The food of Kerala is yet another attraction to this wonderful part of India.
In God’s Own Country the simple way of life, undisturbed by the passage of time, is still a reality – and that extends to the food of Kerala which is prepared in homes according to traditional family recipes, often handed down from generation to generation.
People still grow their own vegetables, catch their own fish, prepare coconut oil from dried coconut, and grind masala from sun-dried spices.
Stay in a Kerala homestay and you’ll, quite literally, get a flavour.
You’ll be able to experience night fishing and can even receive Kerala cookery lessons from your host.
Different tastes and specialties
The cuisine of Kerala is distinctive and delicious. Tamarind heightens its pungency, while coconut adds richness and absorbs some of the spice.
Each region of Kerala has its own specialty. Along the backwaters of the Alleppey region, it’s karimeen, a type of fish which is fried lightly. The whole region is renowned for its fresh seafood, caught daily in time-honoured style by fishermen with nets in rickety narrow wooden canoes, called vallams.
Night fishing – catch your dinner
Choose an Alleppey homestay and you’ll get the opportunity to join the fishermen in their forays for seafood, and later take part in the cooking process and learn how it’s done. If you love Indian food, it’s an authentic experience that you and your taste buds will relish.
Night fishing brings the chance to catch lobster, prawns and green clams. From the banks of Vembanad Lake, fishermen can be seen gliding by in their boats, ghost-like in the moonlight. The eager chattering of crickets, the warm glow of the men’s kerosene lamps, and the gentle swish of the boat’s oars set the scene for adventure.
Out on the lake, the peacefulness is pervading. The fishermen’s muscles ripple as bait and nets are cast into the lake. If you’re patient, and willing to stay out late into the night, you just might be successful in catching an elusive lobster. It could take until after midnight though. Green clams are a much more prevalent bounty. Fishermen pass by with canoes piled full with small shells.
The climax of night fishing is seeing what’s inside the net when it’s hauled in. However, even if it’s empty, an evening spent out on the lake is memorable enough. Such absolute stillness and serenity are hard to come by. When shared with a loved one, it’s even more special. You’ll find yourself forgetting that a chaotic, hectic world full of people exists.
Learn to cook the food of Kerala
A cooking class the day after your night fishing experience will round off an enjoyable culinary exploration.
Half an hour is all it takes to whip up one vegetarian and one non-vegetarian dish, guided by your friendly host. Fresh curry leaves, chillies, spices, chopped onion and coconut oil will create a tantalising aroma. Fish curry is a popular choice to learn how to prepare. Many people also enjoy cooking green clams around a fire, under palm trees by the lake.
Sitting down to dine on these delicacies, complemented with wide variety of other homemade Kerala dishes that your host will tell you all about, is a delight.
Find out about the homestay experience and don't forget to check out our ideas on things to do in India or browse our India homestays.