|Cherai beach – just outside Fort Cochin|
Our favourite lunch spot in Fort Cochin was Dal Roti an austere white washed building with quite possibly one of the friendliest and most genial owners you have ever come across. Dal Roti serves up the food from Ramesh’s home state of Uttar Pradesh and he is a wealth of knowledge about different Indian dishes.
|Iced tea at Dal Roti|
We ate at Dal Roti twice and could not go past the koti wraps (Rs80), Ramesh’s take on street food. Flaky, light parantha bread was wrapped around vibrantly spiced vegetables and tandoori charred chicken to make a meal that was simple as pie but delicious as hell. The peach iced green tea (Rs50) was also so refreshing it was addictive. The only downside was that Dal Roti does not have a liquor licence so was not such a good dinner option if you felt like a drink.
|Koti wrap at Dal Roti|
Details: Dal Roti, 1/293 Lilly Street, Fort Cochin, Kerala, India.
Damage: Such a bargain my mother would approve.
The kitchen at Shala is staffed by local housewives and they serve up fresh, organic Keralan food like prawns in a spicy curry sauce. Curry of seer fish in a coconut sauce lacked some of the rich, creamy flavour of the coconut milk but the spices packed a subtle punch. The cafe is painted in bright, colours and has a slick modern feel. Once again there is no alcohol allowed and on this basis I think Dal Roti is a better bet for a cheap and cheerful meal.
|Seer fish in a coconut sauce at Shala|
Details: Shala, Peter Celli Street, Fort Cochin, Kerala, India.
Dinner at Malabar House’s high end restaurant was served outdoors in the courtyard by candle light to the sounds of Indian musicians resplendent in traditional dress and wielding sitars (which always reminds me of Moulin Rouge for some reason). The menu features refined Indian cooking and happily straddles the East/West divide with dishes like fish fingers fried in a light beer batter and served with a spicy mango chutney (Rs250).
|Chocolate brownies at Malabar Junction|
Seafood is a specialty at Malabar Junction and tiger prawns (Rs600) curled into fat, juicy spirals were given a burst of sweetness with an accompaniment of fresh mango and then doused in rich coconut sauce. This was accomplished cooking. However caramelized squid and prawn risotto (Rs440) had a muddied flavour despite containing generous quantities of fresh-off-the-boat seafood. It was worth leaving room for the dessert menu at Malabar Junction as dessert of a nut flecked chocolate brownie (Rs180) slathered in white chocolate sauce had an extraordinarily seductive texture and grown up taste.
Details: Malabar Junction, Malabar House, 1/268 – 1/269 Parade Road, Fort Cochin, Kerala, India 682001(Ph +91 484 2216666).
Elegant and stylish Malabar house is the place to stay in Fort Cochin so I could not say no to an invitation to visit it. The owner, Joerg Dreschsel, has converted an 18th century Dutch colonial residence with exquisite taste and verve. Antique furniture sits alongside bright splashes of colour and creature comforts like televisions, wifi and bar fridges with tea and coffee making facilities.
|Pool and courtyard area at Malabar House|
Our room was so effortlessly cool that it was all I could do not to barricade myself inside and refuse to ever leave. It contained hands down the most comfortable bed I slept in while I was in India, with mountains of fluffy pillows and soft linen. The hotel itself was small and intimate with a central courtyard framed by frangipani trees and anchored by a plunge pool. The pool was more of a focal point than a sun bathing area as it was shaded for most of the day and overlooked by reception.
|Our room at Malabar House|
Accomodation at Malabar House is on a bed and breakfast basis and breakfast included a buffet of fresh juices, pastries, fruits and yoghurts. There was then a choice of Western fare of poached eggs or omlettes alongside the far more interesting Indian breakfasts. A papery thin dosa was served with a spicy masala of potatoes and vegetables or, fusion style, teamed with excellent bacon and a gooey fried egg.
Details: Malabar House, 1/268 – 1/269 Parade Road, Fort Cochin, Kerala, India 682001(Ph +91 484 2216666).
Damage: Pricey. A deluxe room is €230 a night.
Gourmet Chick was a guest of Malabar House.
|Fishmongers by the Chinese Fishing nets in Fort Cochin|
Gourmet Travel Tips
- Kingfisher flies from London to Delhi for £500 return. A flight with Indigo from Delhi to Cochin costs Rs6,000 and takes just under three hours.
- In the fort Mattancherry Palace and the Pardesi Synagogue are both good to visit and we liked walking around the antique stores and watching the Chinese fishing nets in operation. You can buy fish fresh there from the fishmongers and have them cook it for you as well.