The Naadan Kitchen delivers Kerala food in Delhi-NCR

Two entrepreneurial lads have brought us the joy of Kerala food to Delhi, with coconut, chillies, and more than a whiff of home

A photograph of a food-laden table — gleefully forwarded by the partaker of the meal — kept me busy for a few hours last week. The food, I was told, had come from a new Kerala delivery service called The Naadan Kitchen, based in Ghaziabad. I asked for the number (7042255534, 81530384084, 0120-4348258), called them up — and was happy with the first information report: They had various kinds of Kerala dishes, including all kinds of meat; and they were willing to deliver to my neighbourhood.

I was happier still with the food — which I had over two glorious days. We asked for some Malabari parottas, pothu fry, duck curry, and a vegetable thhali, which consisted of red rice, aviyal, thoran, sambar, moru curry, pickle and payasam. I paid a total of ₹1,300 for all this.

The next day, Nadaan’s founder, a young man called Elvin Joseph, insisted that I try out a small portion of his fried pork and chicken biryani.

But let me start at the beginning. The Naadan Kitchen ( emerged out of a conversation that two friends were having one day, a couple of months ago. One of them was a chef, who had come to Delhi before the lockdown to visit his family, and then stayed back, as his restaurant in Bengaluru shut shop. The other was a marketing executive. They talked about food, and then suddenly thought: Hey, why not start delivering food?

So they created a logo — a picturesque image of a Kerala boat and a coconut tree — and then drew up the menu. They started the service on August 15. Elvin looks after marketing while Bejoi Chemparathy takes care of the kitchen. The food has the authentic flavours of Kerala cuisine, so much so that a young man we know said he was reminded of his childhood in Kerala when he had the food.

Duck curry at The Naadan Kitchen

Thankfully, it didn’t remind me of my childhood in Muzaffarnagar, but it gave me great joy. The pothu – buffalo meat (₹500 for half a kilo) – had been fried with peppercorns, curry leaves, and a few spices and garnished with fried coconut. I enjoyed it immensely for the meat had soaked in all the flavours of the spices, but wasn’t red chilli hot. The parotta (₹15 for one) was soft, warm and flaky.

I enjoyed the thhali — especially the aviyal, a combination of juicy vegetables in southern spices, and the fragrant sambar, which I had with the red rice. Best of all was the payasam, the ada pradhaman, which was creamy and had been cooked with rice flakes. We shared this with friends who had come for lunch and quietly kept the duck for dinner.

The duck mappas (₹500 for a quarter) was divine. It had been cooked with small onions, ginger, garlic,

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The Secret Garden: Classic-tale tinkering delivers disappointing results

The Secret Garden (PG, 100 mins) Directed by Marc Munden **½

Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1911 novel The Secret Garden, originally published in New York in serial form, has been adapted for the big screen many times. Most recently, and well remembered, in 1993 by the astonishing Polish director Agnieszka Holland. Holland’s version stuck fairly close to the page, but conjured up some beautifully designed cinematography, turning the qualities of light and shade into virtual characters in themselves.

English director Marc Munden, best known for the TV series Utopia, takes a slightly more literal approach to the problem of visualising Burnett’s world, throwing a lot of computer-generated imagery at the screen to bring the fantastical garden and its attendant house to life.

The story of orphaned Mary, sent back to England to live with her reclusive, hunchbacked uncle and his bedridden son, discovering a walled garden within the estate that seems to have healing properties, has been wonderfully receptive to any interpretation and re-imagining that generations of adaptors and re-writers have cared to chuck at it.

Too much tinkering with the original story makes this The Secret Garden a disappointing adaptation.

Studio Canal

Too much tinkering with the original story makes this The Secret Garden a disappointing adaptation.

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Munden, working from a script by Jack Thorne (Wonder), sets his Secret Garden in 1947, referred to in the prologue credits as “the time of the India/Pakistan partition”. Which is fine, for an adult audience who might have been taught a little history at school, and may even see a few of the parallels Thorne and Munden indulge in, between the beginning of the endgame of the British empire, and this colonisers’ fable of lost innocents finding solace and salvation in an unspoiled, hidden paradise. But, for an audience of children, which is surely who The Secret Garden is primarily intended for, it struck me as another layer of obfuscation draped over a plot-line already struggling to remain visible.

Munden’s film changes a lot from the book. Not just the setting, but he also eliminates entire characters, turns what were once dreams into full-blown supernatural events and makes the garden into an otherly, not-of-this-Earth place. And yet, frustratingly, all this tinkering adds precisely nothing to the already near-perfect story.

Colin Firth isn’t given much to do in The Secret Garden, apart from lend his name to the movie’s marketing campaign.

Studio Canal

Colin Firth isn’t given much to do in The Secret Garden, apart from lend his name to the movie’s marketing campaign.

In the leads, Dixie Egerickx (Patrick Melrose) is great as the initially dislikeable Mary – though the early obnoxiousness of the character is toned down a lot here – while the Brit-film mixed doubles all-star team of Colin Firth and Julie Walters don’t really have a lot to do except lend their name to the marketing campaign. Both are absolutely OK in underwritten roles, but seriously, a couple

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