Saturday, 7 July 2012

Fort Kochi: Gourmet Trail

Colonial Kochi - that is Fort Kochi, Mattencherry and Kunnupuram is a gourmet's delight with boutique hotels and cafes serving a wide range of local cuisine along with the Mediterranean, Jewish, continental, North India and South Asian. Being a coastal area, a huge variety of seafood, fresh water fish find its way into the palette. The culinary journey comprises of shrimps, mussels, prawns, lobsters and squids cooked the way one wants to. The favourite way of cooking these sea foods is grilled or curried.  The local Kerala cuisine also has a wide range of family secret recipes and Syrian christian cuisine. Kochi is also known for its fiery Karimeen fish curry which is best taken with the local heady brew toddy.The culinary delights of Fort Kochi demands a well deserved walk through and here is one.
Speciality Restaurants
History Restaurant - Brunton Boatyard
Vypen Jetty Beachfront - Fort Kochi
Eating at Brunton Boatyard’s History Restaurant is literally a journey through history. It is a mecca of fusion dishes. Each dish reflects a different community. And 30 different communities living in Kochi all tell their own special story. Beef Cutlets speak of an Anglo Indian heritage. Fish lovers savoring the flavor of Samak Bil Harder Asful are transported to Arabia. There's Fish Moilee with its Syrian Christian roots. The Vindaloo transports you to the time of Vasco da Gama. Finish it with a Dutch Pudding with a lingering trace of cinnamon. Steak Fernandez, the pepper crusted succulent steak is a house speciality. At the History Restaurant, these cuisines have been given a new lease of life, recreated faithfully each evening by chefs who did their research in the best place possible - with the old families of Cochin. Chef Ajeeth Janardhan is fussy abut getting fresh ingredients. He says "if we can't get fresh ingredients, we won't serve that dish". The Brunton gets a daily delivery of fresh seafood, spices and condiments.
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                                            History Restaurant - Brunton Boatyard

Signature Dish - First Class Railway Mutton Curry





One of the signature dishes, the First Class Railway Mutton Curry is made from a secret recipe. The mutton is cooked in a brass pot for six whole hours. This allows the spices to infuse and makes the mutton both mild and tender.
The story goes that an English army officer, while travelling in a train, found himself ravishingly hungry. He followed his nose to the pantry car where a spicy mutton curry was simmering. He was offered a taste, whence he burnt his tongue because of the spices. The helpful cook reduced the pungency with some coconut milk and served it up. From that day on this became a staple on all First Class Compartments of the train.

1788 - Old Harbour Hotel
Tower Road - Fort Kochi

With a lovely alfresco poolside arrangement, the restaurant offers contemporary European and fusion Indo-French cuisine. For a fine-dining experience, little beats 1788.
Food has always been an important criterion at 1788. The freshness of the ingredients and sea foods is a predominant feature. Home made breads and plenty of freshly squeezed juices go very well with the food. They use organically grown vegetables awhile the meats are of the highest quality available.  Chef has painstakingly conjured up an array of dishes to suit various taste palates.Crispy calamari with Parmesan cream, Pumpkin Olan, Crab Ularthiyathu and Chocolate pudding are testimony of the painstakingly crafted dish prepared by the Chefs

Malabar Junction - Malabar House
Parade Ground - Fort Kochi

Malabar junction, the gourmet restaurant is the crossroads of tradition & innovation of South India & the west. Specialising in refined & market fresh food, this is reputed to be one of the finest seafood restaurants in the South. The food here is traditional fare with a contemporary Mediterranean twist.  Kuttanad roast duck, or shredded duck bathed in gently spiced coconut cream with fennel and pineapple for an excellent contrast in flavour, accompanied by fragile, crispy appams is the sought after dish. The peppery Kerala-style lamb cooked with curry leaves, coconut and shallots, served with upma is another signature combination. 
Use of fresh ingredients, local spices and freshest fish, meat are hall mark of all standard restaurants in Fort Kochi and Malabar House is no exception.

