Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Another taste of Kerala


Kerala
 Share

Recommended Posts

I'm going to break continuity for a moment. It's been a busy few days and I will catch up when I have time, but I thought a live report would be fun. IMG_20220711_153846.thumb.jpg.56bf98aa3e67c2bb249f173d56a705c4.jpg

I'm on a train journey from Ernakulam/Kochi to Thiruvananthapuram. IMG_20220711_134536.thumb.jpg.185798a47bc75a9a40071cbf3bc19c13.jpg

I've bravely ordered chicken biryani from a vendor on the train. IMG_20220711_141542.thumb.jpg.6f4d3eddba5cc96be9445d1ca0a8e076.jpg

along with an altogether less risky cup of tea.

IMG_20220711_155210.thumb.jpg.49cd266574ecb9c9193971d77a037158.jpg

The  biriyani is nothing tremendous, but a tasty, hot and filling meal. A chicken wing with the flat and the drumstick, in a biriyani flavoured sauce, with plenty of rice if you are actually hungry. Not IMG_20220711_141648.thumb.jpg.e5d0d14267d608d908ea3c6a85cb6935.jpgIMG_20220711_141755.thumb.jpg.9c0ee14336ff99675ac40b2912243fc5.jpgphotogenic, but for Rs 120, hard to fault.

The tea was an instant, powdered tea. The vendor pictured above is carrying hot water in that polished vessel, which we thought would have contained brewed tea. We all agreed it was astonishingly good, with a rich cardamom flavour and aroma we never expected. Not bad, again, for Rs 20.IMG_20220711_153706.thumb.jpg.5e315e734da9907c4a80eadfbda94272.jpg

  • Like 8
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Kerala said:

I'm going to break continuity for a moment. It's been a busy few days and I will catch up when I have time, but I thought a live report would be fun. IMG_20220711_153846.thumb.jpg.56bf98aa3e67c2bb249f173d56a705c4.jpg

I'm on a train journey from Ernakulam/Kochi to Thiruvananthapuram. IMG_20220711_134536.thumb.jpg.185798a47bc75a9a40071cbf3bc19c13.jpg

I've bravely ordered chicken biryani from a vendor on the train. IMG_20220711_141542.thumb.jpg.6f4d3eddba5cc96be9445d1ca0a8e076.jpg

along with an altogether less risky cup of tea.

IMG_20220711_155210.thumb.jpg.49cd266574ecb9c9193971d77a037158.jpg

The  biriyani is nothing tremendous, but a tasty, hot and filling meal. A chicken wing with the flat and the drumstick, in a biriyani flavoured sauce, with plenty of rice if you are actually hungry. Not IMG_20220711_141648.thumb.jpg.e5d0d14267d608d908ea3c6a85cb6935.jpgIMG_20220711_141755.thumb.jpg.9c0ee14336ff99675ac40b2912243fc5.jpgphotogenic, but for Rs 120, hard to fault.

The tea was an instant, powdered tea. The vendor pictured above is carrying hot water in that polished vessel, which we thought would have contained brewed tea. We all agreed it was astonishingly good, with a rich cardamom flavour and aroma we never expected. Not bad, again, for Rs 20.IMG_20220711_153706.thumb.jpg.5e315e734da9907c4a80eadfbda94272.jpg

Is that commonly how biryani looks in that area?  In the photo, it looks just like steamed rice with some type of curry rather than what I think of as biryani in which the rice is steamed with the spices and meat.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, KennethT said:

Is that commonly how biryani looks in that area?  In the photo, it looks just like steamed rice with some type of curry rather than what I think of as biryani in which the rice is steamed with the spices and meat.

I am sure you are right, @KennethT

I share your view of what constitutes a biriyani, but there is a lot of variation in what people think. The duration of the steaming you mention varies tremendously.  If you're not pedantic, layered rice with chicken in an appropriately spiced gravy steamed through could be called a biriyani.

In any case, it tasted fresh, and 6 hours later my digestive system is reporting no difficulties, so I'm happy.

The rice used is a shorter grain than basmati. That's quite a specialist Kerala biriyani choice.

Incidentally, no spoon was provided. I had one available in hand luggage. Hand hygiene can be difficult on the train.

