Even now, I can smell the fresh air with a hint of river water fragrance amalgamating the lives beneath and around into one.
Even now, I can visualise the endless landscapes of river gently folding over a distant island only to peak out in form of blazing sun.
Even now, I can feel the warmth of ayurvedic oils and scents quick creeping into every fragile nerve in my system.
Even now, I can hear the chirping birds and the gurgling rivers when the fishes jumped out either in joy or amusement each time we passed by.
Even now, most importantly, I can relish the taste on my palette that demystified all that I had ever thought of the Malyalee cuisine. And this I say in positive connotation. The limits that I had set myself mentally to the extent which food can taste good was broken when I tasted the real authentic cuisine.
My quest for finding good recipes and once found improvising them, took me to the kitchen of our resort. Even on the houseboat ride, I spent about 50% of the time in the boat kitchen, chatting and learning some recipes. So much so that the owner gave me a few packets of his masalas and asked me to try them back home…the only glitch is he gave meat masalas…
And did I tell you that I bought a few Kgs of spices (cardamom, cloves, black pepper etc) , appam chetti, achappam mould, dried herbs, dried chilly papads, banana chips, murukkus, palm jaggery , poppy seeds and many many more things…so much that my husband had to declare at the airport that we are planning to consume food and not resale…To ensure that he thinks it was not a foodie outing I did encourage him to buy me a few silk drapes :), just because he insisted
And about the recipe…although I have made appam umpteem number of times, I wanted to try it again once I returned. I wont say this is the most authentic recipe, because I learnt it from the chef at the resort who hailed from delhi. But he had kept all the visitors happy including me with his version of Kerala Cuisines. So when on the resort activity list, there was cooking activity with chef , I promptly landed outside the restaurant 5 min before time. I was the sole participant for that activity. The chef said, I will teach today “Mumbai’s special chat”. Imagine my reaction…I got up and told him, that I can teach you that as well, please teach me something from kerala. This led to a big discussions first in english then hindi and gradually malyalee.. The malyalee part was with more zeal and probably the only time, the chef was able to express himself better even though it was not his first, second or third language…which meant that I was not going to learn anything.. I persisted, hanging around as if the last important thing left in my life was learning how to cook from this adamant chef.
He did not relent, but his assistant chef, had a brilliant idea, he told me that why dont you come tomorrow morning when we do live counters for dosas and omlettes for breakfast. I can easily take request for some special dishes, like you say, you dont eat garlic or onion and I can make a special jain version of stews and also share some tips for appams. You know what I did after that…
2 cups rice flour (fine)
1 tspn freshly grated coconut
1 tspn baking powder
1 tbsp milk
1 tspn sugar
salt to taste
oil to cook
1) Soak the rice flour in milk and some water.
2) Grind the coconut and add it to the rice flour mixture
3) Mix the batter. Add some milk. Mix till you get the consistency of dosa
4) Add sugar and salt and mix again. Let is stand for 20 to 30 min
5) Now add the baking powder and mix well
6) Heat your appam chetti (deep kadhai nonstick or iron). Wipe it using kitchen towel dabbed in oil
7) Pour a ladle of batter. Gently rotate the batter so that it spread out to the sides of the pan
8) Cover the appam with lid
9) Let it cook for 2 to 3 min.
10) Gently lift and serve
I also made tomato ginger chutney to go along with this to bring some zing. But since that recipe falls in the tamilnadu category you have to wait until we travel there…