Maxwell Scott Travel had arranged for us to stay at Ayisha Manzil in Thalassery a bit further South along our journey through Kerala. This is a unique home stay right in the town on the top of a hill over looking the sea.
Their star selling point is the food on offer and the wife of the couple who run the accommodation has cookery classes in her kitchen which obviously we jumped at the chance of getting involved in!
The house itself is drenched in history with the structure being built back in 1862 by an East India Company tradesman. It was then purchased by the current owner’s grandfather Mr.T.M.Moosa who was a well known local spice merchant. The furniture throughout the house is all antique and the grandeur as you walk into your bedroom with large four poster beds and grandfather clocks.
We started our day off with a trip to the local fish market and were escorted round by the very proud Moosa who clearly has many friends among the fishmongers!
The beauty of this trip was we were selecting fresh fish and meat for our lunch and supper that evening.
It was great to really get among the locals and they loved the concept of digital cameras and asked in a friendly manner ‘take a picture’, which we obliged!
The cooking class by Moosa’s wife Faiza was great, she was very clear in the steps and we cooked up a storm (with a little help of course).
That evening we feasted with the other two guests on a fiery tamarind prawn curry, fried kingfisher and shredded cabbage with coconut. Our favourite technique we learnt was how to cook Bhatura which involved a lot of hot oil and flicking on top to get the bubbles popping up.
We were lucky enough to be able to witness the traditional North Malabar Theyyam dancing which is an important ritual for the locals.
They believe that various Gods are present within the bodies of members of the lower caste who then present themselves as the Gods in a form of dance at the local village shrines. It was an incredible thing to witness and it clearly means so much to the locals.
Ayisha Manzil was a very interesting couple of days, the homestay itself can feel a little dated and quiet but the local sites we saw were fascinating and very much not something every tourist is lucky to experience.