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A food tour through (mostly) southern India.


sartoric
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IMG_3623.JPGAs we descend, the tea plantations give way to rubber. We spend the night at a homestay in the middle of one, and learn all about the production. 

 

First though, we must eat lunch. From 12.00 clockwise, pappads, fish fry, rice, veg cutlets, Russian salad, chicken fry, lemon pickle, fruit from the property.

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Then, time for afternoon coffee. Our hostess Ann was very open about allowing me into her kitchen. She has two, a large demonstration kitchen where she runs cooking classes, and a two square meter everyday kitchen behind. She makes the coffee by boiling water in a vase shaped vessel, adds powdered coffee (grown on the property) a few cardamom pods (also grown here) crushed with the heal of a knife, and boils again. It was delicious served with appom (a snack made with semolina wrapped in leaves) and fruitcake made yesterday.

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1 hour ago, rotuts said:

what do they do w these cattle ?

 

they don't eat them , do they ?

No, @rotuts they don't eat them. The bulls will be put to work in fields or pulling carts, the cows are milked. The dairy products are prolific here. 

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1 hour ago, TicTac said:

Boggles my mind when I see people going out for dinner and some or all of them are on their phones. 

 

Have people forgotten how to socialize WITH other people!?

 

 

 

 

I agree, I posted that just to show that the middle class Indians are no different to us.

We did chat to them, they're from Pondicherry and were very cosmopolitan.

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I helped cook dinner, well, okay I stirred the egg and potato curry, while taking photos with my phone.

 

First heat coconut oil, fry black mustard seeds, lots of red onions, ginger, garlic, whole green chillies, then coriander powder, turmeric powder, garam masala and chilli powder and a huge handful of curry leaves. Next we add coconut milk from freshly grated coconut mixed with warm water, blended and squeezed through a sieve and some tomato sauce. Salt water is added to taste, then boiled peeled potatoes, stir stir, then halved hard boiled eggs. Virtually everything comes from the property.

 

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Check out the knife...IMG_3585.JPG

 

Dinner is served.

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We bought a bottle of the local indian wine to celebrate both Republic Day in India and Australia Day, January 26.

This is a Sauvignon Blanc, quite drinkable if pricey.

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I couldn't tell you how many species are grown on this 25 acre property. Rubber is the main crop, there's also many different fruit trees, myriad spices, a vegetable garden, coffee, a small herd, and teak for furniture. We had an interesting walk in the misty early morning with Ann's husband, Alex.

Up hill, down dale, along back roads, about 90 minutes and a good workout.

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Tapping the rubber trees.

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The production area, with fresh sheets drying.

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This pineapple was cut for us to take away.

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The cows.

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1 hour ago, sartoric said:

I helped cook dinner, well, okay I stirred the egg and potato curry, while taking photos with my phone.

 

First heat coconut oil, fry black mustard seeds, lots of red onions, ginger, garlic, whole green chillies, then coriander powder, turmeric powder, garam masala and chilli powder and a huge handful of curry leaves. Next we add coconut milk from freshly grated coconut mixed with warm water, blended and squeezed through a sieve and some tomato sauce. Salt water is added to taste, then boiled peeled potatoes, stir stir, then halved hard boiled eggs.

OMG the tase of home!

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Interesting about the alcohol. No problems getting this? The religious right managed to get a ban on alcohol except for 5 star hotels etc., but I think this was overturned last year, then subject to challenge. I do understand there are more reasons than religion to prohibit access to alcohol.

People do eat beef in India, and more so in Kerala, but again the RR have been pushing for a ban, as in other parts of India. I understand why there's an instruction not to discuss politics and religion on eG, so I won't go on about this.

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10 minutes ago, Kerala said:

Interesting about the alcohol. No problems getting this? The religious right managed to get a ban on alcohol except for 5 star hotels etc., but I think this was overturned last year, then subject to challenge. I do understand there are more reasons than religion to prohibit access to alcohol.

People do eat beef in India, and more so in Kerala, but again the RR have been pushing for a ban, as in other parts of India. I understand why there's an instruction not to discuss politics and religion on eG, so I won't go on about this.

