My post on Cochin is sadly underwhelming. Not in terms of quality, because I surely ate very well here. But I didn’t get to eat in quantity.

Not to dwell on it, but I want to explain the lack. I was suffering from a respiratory infection and spent a couple days in bed.

Poor me, it’s hard to eat from such a perch.

Certainly, the nicest time I had in Cochin was in the company of Babu and Joli, friends of Ammini Ramachandran. Thanks for the introduction, Ammini; I’m truly lucky to have received it.

By the way, Ammini has written a superb book on Kerala vegetarian cooking “Grains, Greens and Grated Coconuts” which comes with my *highest* recommendation. You can, and should, buy it here: . (Kate, I still have a copy for you on my kitchen table!)

Babu and Joli and I stopped at the commercial fishing docks first. Photography is prohibited for some reason, but we walked amongst crates and crates of fish–being unloaded, butchered, packed and iced. Most amazing, and I admit a bit sad, were gigantic manta rays being processed. Their ‘wingspan’ must have measured 6 feet across, and we watched as 5 men together struggled to lift one up. One lay on the ground nearby, cut in half.


We went next to the vegetable market. The sun was high overhead and cast blue light through the shady tarps. It was banana day, and zillions of bananas of all sort were arriving for sale. Babu and Joli bought me four varieties, though I think there must be dozens. Indeed, one banana was juicy and another dryer. One banana was good for frying and the best banana of all, Stefin pronounced, was the one with green skin that looked unripe and was perfectly sweet.


There were all sorts of vegetables.


On the shelf, elephant foot yams.


Here are some unripe mangoes, good for making pickles. I wonder if these might also find their way into various curries?



Babu’s holding a ladle made from a coconut shell. Behind is a big, juicy, sour pile of amla, likewise good for making pickles. These are otherwise known as gooseberries, I think, though they don’t resemble what we call gooseberries.


Dried fish of multiple varieties, you soak them for a few hours before cooking.




Joli was shopping for dried shrimp today.



These aren’t the best quality, she explained, which she found elsewhere. Better quality are meatier, and can be used in a variety of ways, including simply fried with a bit of chilli powder. Babu told me that the cheaper variety might be good for making chutney powder. I’ve made a couple dried shrimp chutney powders at home–they’re delicious.

After visiting the vegetable market, we went to enjoy lunch. You will know I wasn’t feeling well because I didn’t take any pictures and didn’t record the name! Geez. I should still describe some of the delicious food I ate with them. We ate at a buffet, and I piled my plate high with Kerala plain rice, cashew pulao, beef fry, sauteed tapioca and fiery fish curry, freshly cooked appams, onions in brown coconut curry, two more vegetable dishes, another fish curry, pickles and more that was lost to my addled memory.

Such a nice afternoon. I like this photo of Babu and Joli. Their friendliness is palpable in it, don’t you think?


Thanks, you guys.