Monday, 1 May 2017

Best places to eat in Fort Kochi, Kerala

God's own country, Kerala, hosts a history of spice trading, an abundance of fish, cashews and coconuts and an ayurvedic way of life. I visited Munnar, Alleppey and Fort Kochi earlier this year and while there were the most stunning views of the lush tea farms in Munnar and incomparable sunsets over the network of lakes in Alleppey - which also had the best home cooked food in the homestays, Fort Kochi was clearly the centre for a diverse culinary trail of Kerala's best-known dishes. 

Some of the places I enjoyed in Fort Kochi:

Fort House restaurant 
There is a beautiful garden to walk through before you enter the restaurant and for a fantastic view over the water, get a table on the pier. Highlight dishes included the prawn coconut curry with a rich tomato base with curry leaves. The aubergine curry, with jeera rice and the paneer, with chunks of red onion and green peppers are also worth trying. 

Dal Roti
You will see this on the top of many lists of best restaurants in Fort Kochi and while iIwas thinking of avoiding it in favour of south Indian cuisine, this north Indian cafe / restaurant served absolutely delicious thalis of some of the best north Indian restaurant food I have tasted. The thali pictured was the vegetarian one consisting of a creamy tarka dal with the toasted cumin and garlic coming through in every mouthful, rice, chapatti, a spicy paneer curry with a tomato base with lots of coriander, gobi (curried cauliflower), aloo baingain (potato and aubergine) and a cooling raita. The raita, made with carrot, cucumber and mint took up a welcome spot within the thali as the food here is slightly spicier than the other tourist focused restaurants catering for a western palate. 

Mary's Kitchen
An unassuming rooftop restaurant serving traditional fish dishes and, I must say, a fabulously hot, salty, cheesy naan. The staff are friendly and our waiter saw my north indian stamp of approval for his Punjabi dish of aloo gobi a jewel in the crown. Unless he says that to all the north Indians.  

A cafe which I am sure you will be directed to on Trip Adviser and Lonely PlanKashi Kashi Art Cafe, which we visited when we were in need of a lighter breakfast after nine consecutive days of a morning curry. While the coffee gave us some much needed rocket fuel, it is geared to the western visitors, with the menu focusing on granola, pancakes and toast - so not a venue for more authentic fare. 

It wasn't just tea and lakes in Munnar and Alleppey. While restaurants are slim pickings in Munnar, it is definitely worth heading over to Saravana Bhavan for lunch for great parathas, thalis and dosas. It is open in the evenings but, it seems with a more limited menu, so try going for lunch if you want to be spoiled for choice. 

I cannot give any pointers when it comes to restaurants in Alleppey as we did not venture beyond our peaceful homestay, Lovedale Lakeside Homestay. While I am sure that great food can be found upon the houseboats, the homestays in Alleppey seem to be where the best home-cooked and traditional food can be found. Some highlights at Lovedale included an endless provision of parathas, grilled seer fish, a Keralan favourite and the best prawn curry I have ever tasted, where the prawns bathed in a rich sauce of coconut, curry leaves and caramelised onions. And a fresh pineapple juice to wash down the breakfasts of idli and appam was a pleasure every morning. 

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