“There is no sincere love than the Love of Food- George Bernard Shaw.” And I am loyal towards my Love, as I m a sincere Foodie. Since food makes me happy, I guess it’s the sole ingredient that binds people together. So tell me what comes to your mind when you think of Kochi? Backwaters, beaches, houseboats, or maybe Kerala spa; think again, as for me its appam, seafood, puttu, Biryani, Karimeen Pollicahthu, and the divine Sadya. Salivating already? then let’s treat your taste buds.
Walking down the gourmet’s lane of Kochi, I started to taste the sumptuous cuisine. A destination’s food tells you a great deal about its culture, and Kochi is no different. Here people from over 16 communities co-exist as one big happy family, and it’s a magical stretch. Over centuries the richness of cuisine molded through a delectable blend of Malabari, French, Brit, along with Arabic influences. The kitchen introduced me to a myriad of sensory experiences- aroma, sight, texture & taste of old as well as new Kochi.
I set off my tour with Fort Kochi (old Kochi), the weather was warm, with few clouds hovering in the sky, just a sea breeze to comfort. But Hotel Seagull was at the rescue, a popular eating joint located right in the core of Fort Kochi. The seating arrangement caught my attention, as you can sit indoor as well on the waterfront. Yeah, that was lovely. While sipping your favourite drink or munching in some mouth-smacking delicacy enjoy the sunset along with ships and jetties passing by. The menu is mainly Non-Vegetarian though there are a few Vegan and Vegetarian choices. It was a high menu, glancing across it, I stopped at the specialities of the eatery; & ordered The Chilli Beef with Hot Parotta with a beer. The food was served within 15min, & it was a generous portion I must say, well enough for two people. The dish presented a sharp pungency in the flavour, the coconut adding the cream, & the hint of tamarind heightened the fresh, tender, crispy beef further. I would highly recommend this place; it has it all food, view, and drinks. Oh! For the religious lot who don’t eat beef, don’t worry; they also hold options of Chicken, Fish, Crabs, and Squids.
Highlights: Kerala Fry, Beef Coconut Fry, Tiger Prawns Masala, the Fish Roast, and any seafood that too a fresh catch of the day
Location: Calvathy Rd, Fort Kochi,
Cost: INR 800/- Including Beer for two approx
The Kashi Art Cafe
The treasure trove of community history can be found in Old Kochi, which is passed on through food. Just like food, people are also warm, friendly & kind; you see them at The Kashi Art Cafe, first of its kind in the city.
This place houses artwork by some Indian and international artists, along with mouth-smacking food. The artistry setting is the USP of this place, with fantastic food. Some leisure time, a book with a coffee adds up to your holiday. And I desired to keep it light in the evening as my afternoon diet was way too plentiful.
Highlights: Spinach Mushroom Cheese Omelette, French Toast, and Fresh Sprout Salad.
Location: Burger St, near Police Station, Fort Nagar, Fort Kochi,
Cost: Rs. 600 for two approx
The next day for my breakfast, I wanted to try something authentic; then the local tea seller suggested Hotel Annapoorna. A pure vegetarian restaurant, rejoice for the vegan. I am not so fond of south Indian delicacy, but they served the best Puttu I ate so far. The whole restaurant showcased Kerala’s quintessential breakfast tradition, and it was finger-licking.
Highlights: Puttu, Masala Dosa, Idli
Location: East Fort Gate, Thrippunithura Main Road, Kannankulangara,
Cost: Rs 200 for two approx.
Kayes Rahmathulla Café- Biryani
The afternoon was spent in Mattancherry the home to settlers & traders from other regions of India and the World; I could imagine how varied the spread must be. Little around noon, I went to Kayes Rahmathulla Café– one of the famous places in Kochi for its authentic yet unique Biryani’s. It was crowded due to the peak lunch hour & I had to wait for 15-20min to get a seat. Nothing to be surprised by, if the staff asks you to share up a table with some other people as this is a prevalent practice here. Looking around, I realized this place is only about its Biryani, nothing fancy as it has served the legacy since 1948.
Once seated, I was served with jeera water to build up an appetite & better digestion. Interesting! Mostly, its Kokam that’s served before food in the Southern or western part of India. I ordered a chicken Biryani, in 10 mins it was served with papads & mint dips. I can’t explain the penchant & feel that came with each spoonful of Biryani. I recommend trying out their delectable Biryani yourself.