Menorah - Koder House
Tower Road, Fort Kochi

Menorah, the multi cuisine restaurant is glittering tribute to the hotel’s Jewish heritage. It has the rare distinction of being the only restaurant in India to serve Jewish food.
The carefully chosen menu however goes beyond Jewish delicacies. It is in fact, a melting pot just like Fort Cochin, offering Kerala, Jewish and Continental, Indian cuisine. Since the beach with its historic Chinese fishing nets is but a step away, seafood, naturally, is the restaurant’s main draw. Their Kerala and continental offerings both make generous use of the bounty of the sea.
Family recipes have been sourced from the length and breadth of the state to cook up regional favourites like Malabar Fish Curry from the North, Meen Pollichathu from the central areas and Alleppey Prawn curry from the heart of backwater country. Menorah prepares these dishes to authentic recipes, using the fresh catch of the day.
In recognition of Fort Cochin’s international appeal and multicultural heritage, the restaurant also serve some of the finest continental delicacies in the area. Pastas with authentic ingredients and light sauces are quite popular. If you’d like to encapsulate the Koder House experience in one dish, then do order their signature offering - the Mix Grill Seafood Platter. Finish your meal with the Jewish pudding or the local favourite - Kerala payasam.

Dal Roti
Lilly Street - Parade Ground - Fort Kochi
Dal Roti is a no frills restaurant on the quieter and quaint Lilly Street near Parade Ground. Operating out of a mansion with a front veranda shrouded behind the trees and plants. The inner hall is fairly big with high ceilings. The simple decor compliments the relaxed eating experience that this restaurant offers.
What distinguishes Dal Roti is the kind of North India food that you get here, the service with smile of Ramesh - the owner, the kind of interest that he shows in what you order and above all the portion in each dish that you get. Kathi roll would be so heavy with chicken that you would be searching for onion and capsicum. The Biryani will be loaded with chicken chunks, more chicken than rice. It is open for lunch and dinner, closed on Tuesdays. Last dinner order is taken @ 10:15 pm. The cost is also reasonable, a meal for 2 with 2 non veg dishes including roti / naan, biryani / rice will not even cross Rs.300/- (approx 7 dollars).
The food is a combination of signature dishes from North Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. The menu includes thalis as well as a la carte dishes. The Lachidhar parathas eaten with chicken or any other curry is an amazing combination.

Mango Tree Restaurant - Old Courtyard Hotel
Princess Street - Fort Kochi
Mango Tree is a multi cuisine restaurant with an excellent roof top locality. A 65 years old mango tree spreads over the roof top. They serve tasty Tibetan momos, Italian pizzas, continental, Thai, Chinese and Indian tandoori dishes. Their signature dish Fish in banana leaf is a real treat. The dinner time is marked by local musicians playing some fine music, goes down well with the ambiance.     Signature Dish: Grilled pom fret wrapped in banana leaves with kerala appam.

Arca Nova Restaurant - The Fort House Hotel
Beachfront - Fort Kochi
Arca Nova Restaurant at the The Fort House hotel on the waterfront is a cool place to enjoy traditional as well as European dishes in a waterfront ambiance with cool sea breeze on your face. The finely crafted menu offers the traditional Kochi recipes along with the European favourites. Seafood cooked in the Kerala Syrian Christian style is their speciality. Their recipes are sourced from the local families and tweaked to provide a wholesome treat to any foodie.
Their banana leaf seer fish eaten with soft appam is a treat in itself. You could also try their Mozambique prawns with kerala rice and vegetable thoran (curry).