 

 

  • Like 3
  • Confused 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, heidih said:

@Kerala Is red a lucky color there? Referring to the bright train. As to the tea - did he tell you brand so you could possibly take some back home? 

The brand is Chaizup. Rs 10 a packet. We'll be keeping an eye out.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Back in the time line, we are on pilgrimage to Guruvayur Temple. For the duration of the trip, until after the temple, we are vegetarian - a couple of days. It's a long journey so we set off at 5 in the morning, catching breakfast on the road. IMG_20220707_083328.thumb.jpg.79281af4b4dad734873c6da73f0d99b4.jpg

A friendly lobby cat. IMG_20220707_083246.thumb.jpg.f43fffeceb0654fa12cb79906c187ad8.jpg

Monsoon rains. IMG_20220707_085704.thumb.jpg.767c13a1514db1921026ffaf8a5f5dbb.jpg

Sambar at the fore, masala dosa at the rear. Sambar is a savoury vegetable stew: moringa pods, okra, yams, tomatoes, onions. It's an absolute staple in Kerala, to accompany dosa, rice, Idli... Fine for breakfast, lunch or supper. IMG_20220707_085700.thumb.jpg.583f2f4655b1c91f32d107053461ac5b.jpg

Plain dosa. These were massive. Dosa at home are much smaller. Hotel dosas are made on a larger pan, and crisper, fattier and cruncher. IMG_20220707_085228.thumb.jpg.486a193a746795f60a194965df4cff9c.jpg

Upma with kadala curry. Kadala= Black chickpeas. IMG_20220707_085207.thumb.jpg.9ab1898e5c1851ab92780c47edf4a822.jpg

Upma. Rice flour with layers of ground coconut, pressure steamed in metal cylinders. In the past we used bamboo stems bound in rope instead of steel. The texture is moist and crumbly, falling apart at the poke of a finger. IMG_20220707_085159.thumb.jpg.14cc6e847aa1b0483b2abe3c02afdc8f.jpg

Three idli: steamed rice flour dumplings. Denser than upma. Fried vada, red and green chammanthi for dipping. The red was a bit spicier, and the green more fresh and vegetal.

Edited by Kerala (log)
  • Like 5
  • Thanks 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

We stayed at the Hotel Gokul Vanamala which is just two minutes walk from the temple at Guruvayur. The town has developed almost solely for the purpose of servicing the temple. The hotel provides only vegetarian food. So, dosa overload!

 

IMG_20220712_171907.thumb.jpg.c01e93dd3d08e768c1756a82e1d9fe4d.jpg

First, a couple of snacks on arrival. Banana fritters in a batter with cumin seeds and turmeric. IMG_20220707_171409.thumb.jpg.33d2eb4c0f542c20e8c895ee6f55beb5.jpg

Vegetable "cutlets." Usually these would be breaded meat patties with potato, onion and spices but here, all veg. IMG_20220707_171726.thumb.jpg.8cbd4ac6abf9b4a4c55da04fd8dfb12b.jpg

Dosa. This was mine, I think. The accompaniments are, clockwise from the top, sambar, chutney and red chammanthi. These are all coconut heavy preparations. The chutney has no resemblance to English chutney what so ever. These side dishes are for dipping, and came with each of the dosas.  IMG_20220707_203759.thumb.jpg.d02bdb0650057bc9bd7aab726eebb2de.jpgIMG_20220707_203908.thumb.jpg.7b1cf867910a8ec4a35646ed6575f081.jpg

Masala dosa.IMG_20220707_205258.thumb.jpg.d52e402a9441ba63bfa408c8622a5b48.jpg

Aloo gobi, really North iIndian but welcome to accompanyIMG_20220707_205255.thumb.jpg.8996b0a61a726cc9ae3d8a46fd2de2ed.jpg

Malabar parotta. This is a lighter, flakier flatbread, composed of strips of pastry pressed together, quite different to the North Indian paratha. IMG_20220707_203626.thumb.jpg.3f51677d22db84e2ef994c9718a076a2.jpg

Paper roast, or paper dosa. Look at the size! The rice batter is spread over a much larger pan, giving a bigger proportion of crisp, even brittle dosa to the fluffy central portion. Lots of surface area for the Maillard reaction, producing that golden brown delicious crust. IMG_20220707_204907.thumb.jpg.0a62b62916f131bfe1b4d08743d271af.jpg

Battura, something like a big heavy puri. North Indian again. IMG_20220707_205320.thumb.jpg.a6293f017533277dcc759a44e2b244ac.jpg

Apparently very good!