Highlights: Biryani Chicken as well as Mutton, Fish Biryani on Friday and prawn on Tuesdays.
Locations: Aanavaadal, Fort Kochi, Mattancherry, Kochi
Cost: Rs 500 for two approx.
After a luxurious lunch, I could only see my bed but had to shed the thought and started for Ernakulam. Its a 30 min drive from Kochi approx 10km; the best place to shop from species to oils, sarees or even leather. But for me, I was in search of soul appetizing food, and who could better suggest places then the locals. And the name came up as Grand Pavilion– a Kochi institution for the past fifty years in food. Its menu features everything from north Indian to Chinese, pass all; and try the Karimeen Pollichathu- it’s a gourmet delight, you need to get past the crowd for a seat though.
Highlights: The Karimeen Pollichathu, Beef fry, Syrian food and seafood.
Locations: Mahatma Gandhi Rd, Ernakulam South, Kochi,
Cost: Rs. 1,000 for two approx.
Nettor Toddy Shop
Even I tried out my shopping skill, & bargained on spices. It was a success! Now I wanted to relax; thus, my friend suggested Nettor Toddy shop. It is situated along the bank of Kochi lake, surrounded by coconut trees. Its an unfussy Shappu a stereotypical toddy shop depicted in Malayalam movies serving palm-based beverages & spice. The evening sky wearing the twilight vale, the panorama of the distant railway bridge from the lake, boat service and, the remarkable sight of this place is sure to leave you mesmerized. Along with the view, this restaurant also serves mouth-watering dishes like Crab Roast, Meena Thala Curry, prawn fry, add a plate of kappa, or tapioca, to go with your order
Highlights: Chemmeen Ulathiyathu, Meena Thala Curry, Crab Roast
Locations: Near, Nettor Palli, Nettoor, Maradu, Ernakulam
Cost: Rs. 600 for two approx
I was at the final stage of my trip, but we can end anything without eating sweets. Malabari Mappila sweets served at this quaint cafe Ojeen can’t be a lack. The Unnakaya (a sweet made with plantain) or Mutta Mala (a dessert that’s made entirely with eggs) is excellent for every mood & and an ideal foodie too. I got them packed so I can cherish them on my path back to the hotel or maybe during my midnight cravings.
Highlights: Unnakaya, Mutta Mala, Rachi Pathiri and Kabsa (think Biryani, but different; cooked with Arabic meat and rice).
Locations:Penta Menaka Shopping Complex, D-17, Shanmugham Rd, Menaka, Marine Drive, Kochi.
Cost: Rs 450 for two approx.
Well, my last day was about backwaters, to taste the basic homemade food. It was an hour drive to Kottayam from Kochi, Land of ‘ letters, latex and lakes’. All you can see while sailing for 2-3 hrs were long stretches of the serene backwaters sprawling paddy fields, and rubber plantations. It was scorching heat, though the boat’s roof was covered with bamboo, & a breeze to ease the humid. It’s the best way to watch the mundane activities of rural life of the locales while passing through the villages. Ultimately, we made a pit stop at a small village near the seashore; we were welcomed by a few local people who escorted us to a makeshift dining area. The air was filled with a rich scent of coconut, & abundant species. We were served in the traditional way of eating on banana leaf’s which had rice, sambhar, cabbage and coconut Sabji, pickle and 2 Bananas for dessert. The most simple, & a soul-filling food, as eating with fingers elevates your senses, also the local produce.
Highlights: Homemade food from local produce
Locations: Any local operators, who tour backwaters.
Cost: Food is free when you buy the ticket for a Backwater trip
I wanted to carry back some sample of variety in savory and sweet delicacies, so I opted for Quality Bakers that offers a taste of the rich history as it used to be a Dutch colony. I got Breudher (pronounced bruu-dhaar), which is a cross between bread and cake for my self as a token of food memory.
Highlights: Bakery products and desserts.
Locations: Near S.B.T, Tvs Rd, South Kalamassery, Kalamassery, Kochi
Cost: Rs 500 for two approx.
Kochi has several choices to quench your thirst from piping hot chai to chilled buffalo milk Lassi; an array of seasonal fruits from a local shop, to maybe tiny coffee roaster that is over 80 years old or various eateries to hop. It enriches our culinary curiosity and perhaps enlightens us with new ideas and ingredients to try out back home. So pack your appetite along, and an open mind when you visit Kochi as a Foodie.