Oceanos Seafood - Elphinstone Residency
Parade Ground - Fort Kochi
Head to Oceanos for lip-smacking Mediterranean cuisine. The multi-cuisine seafood restaurant at Elphinstone Residency, a leafy hotel in the quieter part of Fort Kochi behind the Bishop's House serves freshest sea food cooked to perfection the way you wish it to be in a languid pace that allows you to savour the exotic taste of the seafood and the various spices that blends with the food so easily yet retains its identity and tickles every taste buds.
Kayikka's Biryani - Rahmatullah Hotel
Aanavaadal - Mattencherry


Rahmatullah Hotel started in 1948 by the Kayikka, a famous Biryani cook serves lip smacking Biryani from the humble restaurant located in the muslim quarters of Mattencherry. Their mutton biryani - long rice cooked in ghee and masalas with succulent mutton pieces is a wholesome meal in itself. Rice, spices and mutton pieces are placed in layers in large cooking vessel covered and sealed with dough, let to cook on wood fire for several hours. The steam mingles with the rice and mutton and spreads the aroma which is retained due to sealed container. Burning charcoal is placed on the sealed cover to lend smoky aroma to the dish.  People line up to partake this legendary food here from all parts of Kochi.
Shala
Peter Celli Street - Fort 
A small eatery standing next door to Cafe Teapot on Peter Celli Street serves local cuisine cooked by the local housewives. The food obviously is home cooked, no frills and authentic Kerala cuisine. Go for lunch and dinner for a fill of local dishes and very light on pocket. Yummy!

Upstairs
K B Jacob Road. Santa Cruz Basilica - Fort Kochi

For true blue Italian cuisine one has to head to Upstairs run by Italian couple Fabio and Ayesha. Operating out of the first floor of an old mansion atop the floor with line of shops. The wooden stairs leads to tastefully designed dining area with 40 covers. You may choose to sit in the dining hall or the veranda seating which overlooks the Santa Cruz Basilica.
A variety of vegetarian and non vegetarian trattoria style Italian dishes - lasagna, pasta, pizza, crepes, sea foods, salads are the usual fare here. The charming owners are always around to help you with your food selection. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and operates from 8:30 in the morning and last order is taken around 10 in the night. They are closed on Tuesdays. We quite enjoyed the crepes and pastas. And yes their blackboard menu with day's specials written in colourful chalks was quite an appetizer!


Cafes

Cafe Teapot
Peter Celli Street - Fort Kochi
                                                   Cafe Teapot - The Tea Room
While in Fort Kochi, if you are looking for a perfect cuppa of the rich brew (tea) head to the mustered colour painted twin level tea house on Peter Celli Street. This is 'the' place at Fort Kochi for excellent teas in about 50 odd varieties.

We visited this place in June 11 and we fell in love so much that over a period of 3 days we experienced the great hospitality of Tea Pot on 6 occasions. Experience of every visit was better than the previous one.

As you enter the tea house, what amazes one is its laid back atmosphere, no waiter hanging behind your neck for the order. But the order arrives promptly. The polite waiters talk to you as if they are in whispers. They silently cater what you have ordered. The tea is served in different kind of tea pot every time, always perfectly brewed. The chocolate cake and sandwiches are perfect foil for the tea. You can choose from Darjeeling, Assam and Nilgiris, exotic new flavours, hot or cold. They serve English breakfast, high tea, snacks and light meals.



They also serve several varieties of fish, chicken and vegetarian dishes which goes perfectly well with rice. I particularly liked their Mustard Fish and Fish Korma. Perfectly spiced fish with rich yellow and green curry are excellent.

And you can experience all this surrounded by about 200 odd tea pots of various size, make,colour and design. They are on the racks, show cases, on the table and hung from the ceiling. These lovely tea pots are everywhere. You can spend few hours admiring these tea pots. Oh yes, they have a centre table, the base of which is an old tea plant and other table bases here are nothing but old tea chests. There are antiques and memorabilia related to tea all around you. The walls have simple pen and ink drawings of tea cups, there is an old Indian poster on tea which were in vogue when tea was first introduced in India as a daily brew in the 40's and 50's.  


