Priya made us a lovely Kerelan breakfast of marsala dosa, with rather spicy coconut chutney. The sambar worked very well with this.
We took today to explore Fort Kochi: it’s Portugese, Dutch and British influences since the 16th Century.
Santa Cruz Cathedral is very close to our homestay and a good example of the local colour in the religion here. We had a look during a wedding ceremony: a sung service, lot salter piece with a glowing halo and twinkling starts and lots of blue LEDs.
From there we walked to St Francis’ Church (1546) a much simpler affair with fascinating Dutch tombstones from the 16/17th C. in very good nick. Vasco da Gama died on the site in 1524, in an earlier wooden church and his tombstone is still there. The Dutch added a lovely gable end over the Portugese church. There are good punkahs for fanning the congregation.
We walked west to the sea and followed the coast path from the Dutch Graveyard almost to the Customs Jetty.
This took us through a great seaside atmosphere with stalls, a (filthy) sandy beach and the batwing Chinese fishing nets. There were impressive and looked like hard work to scoop out small quantities of fish—perhaps the haul has been better in the past? There was also lots of fish on sale in the adjacent stalls.
We had lunch at Seagull, where we sat in the shady, cool restaurant. Service was slow but that was no problem. We had a Chinese-influenced Indian lunch: influenced by the gloopy sweet and sour sauce on the bland chilli paneer. Highlight of the meal was the vegetable sizzler which were two thin cabbage-leaf bowls, presented burning on a hot place with smoke and sizzling. One was filled with steamed veg (nice cabbage) with fried potato chips on top and the other with a gloopy sauced mix of veg. The chips were good.
We walked back to Maison Casero for a shower, afternoon rest and a photo uploading session on the wifi.
At 4 we had seats to watch Kalarippayat—Kerelan martial training. It’s acrobatic, aggressive and skilled. The fighting with bamboo sticks and flexible metal strips (like a flail) were impressive. The front row had to move for the demonstration of the flexible sword, making Michael front-row centre stage. It was a bit uncomfortable as the sword whistled around at huge speed. Went back to see the Chinese fishing nets at sunset. The sunset wasn’t great but the atmosphere was and we had a chilli pakora from a stall. The pakora wasn’t quite as fiery as we were hoping for.
We ate in the evening at Oceanos, recommended by Priya. It was a marvellous meal, although it took us a whole to find the place. We started with fried shrimp in a cumin and coriander batter, which was beautiful. Followed with a light, beautifully cooked puttu which is steamed rice flour with hand ground coconut. Served as a tube. With that we had Kerelan prawn In Green mango /coconut curry which was delicious and a kingfish cooked in a Syrian catholic yellow curry sauce (with fish tamarind) which was dark red!, rich and interesting. Our best meal in India on this trip.