Kochi’s spice laden history is support by generations of people who produced the spices traded at the port city, the hinterland behind Kochi and the Western Ghat mountains bordering Tamil Nadu is a rich spice producing countryside. Transportation around these areas would have been impossible by land, so a series of canals have been dug, criss crossing the Keralan countryside this huge transport network is known as the Keralan backwaters
It’s a lovely experience cruising the backwaters in a non-motorised boat, the tranquil sound of the pole men working, the coconut palm lined waterways dense with foliage, the soaring birds of prey, agile kingfishers and clumsy seagulls adding extra interest.
Few stops with the daytime jaunt showed a little of the cottage industries of the area, the coconut rope making very interesting indeed. A provided lunch was an authentic eating experience, a continuously served vegetarian thali served Kerala style, on a banana leaf.
One of the other benefits of the backwaters is the brackish waters, this murky mix of fresh and salt waters results in great prawns, lots of them. I few great dishes I tried in Kochi included.
Prawns and pumpkin with coconut milk – I suspect this may be a slightly less than traditional dish, but who cares when it tastes this good? The sweet, smooth pumpkin sauce, laced with onions has a faint hint of curried spices, a little tang of tamarind and some excellent prawns.
Prawns molee – Having tried fish molee a few meals earlier a prawn variation sounded delightful, on this instance the sauce of coconut milk, ginger, mustard seed, curry leaves and turmeric had only a faint amount of green chilli and less pepper.
Prawns masala – This was quite a fresh, chunky masala, meaning the composite ingredients of the masala base tomato, onion, and garlic and ginger hadn’t been cooked until the were mushy. The Keralan spices cinnamon, cardamom, pepper, clove, mustard seeds and a good slug of fresh red chilli. A full on flavour fest.