Since you asked, yes, getting alcohol was difficult everywhere we went (except Pondicherry). This bottle was bought the day before in one of the state run liquor stores (an experience in itself). In Kerala every public holiday is dry, the first of the month also dry.  In Tamil Nadu we had a three day ban due to protests/strikes, and then again in the lead up to Republic Day.

 

Interesting about eating beef. We did see it on a menu in a five star hotel in Cochin, it was imported.

We were told the communist party currently runs Kerala...

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Here's a photo of one of the state run liquor stores. From the backwaters near Alleppey five of us took a boat across the river, then crammed into one auto rickshaw for a 10 minute ride. The booze is in a cage, no credit card accepted (weird when the country is trying to become cashless). 

 

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Our most memorable "alcohol" moment was when we took a houseboat on the backwaters. Stopped at a little shop along one of the canals and we got out to see what they were selling. I spied a bottle of what looked to me like some kind of Australian red wine and immediately paid probably something like $15 for it because we were desperate. Imagine sitting on an idyllic houseboat with NO wine! The boat staff took the bottle and said they would serve it to us when we asked. At the appropriate sundown-ish moment, we asked. It came.

 

It was non-alcoholic wine.

 

It's hard to describe the disappointment. One sip is all it took. And the fact that this information - the NON ALCOHOLIC INFORMATION - was hidden neatly away on the label...very sad moment indeed.

 

I do have a photo of us as we toasted with this non-alcoholic, borderline undrinkable substance. On a houseboat. In paradise. There wasn't much alcohol available in India when we were there 4 years ago. You did have to go to some effort to find it. My husband managed to find some "gin" at a scary market stall (much like what you describe) and it made him so sick that i poured the rest of the bottle down the drain. We made do with the occasional beer. We survived. India is worth it.

 

 

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5 minutes ago, Nyleve Baar said:

Our most memorable "alcohol" moment was when we took a houseboat on the backwaters. Stopped at a little shop along one of the canals and we got out to see what they were selling. I spied a bottle of what looked to me like some kind of Australian red wine and immediately paid probably something like $15 for it because we were desperate. Imagine sitting on an idyllic houseboat with NO wine! The boat staff took the bottle and said they would serve it to us when we asked. At the appropriate sundown-ish moment, we asked. It came.

 

It was non-alcoholic wine.

 

It's hard to describe the disappointment. One sip is all it took. And the fact that this information - the NON ALCOHOLIC INFORMATION - was hidden neatly away on the label...very sad moment indeed.

 

I do have a photo of us as we toasted with this non-alcoholic, borderline undrinkable substance. On a houseboat. In paradise. There wasn't much alcohol available in India when we were there 4 years ago. You did have to go to some effort to find it. My husband managed to find some "gin" at a scary market stall (much like what you describe) and it made him so sick that i poured the rest of the bottle down the drain. We made do with the occasional beer. We survived. India is worth it.

 

 

 

That's funny. I saw many of those wine lookalikes. Initially I thought this is good, closer inspection revealed the truth. The only places you can buy alcohol in Kerala are the state run stores, or at a gritty local bar (if it's not a banned day), or as a guest at a five star resort. We didn't stay at any five stars, but did go to one for lunch and dinner !

 

Agree, India is worth it, got to love those lime salt sodas.

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Breakfast at Ann's - toast with homemade jam, dates, fried things, rice flour cakes with coconut milk and a fried egg each. More than adequate. Notice the hand basin in the background, common in many dining rooms so people can wash their hands before eating. 

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On to the Alleppey backwaters, the rice bowl of India (one of many).

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Lunch at Emerald Isle homestay. Grilled fish, beetroot pickle, zucchini, green beans, salad, pappads and rice with coconut mango chutney. This is the local rice (johdi I think) with really plump grains, delicious.

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I didn't know the name of the typical rice of that area. It's so different - most of the time it was quite white, but occasionally they use a rice that has some of the brain still on it. Very delicious. Is it called johdi? Not sure I've ever seen it here.

