I love this place. Mohan, our trusted driver these past few weeks travelling slowly through South India, told us Kerala was “God’s Own Country.” I understand now why he couldn’t wait to show us his home state.
It’s tea plantations, hills, backwaters, beaches along the Arabian Sea and Mohan’s favourite, “Kerala Fish Curry.” He has it almost every day with thali, a creative compilation of small tasty local dishes. Traditionally thali’s served on a banana leaf. Wholesome and inexpensive thali includes Kerala brown rice, vegetables, chutney, yoghurt and pickle.What better place to learn how to make Mohan’s fish curry than Cochin or Kochi as it has recently been renamed – it ‘s been a centre of fishing and trading in India for centuries.
Today a visit to Hindu temples, mosques, churches and a synagogue tells the story of Kochi’s long history. With a population of about one and a half million, it is not the sleepy port we first visited in 1994. At that time we could hear explosions off the coastline. “Dynamite.” We were told then. “For fishing.” The illegal dynamiting has been stopped but the renowned Chinese fishing nets in Kochi now “are mainly for catching tourists,” our guide tells us. I’m glad the fishing nets are still there. They are a beautiful reminder of the past and a way of living in Cochin.
Many of the chefs in the small hotels we are staying in South India are pleased to share their recipes and happy to help make changes to avoid allergens, even the much-loved coconut that is in every “Kerala” dish. Chef Kardhik at Brunton Boatyard Hotel near the fishing nets taught us how to make fish curry. I’ll make it at home and maybe post the recipe.We left out the Kerala and substituted cream. Delicious.
Like most things in this beautiful part of India.