Eateries sprung up near the toll booths. Tenkasi in Tamil Nadu had a series of hole-in-the-wall eateries catering to drivers, helpers, conductors along with busloads of passengers. They munched on a quick meal of parotta and chicken.
This basic meal of parotta and chicken continued at the shacks for almost two decades, until Mohammed Hassan stepped in to start the magic. The year was 1974 and Hassan started his food shack, named Hotel Rahmath, and the culinary saga began. The small shack started attracting crowds, which went well beyond passengers, drivers and conductors.
The stall caters to scores everyday
Today, the toll booth has gone, and so have the other food shacks. But Hassan’s Hotel Rahmath still stands, feeding thousands of hungry souls every day, many of them arriving in luxury cars. Run by his two sons, the name has changed to Border Rahmath Parotta Stall, but is popularly and simply called Border Parotta.
Today a tri-lingual board of Tamil, Malayalam and English welcomes visitors to the famous parotta stall. Although the eatery still has its rustic look, it has grown in size. The eating area is divided into two, separated by a lane, where about a dozen people prepare the parottas.
The interiors are laid with long tables with stools on either side. Food is served on banana leaves. There are no menu cards. A menu in Tamil hangs on the wall. Below the menu is a photograph of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam at the eatery. It was a favourite haunt of the president. People looking for fine-dining or concerned with hygiene, may not be too impressed with the facilities.
The menu is simple and only consists of a hand full of items. The parotta is obviously the centre of attraction. Next comes the chicken item, consisting of pepper chicken (fried chicken with a dash of pepper), tandoori chicken and shredded chicken. Whole fried koyel birds are also on the menu. A variety of eggs are available. They consist of fried egg and scrambled egg (both deep and shallow fried).
The interior is laid with long tables with stools on either side
If you want to switch things up, you can replace the parotta with a dosa. The dosa is an egg dosa, where the batter consists of an egg mix. Sadly, there are no desserts on the menu. But one can end the meal with a plate of freshly cut seasonal fruits. So, the next time you are in the southern part of Tamil Nadu, do visit the Border Parotta to experience the most amazing non-veg meal, and think twice before you say Tamil food is all about idli and dosas!