Sail on the spice ship

Sail on the spice ship

Sail on the spice ship

Every coast boasts of a cuisine, the appeal of which is often hard to resist. With a plethora of influences, the cuisine of the Syrian Christian community of Kerala stands tall among them. Suffice to call it a melting pot of Eastern and Western flavours.

When the Persians, Romans, Portuguese and British made their way to Kerala as traders and sea-farers, so did their food habits. This was adopted by the local people along with the cultures of different communities in the State. The broad spectrum of influences apart, the Syrian Christian cuisine has a character of its own. Which is why Dakshin at ITC Windsor is showcasing the ‘Syrian Christian Community Cuisine’, with its traditional delicacies, for lunch and dinner till May 20.  Executive chef Vijay Malhotra and chef C B Shankaran are presenting this distinctive cuisine. “The offering has the popular dishes of Syrian Christians,” explains Malhotra. “For starters, you have, among other things, the vazhapoov cutlet (banana cutlet and sweet potatoes crumbled and fried), kozhi porichathu (fried chicken) and meen cutlet (crumbled patties of fish mince seasoned and deep-fried). Sea food, undoubtedly, is an inevitable part of the cuisine.

The main course has

chemmeen ularthiyathu (prawn tossed with tomato, onion and special spices and coccum water), kari meen varuthathu (fried speciality of pearl spot fish – a freshwater fish found mainly in the backwaters of Kerala, marinated with special red chilli paste), motta porecha curry (egg poached in onion, tomato with coconut gravy) and meen mullakittathu (chilli hot fish curry with coconut oil). 

Tender fish, meat and vegetables are perfectly cooked with the right amount of spices. This along with short grained unpolished rice and different kinds of breads are sumptuous.

“When it comes to meat, among others, there is attirachy curry (mutton curry), tharavu roast (duck roast, which is a very traditional preparation) and kozhi mappas (chicken curry),” adds Malhotra.  Clearly, what’s on the platter is different from the sadya.
Vegetarians should not miss  the kapalanga molagu ittaadu (raw papaya cooked with spicy coconut gravy) and the kootu curry (black chickpeas and vegetables cooked with roasted spices and coconut).

For the breads, you have the appam (a thin pancake made from coconut milk and fermented rice flour), muttayappam and kallappam.

The desserts include

Pal ada (rice flakes in cardamom-flavoured coconut milk) and kalli (rice dumpling in sweet pudding). Various spices, methods and ingredients come together in the Syrian Christian cuisine of Kerala. Goes without saying that coconut makes its entry quite often. The flavours are refined. But the only thing missing, to tell the truth, would be the sand and the surf.