Paradisa Plantation Retreat (Gourmet Chick in India)

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I’m always prepared to travel for good food so I did not baulk at a three hour drive on a windy road to reach Paradisa Plantation Retreat.   The reward of the journey there was the best home cooking I found in India.
 
Tea plantations at Tyfords Tea Factory which you can tour from Paradisa

I was invited to review Paradisa which is set high up in Kerala’s lush cardamon hills. The team in the kitchen is headed up by the talented and affable manager of the retreat Roy Mathews and the food is authentically Keralan drawing on the traditional recipes and produce of the local area.  Breakfast at the resort started with a refreshing lime and ginger juice and then moved on to an abundant platter of fresh tropical fruits followed by either a masala (mixed) omelette or puri masala, a traditional Keralan dish of puffed bread with a stew of masala potatoes.

Tropical fruit platter for breakfast (this was to share between two)
 

For lunch, a fillet of seer fish with a thick crust of spices was teamed with thick grained, fluffy Keralan chamba rice and vegetable kotu curry roaring with garam masala.

Seer fish fillet

Dinners during my stay at Paradisa were epic feasts leaving me barely able to waddle down the steps to my room.  To start a vegetable cutlet with mashed vegetables shaped into a patty, delicately spiced and fried.  Next was a peppery pumpkin soup with added zing from flecks of ginger and garlic.  Then our plates were heaped with a pungent fish curry made from meaty, firm seer fish alongside aromatic and moist okra and a dish called thoren which was made from snake gourd mixed with coconut.  This was accompanied by the lightest most ethereal paratha bread and a sweet banana chutney.  Dessert was simple but delicious grilled pineapple dusted with palm sugar and cinnamon.

Pomegranate, Orange and cucumber salad

Meals were served in an open air pavilion with panoramic views of the plantation and surrounding hills.  The only negative to the dining experience at Paradisa was the limited nature of the drinks on offer which are confined to beer and quaffable Sula wine.

Vegetable cutlet

The job of Paradisa’s chefs is made much easier by the retreat’s setting in a verdant 23 acre working organic coffee and spice plantation.  It brought home the concept of paddock to plate to wander around the plantation and see the spices growing and then taste them in dinner that night.

The swimming pool – check out the quirky shape

Paradisa was the dream of the owner, Keralan local Simon Paulose.  He set about building a personal getaway for himself in the hills which turned into the intimate resort that exists today.   “The eccentricity of youth”, explained Simon.  Simon is passionate about Keralan culture and the property contains 12 traditional wooden Keralan houses (ours dated back 168 years) which have been loving restored.  Paradisa has Simon’s personal stamp all over it with 1,000 year old stone columns he has carefully preserved leading the way to the dining pavilion and a swimming pool which is quirkily designed in the shape of his wife’s foot.

Inside our traditional Kelaran house at Paradisa

The retreat is understated rather than ultra luxurious so the power goes off occasionally and there is no room service.  It does not have the polish of some other resorts and there is also no television, telephone or internet but this all adds to the feeling of getting away from it all.   Simon has succeeded in creating an intimate and unique retreat for food lovers where I felt I discovered the real Kerala.

Essentials
Details: Paradisa Plantation Retreat, Kottayum-Kumily Road, Near Thekkady, Kerala, India (Ph +91  469 2701311)
Damage: Pricey.  Rs12,500 ($247/£155) for bed and breakfast and an additional Rs1,050 for meals.
8/10

Gourmet Chick was a guest of Paradisa Plantation Retreat.  

Video review of my room at Paradisa

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.  
  • Paradisa can organise transfers from Cochin to the retreat for Rs2,700 one way however it is best to hire a car and driver for your whole time at Paradisa as it is quite isolated.  
  • We spent our time exploring the plantation’s grounds on walks, having a cooking class with Roy, visiting the nearby Tyford tea factory and just relaxing by the foot shaped pool.   

10 comments

  1. This the Kerala of my fantasies…

  2. Oohh…Kerala and Goa are two places on my list I have to go….=)

  3. Beyond beyond beyond amazing! I’m obsessed with Kerala and wish I had known about this place when I was there last year.

  4. Wow, you are always finding the most fantastic places Cara, hope you are having a good time in India. You are missed.

    Lx

  5. o my god! I always wanted to go to Kerala and Goa, have all the guides but haven’t put it to action yet. Thanks for this amazing review! Looks like you had a great time…

  6. It sounds like a lovely place to visit! And I wish I was closer to these places so I could pop over for a weekend!

  7. I visited Kerala a few years ago with my family and this post has taken me straight back… The food is absolutely incredible – such variety and beautiful, clean flavours. Wish I was back there now!

  8. Tori – It is the sort of place to fantastise about

    Kay – It was on my wish list for a while as well!

    Andi- Yes there is lots to see in India

    Ute – I didn’t make it to Goa this trip but can highly recommend Kerala

    Lorraine – Sadly a little far for a weekend from Sydney I think

    The Little Loaf – It is such a beautiful place isn’t it? More posts to come on Fort Cochin and cruising the backwaters on a house boat.

  9. What a beautiful Post! After seeing this I really miss home.Originally from Mumbai, have travelled to Kerala and it is so serene.

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