Wednesday, 26 January 2011

India adventure part 2

We arrived in the coastal state of Kerala on Tuesday evening after a fairly painless flight from Delhi. We managed to share taxi with a German couple from Frankfurt, to the Fort Kochi area where we wanted to stay. When we all got out of the car one and an half hours later there was a scene to be seen! A marching political parade. There were drummers and elephants and literally a fair few hundred people holding flags and walking in line. We fought our way through this crowd after some hellos and waves and took the short ferry ride across the water for 2.5 Rupees which is around 3p.

Surprisingly most of the hotels and home stays had very Christian references and we realised we were in a heavily Catholic area, probably developed from the Portuguese influences. We settled in Green Woods Bethlehem with the lovely Sheeba and her husband, who fussed over us from the word go. We were taken upstairs for tea and fruit and the very green and warm surroundings on the roof were more like the India I had been dreaming of. No hassling tuk tuks and touts only green palm trees, bamboo roofs and jungle book noises. The south of India is much more to my liking.

For breakfast we were served more delicious fresh pineapple, sweet banana and a huge slice of sponge cake. I could not put my finger on the taste  but I knew I had had something similar before, so I asked Sheeba for the recipe, which she gave me off the top of her head. The secret ingredient was yogurt!  Of course! I used to make a yogurt cake when I was growing up and this is what I as trying to remember.

We headed out into Fort Cochi and Sheeba's husband recommended that we visit the Chinese fishing nets. These were some amazing structures on the north coast and there were half a dozen slowly lowered into the fairly polluted sea and then heaved back out. There were not many fish being caught. We were ushered onto one of the huge nets and the crew thrust a couple of live fish in our faces, then a rope each for us to pull. We hauled the net out the water and eagerly awaited our catch, but there were about 3 small mullets in the bottom. Not great.

Along the same road there were a number of fishmongers selling baby sharks, huge king prawns, fish and squid. We plucked for two very large blue scampi and a couple of squid. We paid and then a man took us down the road to his restaurant to cook them up with some ginger on the grill.

He also allowed us to watch as he cleaned and prepared the shellfish, and literally ripped the skin off the squid. The kitchen area was certainly not up to any kind of standard, with a cat eagerly waiting to catch any tip bits from the floor. Luckily, we could see the food was fresh and piping hot when we were served it fresh from the grill and we tucked in with some lemon rice.


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