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Kerala

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  1. A little taste of Kerala

    Aw, thank you, @sartoric! If you ever go back to Kerala, and it looks like you will, I hope I've given you a few ideas.
  2. Berlin Restaurants

    We're off to Berlin for a weekend break in September. I will read through this thread, but does anyone have any more recent recommendations? My wife likes sweet, I like savoury. Currywurst from a shack, got it!
  3. A little taste of Kerala

    On the last day but one, the children dragged me to the KFC at Lu Lu Mall, a huge air-conditioned 21st century retail construction. I was grumbling all next day, but on the last night I made up for it by ordering two meals at the same time from one of the Mall food court shops, Vazhayila. The name means banana leaf, and their gimmick is cooking everything in banana leaf. Steaming in banana leaves is a fairly traditional approach, but these people have truly done something innovative with this: Vazhayella biriyani! (In the middle ground in the photograph below) The green banana flavour steams through the biriyani, and when you open the packet the aroma is incredible. The "side" plate was chicken cooked in an earthenware pot, delicious in its own right. Plenty to share, but I was eating with vegetarian in-laws and my children who don't really like hot food. Every cloud, no matter how dark, has a silver lining. I stopped my moaning, to the relief of the wife and children. Not a bad end to a fabulous two weeks.
  4. A little taste of Kerala

    More from the Taj: Podi (powder) idli. Apple, vanilla ice cream and banana Fish tikka Fancy food... As always, fantastic seafood.
  5. A little taste of Kerala

    Sorry for the long pause. Back home and back at work. @sartoric , the actual wedding ceremonies were quite short. We had a religious ceremony at Bhaktivedanta Manor in Hertfordshire, the Hare Krishna temple donated by George Harrison. This lasted a couple of hours. The following day we had a civil ceremony in Shendish Manor, which is nearby. However, the various pre-wedding celebrations and post-wedding receptions in England and then India took place over 2 weeks. I only started on this mini-blog after the main events, just because I was seeing all this fantastic food and wanted to share it here! I’ve tried to use pictures taken by me or my immediate family, and the pictures have been of country or “nadan” style food. Some of the group spent a lot of time at the Taj hotels in Cochin and Trivandrum. The food is much more expensive, much better plated, very tasty and inoffensive to international palates. That may sound like damning with faint praise, but actually it is very good. Here’s a taste: Meen pollichathu, fish steamed in banana leaf. The good looking young man is not me. Crab 4 ways. Kulfi, ice cream and a chocolate brownie, perhaps. Beetroot idli!
  6. Beef Bacon- has anyone made this?

    @cakewalkBoy, Kerala beef fry is a BIG thing. Basically it's a dry stir fried preparation with small cubed beef pieces, lots of ground coconut, onions and various spices. It's fairly hot. You could have it with rice or chappathi. It is very popular in Kerala, and even people who wouldn't normally eat any beef seem to give this a Pass sometimes. There has been a good bit of resistance to beef consumption in recent years but Kerala is still one of the places in India where you can buy beef fairly freely. Like a lot of Kerala meat dishes, the meat is very thoroughly cooked through. It is delicious. Does it taste like bacon? No.
  7. A little taste of Kerala

    The crust is not from a tempura/a la romana style batter. Spices- mainly chilli powder, perhaps some turmeric and pepper- are mixed into a paste with lemon juice or lime juice, and used as a brief marinade for the prawns. The prawns are then fried in coconut oil which may have been tempered with chillies and a few mustard seeds. Curry leaves can be added. The marinade provides the bits of crust but it is not a complete covering layer. If you do what I've just suggested you'll get a very tasty plate of prawns even if it is not exactly authentic. The coconut oil really provides a marvellous Keralan taste! I am so glad everyone is enjoying this. The photographs are from just a few days, after the main celebrations, when I thought I'd document and share the few remaining meals. Some of the photographs are from my daughters and my better half, the groom and various members of my family, which is why we have different formats and resolutions. I'm afraid I don't have very many more to share.
  8. A little taste of Kerala

    A trip on the Kayal. The Kayal is the backwater system that runs just inland along the coast of Kerala. It has brackish water but is no longer tidal. The system is largely man-made, a waterway transport system that is also essential for agriculture, coir production, irrigation and farming of crustaceans and fish. The house boats are based upon working transport boats which used to carry spices, coir and fish along the length of Kerala. We took an afternoon’s circuit on one of these boats and it comfortably carried fifteen of us with plenty of room. You can charter a boat for a four-day trip from Cochin to Alleppey, watching life glide by, sipping a beer and chatting. If you get the chance, this is one experience I would highly recommend, especially if you want some peace and quiet on your holiday. The bedrooms on the boat were clean, spacious and comfortable, with air-conditioning and en-suite facilities. Anyway, on to the important stuff! One of the main benefits is stopping along the way to choose fresh-caught fish, crabs and prawns. Have some fresh coconut while you wait. Lunch being served. From right to left along the table, thoren, chappatthi, sliced onions and lemons, a fish curry, some veg, fried fish. The prawns from the catch above... Prawns... Up close and personal... Fried fish. Crab garnished with corriander. This was definitely not a part of my childhood, as this kind of experience was just not available growing up. I remember watching the transport boats pass by from the shore as a little boy. The Kayal is still an honest working waterway. The life along the shore seems stuck in the 1970's- neither entirely a good thing nor bad. The food is fresh, traditionally prepared and delicious. I'm looking forward to doing the four day trip some time when I come back.
  9. A little taste of Kerala

    Bugger, I really have not got on top of this photo-uploading lark. The post looked so pretty in preparation... Please wait while I try and sort this out. Sorry folks, that's the best I can do at the moment!
  10. A little taste of Kerala

    Once again lunch at my mother’s. These days when in India she mainly supervises the servants until they make it like she would. She’s nearly eighty now and just doesn’t have the enthusiasm to prepare food with quite the same attention to detail on a daily basis. The food definitely tastes as though she cooked it, and the distinction is clear and consistent between food prepared under her roof and that prepared at her sisters’ houses. Thoran. There are many types of thoran, but beans thoran is the template, and this is it. Stir fried with ground coconut, curry leaves, mustard seeds, chillies… I’ve never cooked this so I won’t comment further. Vendakka mezhukupuratti. Okra stir-fried. Okra is called “ladies’ finger” in Indian English. Not slimy at all in this preparation. Again, with grated coconut and much other stuff. Way beyond my expertise. Fried prawns. These are sea-prawns. They’re smaller than the freshwater ones in the previous post, but not tiny. The taste is very similar. There’s a huge industry farming freshwater prawns in the Kayal, the back-waters around Cochin. Sambar. I just cannot emphasise enough the importance of sambar in Malayali cooking and the Kerala psyche. It's a kind of stew with muringakka (drumstick), okra/ladies' finger, tomato, yams, gourds, marrow and various other vegetables. Typically it is not very hot, but it has a very spiced taste. It is absolutely idiomatic, the one thing every cook in Kerala will be able to prepare without thinking about it at all. Absolutely beyond my reach as a cook, and I've never tried to prepare it. It can be eaten with rice, appam, idli, dosa, vada... Here’s a picture off all the above along with some chicken curry on my plate. 3 veg and 2 non-veg. See how much I’m willing to suffer for eGullet? Actually the vegetables tasted great with the rest of the food. I really should try more of this…
  11. A little taste of Kerala

