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 Cochin Food

There is a variety of restaurants, coffee houses, snack bars, and street-side food stalls scattered in the downtown districts of Cochin and elsewhere offering a wide variety of food. Menus, from a la carte to prix fixe, can be enjoyed depending upon your choice, from premium to very reasonable rates.

Puttu (a kind of steam cake made of rice flour and coconut), customarily accompanied by a spicy curry made of Bengal gram and fried papadams, makes for an authentic Malayalee breakfast. Another is vellayappam (a pancake made with a batter of rice flour and yeast) which goes well with potato stew. Substitute the stew with a meat preparation and what you have is a filling lunch. Firm, fluffy idlis; crisp vadas and dosas; and uppmavu (a porridge-like dish made with semolina) can be savoured with coconut chutney and sambar with a cup of hot, sweet tea lending a perfect finish to your morning repast.

Keralites are justifiably proud of their seafood. Anyone who has experienced Kerala seafood will readily agree to its great variety and racy taste. Fish, prawns, crabs et al are always available and all eaters will find them most palatable no matter whether they are epicures or just ordinary diners. Most restaurants specialize in Kerala cuisine which may prove too spicy to a delicate palate. If required, do ask for toned down preparations to suit your tastes. Another feature is the free use of coconut and coconut oil in practically all culinary preparations.

Make sure you sample such specialities like karimeen (pearlspot, a local delicacy), either fried or curried; scampi and lobsters (excellent when grilled); Malabari fish molee (fish cooked in coconut milk and tamarind water); and hot Malayalee fried prawns (prawns sautéed in red chilli paste along with finely-chopped onions and other condiments and cooked till tender). For vegetarians the traditional oonnu (prix fixe lunch-time platter, sometimes served on plantain leaves), includes rice, an assortment of curries, vegetables, papadams, pickle, and yoghurt. Biriyani in its various forms, be it veg, chicken, beef, mutton, or egg is another popular lunch option. For gourmets, the generally heavy meals can be finished off on a sweet note by havingpayasam. However most of the eateries serve a refreshing range of fruit juices, ice creams, lassi (sweet or sour buttermilk served chilled), shakes, sundaes, and splits since payasams are customarilyreserved only for special occasions. But on a hot, sultry day, nothing really beats the heat like the fresh water of tender coconuts available from street-side vendors.

A steady influx of people from outside the state has resulted in more and more restaurants catering to a wider choice of cuisines, be it ethnic South Indian (which includes the fiery Andhra cuisine) or the North Indian spread (from rich Mughlai to sizzling tandoori to the subtle and nutritious Gujarathi thali). All the major hotels offer an incomparable choice of continental cuisines in glittering restaurants, elegant brasseries, and cosy coffee shops. There’s all the sophistication and majesty of French haute cuisine or the exotic flavours of the Mediterranean platter. For a taste of the Orient, you could either sample scrumptious Peshawari cuisine or head for the Far East to try some hot, fragrant, and spicy Thai fare or a variety of Chinese cuisines, be it the royal Peking, the pungent Szechuan, the subtle Shanghainese, or the popular Cantonese. Most big hotels also do have theme food festivals from time to time, promising to take you on a gastronomical trip, from the deserts of Mexico to our very own backwaters of Kuttanad. Payasam melas and traditional sadhyas during Onam, and food festivals during the Tourism week (Dec-Jan) are not to be missed.

Restaurants have table service with self service in fastfood outlets. The growing number of food courts, fastfood joints, pizzerias, delis, and cafés provide great eats with thattukadas, or street-side kitchens, a cheap and fast alternative to restaurants. Arabian shawarma (chicken flakes cut off the grill and wrapped in a role) makes a great snack, available at any of the growing number of shawarma outlets in the city. The city has also a growing number of chaat stalls, particularly popular amongst youngsters. Bars serve a variety of alcoholic beverages, from beer to heady schnapps and exotic cocktails. Both table and counter services are available.