 

 

 

 

Edited by Kerala (log)
  • Like 7
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is the man of the hour,our little Kailas during his Chorunnu (rice feeding) at Guruvayur. He is having just a dab of each of the servings on his little sadya. IMG_9205.thumb.jpg.5a7ef834b3aebbedc0e116912a2b25ba.jpg

Rice, banana, jaggery/payasum, papadom, and 4 vegetable dishes.

  • Like 11
  • Thanks 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sadya is a big subject. It is the meal served at the Onam feast. Onam is Kerala's most important festival. The rules for Sadya are strict and rigid with every dish and its position on the banana leaf prescribed by tradition. There is regional variation, but no variation within the region. I won't pretend to be an expert, and even Malayalis raised in Kerala get it wrong if they are not experienced.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a tendency to scoff or roll my eyes at tradition,  unless it is another culture's - then I find it interesting.. Makes no sense but I see myself doing it. Thanks for including the background.

Edited by heidih (log)
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for sharing this.  This is fascinating and unique from what I have experienced (and we have quite a diverse Indian population in the Toronto area).  Those rice flour dumplings and the rice flour/coconut concoction are very intriguing flavour vessels...

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My pleasure, @TicTac

The vegetarian cuisine here is very subtle and nuanced. The nonvegetarian cooking is even more varied, but tends to operate at spicy to hot levels. I appreciate the vegetarian options more now than when I was young.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

So here we are, back on the Kayal. IMG_20220709_151958.thumb.jpg.1f9e4700a7a57ba0bfe9a7b0327fc029.jpg

This backwater network is used for transport, coir production, agriculture, shellfish farming, fishing and is a major draw for the tourism industry. IMG_20220709_152358.thumb.jpg.1657ca78e4a88a3a727f8bef6db218a8.jpg

We hired a boat with crew for a few hours and headed out. Not much to do except chat, sip a beer, watch the world go by. IMG_20220709_124355_BURST003.thumb.jpg.6e572782913ebeea0878cf2b8974f350.jpg

We stopped at a waterside fish shop to supplement lunch.

IMG_20220709_122705.thumb.jpg.be4b29a5865cf94fce21da016f1fb699.jpgIMG_20220709_122509.thumb.jpg.f43c6230d7f1d0b38a718de8f105f896.jpgIMG_20220709_122328.thumb.jpg.2d052b26ec49a62787ba9f955e3fa4de.jpgIMG_20220709_122348.thumb.jpg.a9131e514847cbe125ba37449c030d3a.jpg

We handed over the catch to the galley crew, one man from Nepal and the other from Assam, neither of whom spoke much English nor Malayalam. The tour operator reassured us they could cook in the authentic Malayali tradition.

We set offIMG_20220709_113638.thumb.jpg.5bc4af4df264fa08e86baf816690906f.jpg

After a while I popped down to see how they were doing.

IMG_20220709_132445.thumb.jpg.3f0b8f15f1a13a1db5ad96cb76f30e13.jpgIMG_20220709_132448.thumb.jpg.0928bd2250ff41865df02206b9e29141.jpgIMG_20220709_132451.thumb.jpg.6eae2adde6f5e45da936d60f61684409.jpg

They seemed to be doing alright.

IMG_20220709_132441.thumb.jpg.28d961c69fac91cd63d0ceb6ad8b4ebb.jpg

Crab

IMG_20220709_132454.thumb.jpg.314893981a2c64d2226d954ef3083d7b.jpg

Chicken. IMG_20220709_132432.thumb.jpg.7b526585979824861cc230b010696af0.jpgIMG_20220709_132437.thumb.jpg.615c0182807425890b2065b49c77bc72.jpg

Prawns skewered on eerkil, the stalks of the leaves of coconut palms. IMG_20220709_141906.thumb.jpg.66acd935e1047758f62ac691053c756c.jpgIMG_20220709_142329.thumb.jpg.0118ddc27da741267db93baea8347117.jpg

IMG_20220709_141910.thumb.jpg.e44e60c67a94f13c73f38c55f06217f3.jpg

Karimeen fish. IMG_20220709_141915.thumb.jpg.4c3a845dc885bb896cb52fe660da62ed.jpg

Chicken curry

IMG_20220709_142019.thumb.jpg.cfe1e42104c7196dd14a64e1f59c64eb.jpg

Crab curry,cooked almost dry.