    Menu Appam-8 Chicken biriyani- 130 Beef biriyani- 130 Kappa (Tapioca)- 40 Kappa Biriyani -130 (beef) -150 (chicken) Idiyappam (string hoppers)- 8 Chappatti- 10 Parotta- 10 Coconut shell Puttu- 20 Mackerel with chilli )90-120 Mackerel with grated coconut ) Kera fish with chilli- 100-130 Karimeen (Kingfish) Vattattharachathu curry- AS PER SIZE Beef roast (fry)- 120 Chicken Vattawuttharachathu - 130 Chicken Roast- 150 Chicken Fry- 140 Chicken Varattiyathu (Fry)- 160 Duck Curry- 170 Poti Fry- 80 ……………….. This is the Menu board from a restaurant called Erivum Puliyum, literally “Heat and Sour.” It refers to the taste of chillies and tamarind, essential in Kerala cooking and especially for fish. We walked in at 9 PM needing to order a take-away for 15 people, WhatsApped the photo to our group and the restaurant delivered the food in 40 minutes. The place is a favourite of my sister’s when she is in Cochin. It’s rough and ready but very popular, and the menu shows what can be had for a very modest outlay. The current exchange rate is 83 rupees to the pound sterling, 64 rupees to the US dollar. But it’s difficult to access without the language. Kappa Biriyani uses tapioca instead of rice. Innovation continues in surprising ways! This dish has taken off big time in Kerala recently, and is completely new to me. Nice, but whereas rice biriyani has a resonance of the Mughal Court, kappa biriyani leans towards the toddy shop. Varattiyathu, roast, fry are somewhat interchangeable terms in cooking and not necessarily related to what you might expect. Anywhere from deep-fried to slow cooked in a dry sauce would fall in that spectrum. Some of the dishes refer to “with chillies” or “with coconut.” Since both are present in just about everything you can eat in Kerala, I guess this means “with even more!” Poti Fry- I had no idea. Googling leads to Boti Fry, lamb gizzards apparently. Sadly, I missed the opportunity. Google tells me Kera is Amberjack. Karimeen is what I always thought translated to Kingfish, but google offers Pearl Spot or Green Chromide. You can see the prominence of beef on the menu. The owner says there’s been some trouble with the recent rise of Hindu fundamentalists who object to the sale of beef. In Kerala there’s never been a distinction between beef and buffalo- you either ate it or you didn’t, and we didn’t interfere with other people’s choices. Now, as elsewhere in India, we are seeing restaurants advertising buffalo to try and avoid the ire of religious types. I’m not saying it was a paradise of tolerance and mutual respect, but that was certainly how we saw ourselves. This shift is also reflected in the confused and confusing approach to getting alcohol in Kerala. Suffice to say, at present it is not a dry state, but you will have difficulty buying a legal drink on public holidays and on the first day of every month. It’s all political. Talking of politics; no pics of the food, so here’s a picture of Noam Chomsky at a place where we ate. Future installments will not be so text-heavy.
  12. A little taste of Kerala

    @Smithy, the yoghurt would provide the liqiuid component as well as a tangy sour note.I didn't photograph the combination as it would look slushy on the plate. To me this preparation is like Anton Ego's ratatouille in that movie. There was chicken curry with the rice, which had some gravy. Also, normal people eat vegetables, again providing some sauce on the plate.
  13. A little taste of Kerala

    My niece has just married and we are in Kerala as part of the celebrations. I wish I could have preserved the whole event in detail for eGullet, as I’ve enjoyed the posts of others so much. In particular I’m thinking of @chefmd's Mongolia blog and @sartoric's amazing South Indian report. Forget that standard! I’m going to try a little mini-blog. Not only am I terribly disorganised and IT challenged but I am also currently suffering from a rotator cuff tear which makes photography painful and difficult. Even though this will be a very scanty record, I think I can offer something a little different to what we've seen before. Prawn fry. Chicken fry. Rice. My mother used to send us off to school with our lunch of fried prawns, rice and yoghurt. I think this rice is basmati, which is not quite correct. The yoghurt is home made daily. The prawns are from the Kerala backwaters; large and fresh caught. These are spiced mainly with chilli paste, and cooked in coconut oil to a somewhat firmer consistency than would be considered polite nowadays in the UK. This combination takes me right back to kindergarten tiffin. The nuns used to roll their eyes and tut at how red and hot the prawns looked. We don’t get it much or at all any more when we’re back in England, so this was an absolute treat. The chicken fry and chicken curry (just pictured with the rice) would normally have been stars in their own shows, but got hardly a look-in today. The thoran (again not pictured) being vegetarian, was sadly neglected. I’m sure it was very good but vegetables really have to fight for their space on my plate. Please bear with me for the misalligned pictures, varying resolution and clunky editing...
  14. Dinner 2017 (Part 6)

    Smoked salmon, olive oil, fancy French seaweed salt on an open panino. Same as lunch, just because it was good.
  15. Dinner 2017 (Part 6)

    Octopus, prawns, pork, chorizo, tomatoes, other stuff you'd expect, cooked low'n'slow . Tasted good.
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