Chefs at this sea-fronted property take guests on a gourmet voyage through Kerala’s multi-faceted food heritage at Café Samsara. Guests are invited to indulge in fresh seafood and organic produce. Epicurean feasts are made of regional classics such as chef’s special Travancore King Fish Curry, a recipe of which we share on this blog.
No travel experience is ever complete without indulging in local cuisine and exploring the food from the destination you are journeying to. Food, in fact, plays a vital role in transforming an interesting travel experience into an unusual one.
Recent times have seen the evolution of the culinary traveller. A study by the US-based World Food and Travel Association revealed some fascinating data about how influential they are. Considered lifeblood of the leisure travel industry, unique food experiences form the bedrock of great travel stories in their books.
In the kitchens of Niraamaya Retreats’, our chefs develop exciting menus that take guests on a gourmet journey through the destinations we are in. They combine age-old techniques of cooking with regional ingredients for recipes drawn from native food cultures.
The Kerala food experience
At Niraamaya Retreats’ Surya Samudra, a Relais &Chateaux property, a deep respect for Kerala’s food traditions and ingredients ensures that passionate chefs take utmost care to pay tribute to the coastal state’s cuisine.
Chef Prakash Nayakof Niraamaya Retreats says, “We have designed the menu to include several locally available dishes from Christian, Travancore and Malabar cuisines. The menu is dominated by vegetables available in Kerala and an abundance of seafood.”
History on a plate
Each region in Kerala has its own specialty. Tamarind and coconut, besides spices such as cardamom, cloves, mustard seeds, coriander seeds and dry red chillies are an integral part of cuisine from Alappuzha. Raw mango is one of the main ingredients in Alleppey Fish Curry, says Chef Prakash, to achieve that tangy taste.
The cuisine of Malabar coast has absorbed several influences from various cultures such as Arab, Brahmin, Zamorin and Chirakkal, making it rather flavourful. Muziris was an ancient seaport and urban centre on the Malabar Coast,dating back to the 1st century BC, and its food finds mention in several classical European historical writings. Chef Prakash says Malabar cuisine is incomplete without the use of tamarind.
In Travancore, drumsticks are added to several dishes, including Travancore King Fish Curry. “The food is a spicywith the use of a generous amount of black pepper and red chillies.”
At Niraamaya Retreats’ ocean-fronted Café Samsara, Chef Prakash and his team serve up delicious Kerala cuisine in a luxurious setting. The chefs masterfully blend spices, herbs and other ingredients to create true-to-tradition recipes.
The coastal state is skirted on one side by the sparkling Arabian Sea and the bounty from the sea forms the core of the cuisine served at Café Samsara, along with fresh vegetables. “We source our fish from a local market in Kovalam. We buy directly from the fishermen,” says Chef Prakash Nayak. Niraamaya Retreats’ Surya Samudra also has patches of kitchen garden where they grow organic vegetables and herbs that are used in the flavoursome food they serve.
Each local dish is a cultural legacy recreated on plate. Such as Chef Prakash’s favourite, Travancore King Fish Curry. This spicy fish curry is considered a culinary trademark of the Travancore region. Chef Prakash adds spices such as cardamom, red chillies and mustards seeds to the curry and cooks his signature dish in coconut oil. “We also add drumsticks as per tradition,” he says.
- King fish: 160g
- Red chillies (whole): 2
- Coconut oil: 25ml
- Curry leaves: 5 to 6
- Mustard seeds: ¼ tsp
- Ginger: 6 gm
- Drumsticks: 80gm
- Garlic: 6gm
- Tomato: 1
- Black peppercorn: 1⁄2 tbsp.
- Coconut: 1/2
- Red chilli powder: 1tbsp
- Turmeric powder 1tbsp
- Coriander powder 1⁄2 tbsp
- Green chillies: 2
- Tamarind pulp: 20gm
- Onions: 80gm
- In a thick bottomed pan, pour coconut oil. Sauté mustard seeds till they crackle.
- Then add split red chillies, curry leaves, juliennes of ginger, garlic, green chillies and sliced onions and sauté well till the onions are brown in colour.
- Slide in sliced tomatoes and drumsticksand sauté again.
- Make a coconut paste by blending turmeric powder, black pepper, chilli powder, coriander powder, green chillies and grated coconut. Add to the curry.
- Sauté well. Then add salt to taste and tamarind pulp. Boil for 5 minutes.
- Dunk in King Fish cubes and cook for a while. Check the seasoning. Serve with rice.
Savour this spicy fish curry at Café Samsara, Niraamaya Retreats Surya Samudra when you are staying at the resort. Food like this is best enjoyed to the view of well-lit boats bobbing in far distance on inky blue sea, in the nights.