Oy's Cafe
Burgher Street - Fort Kochi

Oy's Cafe is part of the Oy's Homestay on the laid back and relaxed Burgher Street off the Tower Road in Fort Kochi. It is a cool and chilled out place with low seating with cushions thrown in. Ideal m a relaxed dining experience. Reasonable, rather cheaply priced food and drinks are served here by the friendly staff.  For a refreshing drink opt for mint lime juice, ginger and lime juice or the cold coffee. They also serve well prepared golden fry prawns.

Cafe Crafters
Jew Road - Above Crafters - Jew Town

This is a nice airy place to take a much needed break after a hectic walking and shopping spree in the antique hub Jew Town. The cafe is operated by the antique dealers Crafters and it is accessed through the stairs that leads up from one of their several outlets. Located on the first floor overlooks the rectangular tri-junction on Jew Street that leads to Pardesi synagogue. The place is nicely decorated with the antiques from the store below, one could even term it as an extension of the store.
Food options are limited more of snacks rather than the whole meal, good for quick bites - sandwiches, burgers, salads and refreshing drink. Though they also serve the kerala fish curry meal, stew and appam.
The prices are on the higher side and portions small. The small balcony overlooking the street is great for watching the antiquated bazaar downstairs. Airy dining room decorated with  carved wood screens is quite pleasing.

David Hall
Parade Ground - Fort Kochi

David Hall is an art gallery opposite the Parade Ground housed in a Dutch built 17th century mansion. The place is run by the CGH Earth, the legendary hotel chain of Kerala. The back veranda opening into the green lawns has been converted into a small cafe serving quick bites and Kerala stew with appam. Good for a quick bite in a relaxed and laid back atmosphere after a walk through Fort Kochi. Opens at 11 in the morning and shuts down early by 7 pm.

Kashi Art Cafe

Located on the quite and quaint Burgher Street is Kashi Art Cafe, housed in an old Kerala mansion and part of the Kashi Art Gallery. It is place for meeting friends, sharing relaxed and joyous moments over a delicious spread of quick bites as well as meals and refreshing drinks.The airy open courtyard garden cafe is also a great place for meeting people from around the world.
Food is available from 8:30 in the morning to 7:30 in the night and one can have breakfast at any time of the day. Truly a freedom place!
Assorted sandwiches, freshly baked cakes, salads, soups and traditional Kerala cuisine is on offer along with refreshing coffee and juices. The ingredients used in food are fresh and organically grown. Try their home made chocolate cake.
Kashi remains open round the week. However, they remain closed from 1st to 30 June every year.

You Buy , I Cook
Tower Road - Opposite Delta Study - Fort Kochi


Fort Kochi’s ‘You buy, I cook’ beach side food stalls, not far from the Chinese fishing nets, offer good fresh seafood and beautiful views. These roadside food stalls lined opposite the Delta Study is the place if you are looking for freshly caught fish cooked to your taste and liking in a jiffy.
We purchased freshest prawns and seer fish from one of the fish stalls near the Chinese Fishing nets and handed over the catch to Abdullah who grilled the seer fish and barbecued prawns as per our instructions.
The stalls are open from lunch time to late in the night. The cooking charge would vary according to the amount of fish and the method of cooking. Ranges from Rs.50 onwards.

Toddy Shops
Looking for fiery kerala fish curry served in not so fussy ambiance and eat the way locals do then head for one of the Toddy shops (country liquor shops) that dot the town. Sit on wooden bench and order for generous karimeen served with kerala rice or puttu which is teamed in bamboo containers. Down this with the local brew toddy (juice of date, palm tree extracted overnight and collected early in the morning. Quit a heady brew it is! 
Choose from prawns, pomfret or the cuttle fish if you fancy.

                                                   A typical Toddy Shop and signage
       

2 comments:

juhi said...

amazing

Mona Jha said...

Nice blog!! Looks delicious, feel like grabbing the roll right away. Thank you Chowringhee Satya Niketan

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