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20 hours ago, sartoric said:

Since you asked, yes, getting alcohol was difficult everywhere we went (except Pondicherry). This bottle was bought the day before in one of the state run liquor stores (an experience in itself). In Kerala every public holiday is dry, the first of the month also dry.  In Tamil Nadu we had a three day ban due to protests/strikes, and then again in the lead up to Republic Day.

 

Interesting about eating beef. We did see it on a menu in a five star hotel in Cochin, it was imported.

We were told the communist party currently runs Kerala...

Thanks for this thread! Brings back a lot of memories from our trip last April. We did north and south on a 28-day tour, and the locations you described mirror our itinerary.

It was interesting about alcohol and the process to buy. We saw many lines going into alleys, upstairs to a wicket, etc. And yet, alcoholism is a rising problem in India.
We were at a homestay in Alleppey, the Backwaters. On an evening walk along the canals, we saw two men up in the coconut trees. They were tapping the blossom ends and sap for coconut liquor or palm wine (toddy). It’s collected in jugs and taken to a special pub and sometimes offered for private sale. The alcohol content starts off at 2% but increases to 8% almost overnight. The jugs can’t be capped as they will blow the top off. Sanjay, our guide, had some for tasting with our supper. Some were quite put-off with the smell and needed three or more fingerling bananas to get rid of the taste. LOL!
As sartoric mentioned, churches are quite prevalent in the south. This was the influence of the Portugese explorers who first settled in this southern area.

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Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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31 minutes ago, Dejah said:

Thanks for this thread! Brings back a lot of memories from our trip last April. We did north and south on a 28-day tour, and the locations you described mirror our itinerary.

It was interesting about alcohol and the process to buy. We saw many lines going into alleys, upstairs to a wicket, etc. And yet, alcoholism is a rising problem in India.
We were at a homestay in Alleppey, the Backwaters. On an evening walk along the canals, we saw two men up in the coconut trees. They were tapping the blossom ends and sap for coconut liquor or palm wine (toddy). It’s collected in jugs and taken to a special pub and sometimes offered for private sale. The alcohol content starts off at 2% but increases to 8% almost overnight. The jugs can’t be capped as they will blow the top off. Sanjay, our guide, had some for tasting with our supper. Some were quite put-off with the smell and needed three or more fingerling bananas to get rid of the taste. LOL!
As sartoric mentioned, churches are quite prevalent in the south. This was the influence of the Portugese explorers who first settled in this southern area.

 

We also tried the toddy, distinct smell of sweaty socks, but any port in a storm (he he). On a country boat ride we saw the guys tapping palm trees, I love how they adapt and make use of just about everything. 

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There's few decent photos from our time in the Alleppey backwaters. Dining was under a thatched roof held up by bamboo poles with very poor lighting. It was also communal so I was busy chatting rather than shooting.

 

This is the best one. Bread, onion pickle, rice with mango chutney, lentils, veg masala and fried potatoes.

 

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Cochin and the old town area of Fort Kochi is famous for its Chinese fishing nets. It takes five men to haul up the ropes holding rocks which act as a counterweight. Fascinating to watch, a lot of effort for what at the time was a meagre catch.

 

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This was likely the catch from several nets over several hours and the bigger fish from sea going boats.

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A surprise find was a North Indian restaurant in the old town area. DalRoti is in Lily St Fort Kochi, highly rated on zomato.com and very popular. Several groups waited while we enjoyed two veg thali and salt lime/mango sodas.

 

The one at the back has aloo paratha, the front has paneer curry with rice, both have dal, potato curry, veg masala and cooling curd. We ate all of this.

 

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Had room for a shared gulab jamon.....

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A great cheap eat, INR 580 for two.

 

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Breakfast at Hotel Arches in Fort Kochi. I can't pass up the dosa, this one filled with spicy potato masala, served with sambar, coconut chutney and tomato chutney.

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He who must be fed had masala omelette.

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And, we both tried this, name escapes me, a steamed semolina cake with fresh coconut and bean curry.

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