We said our goodbyes to Shanta and took a more traditional mode of Indian transport in the form of a 4.5 hour train journey down to Cochin.
This was a great experience although I did choose to cross my legs until we made it safely to the hotel (although I’m sure the train toilets would have been absolutely fine…)
We were in the air conditioned car with the fried goodies being served up and down the aisles, perhaps Virgin can start introducing curries as a meal on the go!
We arrived in the evening and were taken to our home for the next few days Malabar House.
This hotel gets rave reviews and was recently awarded Best Boutique hotel in Asia (World Travel Awards 2014). It was evening when we arrived so we decided to enjoy the tasting menu on offer at the hotel. You dine outside in front of relaxing live music surrounded by low hanging trees and a few other intimate diners.
We went halves on both ‘degustation menus’ which comes to about £20 per person. This may not sound like a lot but compared to India prices it is very expensive and you don’t quite get the portions that you’re used to throughout the journey so far (which might not be such a bad thing)! With the wine on top the bill does creep up rather a lot, but did you know that Indian wine is actually very nice, white in particular.
First up was the crab and plantain cutlet, then marinated and sesame crusted tuna. The tuna was the winner and being so close to the coast you get to enjoy wonderful fish.
Next was Ivy gourd and aubergine theeyal and ‘Banana triptych’. Gourds were my favourite vegetable on the trip and they come in incredible shapes and sizes, this was a lovely mild curry with ‘Uppuma’ a thick porridge from dry roasted semolina.
The banana dish was served in three ways, as a flower tartlet, crispy plantain fritters and as a vol au vent. It was a little too westernised as a dish which was a bit of a disappointment.
My favourite dish was probably the tiger prawns in mango Moilly served with ‘appam’, a pancake made with fermented rice batter and coconut milk.
The second dish was also a tiger prawns dish but in a thakkali curry which we continued to have throughout the trip and absolutely loved.
Final dish before pudding was ‘kappayum meenum’ a local fish curry which was divine and the other option was very westernised, duck duet that was tasty but wouldn’t have been our choice while in India.
Now the pudding was Lawrence’s star of the evening a stack of flakey pastry and coconut mousse with coconut water jelly and fudge sauce.
The second one was Vattelappam, a baked desert with caramelised fruit layers served with coconut sorbet, lovely but outshone by the coconut supreme.
It was a lovely relaxing evening but did feel very strange being surrounded by westerners having a smart meal, rather missed our local haunts eating large amounts of curry and rice!