Monday, September 26, 2016

Satvic Food, Kochi, August 2016

Though I appreciate all kinds of world foods and have realised that tastes are formed early on and by many individual factors, I tend to most relish Indian vegetarian food, especially the South Indian variety. Even in this narrow definition there is diversity as the foods of Andhra or Karnataka are quite different from those of Tamil Nadu or Kerala. 

By and large the cuisine of Kerala is equated with seafood delicacies and, in the mood of the present times, with a particular kind of meat. And it is true that these preparations are often quite tasty, albeit with high chilli quotient. 

In contrast, it is rare to find samples of benign "home food" type meals in restaurants. Thus, I was lucky to get to eat at the Amrita School of Arts and Sciences, Kochi. The food is tasty, simple yet always diverse in content. The one steady factor is the superb amla pickle.

Compared to the 80s when I used to visit Kerala frequently, the variety and quantity and quality of vegetables has increased. The brown things in the foreground are called elephant-foot yam

Gourds of various kinds are also popularly used in the cuisine of Kerala. 

While, once upon a time, bananas were almost the only fruit served at the average home in Kerala, today fruit stalls line the roads and routinely offer exotic varieties such as the hairy red rambutan you see in the front row.

Kerala is also blessed with a generous family of snack foods and such bakeries abound. Alas, I have not had the chance to feast on these as the focus is generally on meals and I have poor digestion: I can't eat a meal and have my snacks too.

Also, I fear disappointment. Long ago, when I was a young girl in Puducherry, there existed an establishment called "Grand Bakery". I've heard that the owners were once part of a circus but, more pertinently, they made amazing doughnuts and Christmas cakes. 

So I stuck to veggies and was not disappointed! Above you see carrots and beans readied for a Theeyal.

The Theeyal included elephant-foot yam and a separate dry dish was made with the parwal. You can see it in the centre in the picture below.

I'm not much of a fish fan but to go by the fishmongers all around and some aromas wafting to me as I strolled along the streets of Edappally, fresh seafood dishes must be heavenly here.

One hardly missed all rich restaurant fare, in any case, as every day brought a new delight to the table.

Puttu one day, puris the next, idlis or dosas or upma, breakfast was ever a pleasant surprise!

In Kerala, coconut is used in many dishes and it has many health benefits besides enriching the taste.

The institute has a lot of gadgets for making large quantities of food to serve staff and students. 

It is an incredible sight to watch the kitchen staff in action, working in smooth harmony to chop and cook so many different ingredients! It is an echo of the general ambience of the School where the many diverse threads that form the symphony called India come together to form a sacred melody.

No comments: