Amato mio and I have been living in Kerala for eight days now, and right from the start, it felt like home!
Of course the weather is glorious; as I sit here in Alleppey (we’re here for a week before moving into our apartment in Fort Kochi on the 22nd), overlooking the beach, it is 30c/86f with enough cloud cover to make it not too hot to sit outside! And like the weather, the people both here and in Fort Kochi are warm, sunny, friendly, kindly folk, always ready to help in any way they can.
In addition to the above, Fort Kochi food is nothing short of amazing! Indian food in general has always been up there in my top three cuisines, and during our time in the UK, we had a Keralan restaurant close by, which gave us a taste for South Indian food. It’s fair to say that it played a part in our decision to live in this part of India!
Perhaps the most wonderful aspect to the food here is that there is an abundance of vegetarian cuisine, possibly more veggie food than meaty stuff. Being on the coast, there is also a wealth of seafood – amato mio and I are well-catered for! Some of the dishes are very spicy (I had my first spicy vegetable korma the other evening – almost blew my head off!) but cooks will tone it down if you ask them. Something else which is absolutely great is that at most cafés and restaurants, the food is cooked fresh, from scratch. Of course, the trade-off is that it can take up to an hour for your meal to arrive but it’s always well worth the wait. We’ve learned to not go out for food when we’re really hungry – far better to go when we are starting to get peckish!
The exception to this seems to be the larger restaurants, particularly those attached to high-end hotels. Although the food is very good, it appears that they keep batches of generic sauces on the go, and just add other ingredients as necessary. There’s nothing wrong with this, and of course, it does mean that food is brought to the table relatively quickly but we prefer to eat at smaller, independent places – such as homestays – where we can see the food being cooked (which is a huge bonus for me!), and where it is cooked to our tastes!
Another brilliant thing about eating here is that we can wander down to the sea front, buy freshly-caught fish and seafood, and then take it to a restaurant or café close by, where they will cook it for us! There are several which offer this service. Really, this is great!
Over the next few months, I’ll be posting reviews of local eateries, and of course, regale you with my attempts to re-create some of these wonderful dishes (wish me luck!); do sign up for updates so you don’t miss out!