When Margaret Pak and her husband Vinod Kalathil visit his hometown in northern Kerala, his mom summons the couple to lunch with the expression “Chorum kariyum kazhikkam,” or “Let’s eat rice and curry,” even if there’s no curry on the table.
“It’s funny,” says Kalathil, “so many people say, ‘Oh, we don’t use the word curry in India, but if you go to southern India pretty much everybody says curry—for anything and everything.”
For sure there will be rice and curry on the table on February 6 when Thattu calls you to the table for the next Monday Night Foodball, the Reader’s weekly chef pop-up at Ludlow Liquors. Ahead of the delayed opening of their long-awaited brick-and-mortar restaurant, Foodball vets Pak and Kalathil are popping up with a taste of what’s for lunch and dinner when the juice starts flowing and the city inspectors give the thumbs up on their future 2900-square-foot space.
Pak’s showcasing chemmeen and kappa, shrimp curry with coconut broth and mashed yucca, tarted up with sun-dried cambodge, aka Malabar tamarind, a souring agent her mother-in-law typically uses with tiny fish. She’s also reprising her pinquinto bean curry with cuminy jeera rice, a riff on the black chickpea kadala curry—a staple from Thattu’s Politan Row days—here made with heirloom legumes native to her native northern California.
But it ain’t just curry and rice. Her fiery batter-free Kerala fried chicken sandwich is on the menu. Pair that with a side of chaat masala-seasoned tots (chaattertots, of course), and you’ve got a bite of a signature from the brick-and-mortar’s lunchtime menu. And you’ll find the yogurt-marinated chicken biryani with basmati rice on the future dinner menu. Finish off with sweet cardamom-kissed, deep fried plantains with creme anglaise, and an essential masala biscuit, the cookie that started it all.
Ludlow barkeeps Joel and Grace will be mixing up Thattu’s Lime Sarbath, a citrusy Collins riff with sherry and Indian sarsaparilla syrup.
Come eat rice and curry—and anything and everything else—with Thattu, starting at 6 PM, Monday, February 6, at Ludlow Liquors, 2959 N. California in Avondale. No preorders. Just walk in and place your order with Kalathil, posted up at the turntables at the back of the bar.
Meanwhile, block out your future Mondays with the full Foodball schedule: