Day 8: Kerala


canejuice vendor
cane juice vendor

The good guesthouse breakfasts come and the good guesthouse breakfast go. Following our two delicious breakfasts at our Kandy place we decided to give it another try in Kochi too. The guesthouse had been quite highly rated, and people who have commented seem to have appreciated the food. In our case we found the food somewhat lacking. It included a hard boiled egg, some toast made from sweet bread with a spongecake like texture (with the super clear jelly that seems to be a thing here), a piece of watermelon, a piece of papaya and a ‘banana pancake.’ For all our usual nitpicking, we have to say that the hard boiled egg was expertly done in at least one aspect, the peel came away easily without bring egg white along with it. Since neither of us has proven able to consistently produce properly peelable hard boiled eggs despite trying the whole range of internet/family tips, we have to give them their due. Otherwise, the papaya was under ripe, and the watermelon was dull. What wasn’t dull, though, was the banana pancakes. They seemed to be made with brown sugar or jaggery (raw cane sugar) and coconut flakes, and had a good crunchy sweetness. So not a total loss.

breakfast of infamy

After heading out for the day, we ran into a roadside vendor selling one of B’s favorite drinks, fresh pressed sugar  cane juice. She (well, both of us really), had developed a taste for this during our trip to Malaysia, where it is part of the huge variety of sugary sweet drinks. The version we had here was made with a slice of lime and a chunk of ginger folded into the cane for the last pass through the press. This stuff was amazing! Just a blast of refreshing sweetness with a lime tang and a touch of gingery bite.

cane juice
divine cane juice

Two classics of budget travel adventures later (city bus and train reservations at the station), we made our way to a super sketchy (but seemingly quite popular) restaurant we had seen on an Indian travel show on YouTube. It’s called Shappu Curry, and shappu refers to a toddy shop in the local language (toddy being a popular alcoholic drink made from fermented coconut juice). As far as we could tell, there was no toddy to be had, but toddy shops are also known to serve good, spicy food, and that was the thing we were looking for. The TV show we saw had shown two hosts eating a delicious array of curries with rice, all with banana leaves for plates. Yes, we are suckers for any meal that comes on a banana leaf. The basic fare here consisted of a scoop of rice surrounded by delicious spoonfuls of various curries (none of which are done any justice at all by the exposure challenged photo below; we recommend seeing this in person). There was a bright red beet curry, a bean curry, some kind of chopped vegetable coconut curry and green mango pickles. Apparently additional dishes are added a la carte, and we managed (somehow; there was no English menu) to have two fish and one shrimp curry delivered to our table. These were each absolutely stunningly rich and delicious, especially the smoky dark fish and shrimp versions. The individual flavors were difficult to make out, though clearly included the usual suspects. But the sum-is-greater-than-the-parts smoky goodness, with a perfect level of heat, put these dishes in the class of those we travel half way around the world to eat. To this, the added bonus was that we got to talk to a patron who sat down with us at the same table. He was quite complimentary about our ability to eat with our hands, and we shared some good conversation as we finished our meal.

sundry delights at Shappu Curry
shappu curry fish2
second fish curry, steamed in a banana leaf

In the evening, we were driven by the world’s most slow and rickety tuk tuk to a Hindu temple that was having their annual festival. The festival itself was interesting (including the many elephants), and on the way home we grabbed some of the fried snacks being sold along the ‘midway.’ One was a deep fried mild green chili (quite good), and the other was small chunks of fried cauliflower with a slightly sweet sauce that included whole curry leaves (also tasty). Finally, as we climbed into the deathtrap tuk tuk for the drive home, we grabbed a small ice cream bar. We’d been hoping for pistachio, which has proven elusive, but settled for chocolate dipped vanilla.

fried green chilies
fried cauliflower



3 thoughts on “Day 8: Kerala

  1. Ken Ballweg December 16, 2015 / 4:51 pm

    I’ve heard a rumor that that camera will actually take pictures of things other than food.


    • nucamb December 16, 2015 / 5:07 pm

      Mere rumor and propaganda. What would be the point?


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