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Kerala Food Journey- Kollam, Kottayam and Cochin

Kollam

YouTube Video- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PX9R2W6JmlU&t=4s

We began our food journey in Kollam, with Fehalwan Hotel. Fehalwans are professional wrestlers. In north India, they are colloquially called Pehalwans. The walls of Fehalwan hotel are adorned with the pictures of Md. Kunju, dating back to his wrestling days.  It is said that Md Kunju used to bring professional wrestlers to the city and and the ground behind the restaurant was a hub for wrestling matches.

There are private cubicles in the hotel, where one can relish the food with their dear ones. Visiting during the morning hours when breakfast was on in full frenzy, we tried Appam with spicy fish curry. Another popular favourite amongst the locals at Fehalwan Hotel is the Mutton Biryani. Served only during the lunch hours, this delicacy gets over in a matter of hours, as crowds throng to get a taste of the same.

Not too far from Fehalwan is a vegetarian restaurant named Guruprasad. We decided to give the Vegetable Biryani a try here. The biryani is served with Raita, Papad and pickles, and garnished with fried bread crumbs which give it a crunchy, munchy flavour. Lucky for us, we managed to try the local dessert in Kerala, the renowned, Jaggery Payasam, as it was a Sunday.

For lunch, we were recommended to try Ramees restaurant. At Ramees, we had Chicken Firecracker, Mutton Roast and Ari Pathri. The boneless chicken was marinated in local spices and wrapped in pandan leaves, and deep fried. It was truly delicious. An equivalent of Rumali Roti in North India, Ari Pathiri, the thinly made rice flour breads are cooked and dipped in coconut milk to make them softer.

After a sumptuous lunch, we decided to visit the beaches of Kerala, to explore the snack options available there. We entered a hub of stalls serving chana tossed with red chilies and spices, coconut water, roasted peanuts and mango slices and amla pieces dipped in salt water (Uppil ettah th ). The mango, pineapple, cucumber slices are eaten with red chilly chutney.

However, our highlight of the Kerala food journey was Ezuthaniyil Tea Shop in Keralapuram. A shop with no name plate and a hut like structure, that is immensely popular for its mutton curry, mutton roast and cake nuggets. Established in 1948 by Meera Sahib, the place is flocked by crowds from far distances for mutton curry and special cakes. The raw spices are freshly ground and used to prepare the spice mix to add to the mutton curry. The onions that are used to cook the curry are small madras onions, which bring in their own unique flavour. We devoured it with the flaky and perfect Malabari Parottas. The special cakes, which are also a revered delicacy, are prepared using refined flour, duck eggs and sugar.

Kottayam

In Kottayam, we decided to visit the Karimpumkala Restaurant, known for its sea food. The restaurant is located at Pallom on M.C.Road. We tried the regular fish curry meal with karimeen polichathu, which is a black pearl fish marinated in different spices wrapped in banana leaves and deep fried.

From Kottayam, we headed to Kumrakom, a beautiful place famous for its bird sanctuary and houseboats. We visited Kumarakom toddy parlor. There are separate compartments where one can sip toddy, the local mildly alcoholic beverage made from coconut palm trees. The dishes that accompany toddy are typically spicy and fried dishes.

Hopping on and off the local buses from Kumarakom to Cherthala and then to Thoppampady, we reached the tourist destination Fort Cochin

Fort Cochin

YouTube Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_I_-HsbENas

Fort Cochin is a thing of magnificence, and a popular tourist destination. In order to experience the local culture, we booked a homestay and hired a bike to explore the city. At Fort Cochin, the sight of Chinese fishing nets being used to catch the fish greets you, and one can ride the jetty to cross the sea, parking their cars and bikes on the jetty itself. On the beach, the concept of ‘you buy and we cook’ is extremely popular – you can buy the fish as per your taste preferences and ask the small eateries to cook using the local spices.

We started our day with Kayees Restaurant in Mattancherry known for its Mutton Biryani. This lightly flavored Biryani with no colours and onions is cooked using Dum style. We took the jetty ride to Ernakulum city to Mullapanthal Toddy Parlor. The toddy parlor has both individual rooms and a common area. The parlor is flocked by people from different age groups. Perhaps, Kerala is the only place where the restaurants serve both beef and pork under one roof. We tried the pork fry. Slightly on the spicy side, it goes well with the toddy. Another interesting Chakhna (snacks served with alcoholic drinks ) served with the toddy here is Chamandi – a paste like consistency with the main ingredients being red chilies, garlic, onion and coconut oil. It is served with tapioca.

While returning, we stopped at Sri Muruga café at Poonathara near Thripunithara. The café is decorated with bananas hanging from the roof. Sri Muruga is famous for Pazham Pori with Beef Curry. Pazham Pori, a common snack available all across Kerala is made up of ripened banana wrapped in the batter of all purpose flour and deep fried. Most of the Malyalees eat it with a cup of tea or as a snack. We also experienced the unconventional and unique taste of spicy beef curry with sweet banana fry.

For our dinner, we headed to Dhe Puttu, a restaurant run by Malyalee actor Dileep. Unlike the controversies faced by the actor, the food here was nothing but a delight. In fact, it was the most expensive meal we had in Kerala. On the recommendation of the server, we ordered Red snapper fish and multi layered puttu named Ezhusundhara Rathrikal. The multi layered puttu had prawns, chicken and pork in it. It was truly delicious. The snapper was first deep fried and then a layer of onion masala was spread over it.

The last meal in Ernakulum was at Puttu Kada. The eatery is located at Pallikadavu, Kumbalam near St. Mary’s church. Out of all the places we tried in Kerala, this was the most interesting to dine at. The operating hours of the restaurant are from 8 pm till the stock lasts, usually till 2 am. The eatery, initially started for fishermen has slowly become popular amongst the locals as well. The menu is quite simple – beef curry, mutton curry, chicken curry, fried chicken, boiled duck eggs and puttu. A simplistic place with only a few tables and benches as the main architecture, here the food speaks for itself. We tried the chicken curry with puttu and were impressed with the preparations. The chicken was cooked with lot of onions and special spices. It was a great end to our Cochin food journey.

Before leaving for Calicut, the breakfast at Ifthar restaurant was of typical Malabar dishes. Both the banana based dishes Kayikritha, Pazam Kuzachath are fried using ripened bananas and mixed with eggs, sugar, cardamom powder, and dry fruits.

All in all, it was a truly a journey equivalent to culinary heaven.

 

 

 

Anubhav Sapra is an avid foodie! He is a Founder but proudly calls himself a Foodie-in-chief at Delhi Food Walks. He is also a street-food and Indian regional cuisine connoisseur and loves to write about street-food.