IMG_20220709_141932.thumb.jpg.3266ee749b0648adc4b48913485e32f4.jpg

Crab, Thoran, Mezhukkupuratti, Pulisheri.

IMG_20220709_162818.thumb.jpg.c85cc5fe89051ddf7a1c417fb0e6c82f.jpg

Banana fritters and masala chai to finish.

Bonus pics:

IMG_20220709_141925.jpg

IMG_20220709_141938.jpg

IMG_20220709_142032.jpg

IMG_20220709_142203.jpg

IMG_20220709_142326.jpg

IMG_20220712_202929.jpg

IMG_20220709_142203.jpg

Edited by Kerala (log)
  • Like 7
  • Thanks 1
  • Delicious 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

IMG_20220709_141932.thumb.jpg.d05dfd9beb0b9502c5976deed8d9015b.jpg

The crab curry was prepared with little gravy. Thoran is usually vegetables stir fried with grated coconut. Mezhukkupuratti is vegetables stir fried without coconut. Pulisheri is a mild, slightly sour yoghurt curry. Only the crab curry was hot (spicy.)

  • Like 3
  • Delicious 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Next morning we made a quick visit to Jew Town in the Fort Kochi suburb. There has apparently been Jewish settlement in Kerala since the second sacking of Jerusalem.

 

IMG_20220710_105240.jpg

IMG_20220710_105305.jpg

Edited by Kerala (log)
  • Like 6
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The synogogue is in Fort Kochi, famous for its spice traders. IMG_20220710_121252.thumb.jpg.4059d29e1dfef1b530313baa1ab2378d.jpg

I ended up in some place which looked as though Laboratoire Garnier had decided to trade spiceIMG_20220710_121302.thumb.jpg.1e4249c46488c46ddf384bcd2f1cdd62.jpg

but prices were perfectly reasonable. Prepacked and loose. IMG_20220710_121235.thumb.jpg.3e6c67723c34d6933901c24bdd42bd9b.jpgI can make out Mace, cassia and star anise here.

IMG_20220710_121228.thumb.jpg.abbf933214c0376ad6f6154e9d05a778.jpg

Green cardamom, turmeric, star anise. Dried ginger, clove (?), cinnamon. IMG_20220710_120911.thumb.jpg.c59a530674aeecd950915ac4083260b5.jpg

This is a mixture of Ayurvedic medicinal herbs. Add coconut oil to infuse, and you can then rub it in your scalp for those with grey or thinning hair. Different preparations for different complaints. @sartoric

were you asking about something similar when you did your blog in India?

I bought a few herbs and spices of varying difficulty to obtain in the UK, including this:

IMG_20220710_202121.thumb.jpg.3b817d06a9869185f0e3058b81d7398b.jpg

Kudam puli, or pot tamarind, a souring agent for Keralan fish curries.

Edited by Kerala (log)
  • Like 8
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

18 hours ago, Duvel said:


Probably because Kerala and Germany (especially Lower Saxony) share a spice palette …

Uhm... I've had curry wurst in Berlin?

IMG_20220710_202241.jpg

IMG_20220710_202246.jpg

IMG_20220710_202121.jpg

IMG_20220710_202124.jpg

IMG_20220710_202126.jpg

IMG_20220710_202129.jpg

IMG_20220710_202134.jpg

IMG_20220710_202139.jpg

IMG_20220710_202158.jpg

IMG_20220710_202201.jpg

IMG_20220710_202215.jpg

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

12 hours ago, Kerala said:

Next morning we made a quick visit to Jew Town in the Fort Kochi suburb. There has apparently been Jewish settlement in Kerala since the second sacking of Jerusalem.

 

 

 

Do they really call it "Jew Town"?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...