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As I write this post, I am on my train, back to Chennai. This is my third time in Kerala, and, I loved every bit of it.This time, my trip was different. I visited a few temples, walked on the muddy village roads near Allepey, spoke to the locals, traveled in state transport buses and even got a chance to be part of a Kerala Wedding. To put in a line – I explored Kerala in it’s rustic form.

Five Favorites from Kerala

1. Savored traditional vegetarian Sadya

This was planned in a jiffy – as we were about to disembark at Trivandrum Junction, I checked TripAdvisor for some good restaurants around. That is when I read about Mothers Veg Plaza at Bakery Junction which had amazing reviews for the traditional vegetarian Sadya. Sadya is a traditional vegetarian Kerala Meal [Lunch] served on a  banana leaf. These are the delicacies we were served:

  • Tangy Inji Curry (curry made with ginger, tamarind and jaggery; tempered with mustard seeds, curry leaves and coconut oil)
  • Spicy Kadu Manga (pickle made with diced unripe mangoes; tempered with gingelly oil, mustard seeds and garlic)
  • Naranga Pickle (pickle made with lemon; tempered with oil, fenugreek seeds, ginger and garlic)
  • Thoran (made with vegetables such as cabbage or green beans; cooked with mustard seeds, curry leaves, grated coconut and turmeric)
  • Avial (made with seasonal vegetables cooked in coconut oil)
  • Pavakka Pachadi (bitter gourd cooked with mustard seeds, curry leaves, grated cocunut and mixed with fresh yogurt)
  • Pineapple Pachadi (made with cooked, mashed pineapples, yogurt, coconut; tempered with coconut oil, mustard seeds and curry leaves)
  • Parippu Curry (made with roasted moong dal; tempered with mustard seeds, dry red chilli and small onions)
  • Pappadam (thin, round and crispy wafer made with rice flour)
  • Pulisseri (buttermilk cooked with grated coconut, green chillies, turmeric powder; tempered with cocounut oil, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and dry red chillies)
  • Sambar (curry made with lentils and vegetables, this is different from what you get in Tamil Nadu)
  • Koottu Curry (Elephant yam, plantain and other vegetabeles cooked with grated coconut, tempered with coconut oil, mustard seeds and dry red chillies)
  • Moru (fresh butter milk)
  • Banana
  • Upperi (chips made out of raw banana or jackfruit)
  • Ada Pradhaman (dessert made with coconut milk, jaggery and rice flakes; topped with raisins and cashew nuts)
  • Boli along with Semiya Payasam (sweet flat bread served along with cooked sweet milk)
  • Authentic Kerala Red Rice (also known as Matta Rice)

Vegetarian Dishes could not have tasted better. Every item on the menu, though prepared with simple ingredients was a burst of unique flavors. The simplicity and amazing flavors will certainly make you fall in love with it.  Our taste buds wanted this food so much that we went to the same place the next day for lunch.

2. Enjoyed the rustic beauty of Kerala

They say villages are the soul of India. And, I completely agree with that. This time, I got a chance to visit a few villages and small towns along the coastline in Allepey District. We strolled in the dusty village roads, smiled at unknown people, hopped between towns in state transport buses, grabbed Idiappam and Kadala Curry for breakfast in Malabar Hotels, tried to understand the local culture and just explored Kerala in a not-so-touristy way. Like my husband says, traveling is about knowing and understanding the local culture rather than being just a tourist. And, I agree.

3. The scenery by the train

Our train moved past the small towns and villages alongside the Arabian Sea coastline. The Trivandrum – Kollam – Ernakulam stretch offers exotic view of the surrounding area lined with coconut trees, lush vegetation and the enchanting backwaters which unfolds a new, beautiful scenery each time. Sipping Chai and gossiping with Shyam, I enjoyed my journey past the beautiful backwaters of Kerala. The pictures I have shared below were clicked on a moving train. One of the advantages of traveling in Sleeper Class is that you begin to get the essence of a place even before you reach your destination. What do you think?

4. My stay at Mitra Hermitage Ayurveda Residency

For the first two days we stayed at Mitra Hermitage Ayurveda Residency in Thiruvallam, Trivandrum. They also call it a hospital because it is an Ayurvedic Treatment Center. I did not go for any treatments but just stayed there. It is a small property behind a river lined with coconut trees and is beautifully designed. Absolutely clean and green, the cottages also have a hammock tied between the tall jack fruit and coconut trees to unwind and relax with the river flowing just behind.

5. The culturally rich temples of Kerala

I visited the very famous Padmanabhaswamy Temple and I was amazed by the discipline the folks have. The rules are followed very strictly and the rules remain the same for everyone. Be it a normal visitor, a devotee, or a police man guarding the premises – rules are rules for everyone. Wearing a veshti / mundu for a man and saree for a woman is compulsory while visiting Padmanabhaswamy Temple 🙂 I also had a chance to visit Mannarsala and our old family temple in Haripad. Compared to temples in Tamil Nadu, it is different in Kerala. I loved the spirituality, discipline, and devotion towards the divine powers.

That is all for now. Tell me, have you been to Kerala? I’d love to read your memories of this beautiful state. Also, read about my short drive to Kovalam here.

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