Considered India’s gourmet guru, celebrated food writer and cook Karen Anand, wanders the world pen and plate in hand – from Italian truffles to Indian dosa, she can tell you how to prepare it, where to find it and give you the life story of the people behind it!

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10 Things you must do in Cochin

1. Ayurvedic treatments: are dodgy and massage is only a small part of them. I have in the past experienced a 2 week horror story at Ayurvedshala in Kottakal and a fantastic couple of days at Kalari Kovilakom (a CGH property) which was mind blowingly wonderful. So I was skeptical about the Ayurvedic ‘massage’ offered at Le Meridien Kochi. Don’t blink…the treatments are a dream (no hard wooden slab…they put a mattress on top and the ‘therapists’ are gentle souls not sumo wrestlers). After a green gram scrub you feel like you’ve been cleaned for a week. (lemeridien.hotelsgroup.in/le-meridien-kochi.html)

2. Bolgatty Palace: I came here almost 30 years ago and nothing much has changed. Rooms and a restaurant have been added…the original palace is old and musty but the cottages on stilts overlooking the broad waters are mesmerizing and still quite reasonable at around 3000/- a night off season. A steal. (www.bolgattypalacekochi.com)

3. Malabar House: This simple stylish hotel in  Fort Cochin is now a Relais and Chateau property with rates to match…but a glass of wine in their air conditioned bar, Divine, is really quite something. Wines are kept in chilled nitrogen flushed cabinets so they don’t oxidize. That’s pretty much a first for me in India, never mind Kerala. (www.malabarhouse.com)

4. Take a trip down the backwaters. But how? Hire a ‘ Kuttuvalem’ or houseboat for half a day from River and Country Tours. Spacious and clean you can pretty much tell him the route you want to take…ours went from Alleppy across the Vemabanad lake to a homestay for lunch. You can also have a home cooked Kerala lunch on the boat. Well worth it for a day. For longer trips, stay the night in a home stay since the boats get a bit mosquito infested. The perfect place to switch off and do nothing for a while. (www.riverandcountry.com)

5. Eighth Bastion…another addition to the CGH stable (are the Dominics slowly buying up Fort Cochin I wonder? I wouldn’t mind. They do such a great job with heritage properties). Eighth Bastion is a great little hotel come restaurant. If you’re tired of local food but still want to eat local produce in a simple, caring fashion, have a meal here (www.cghearth.com/eighth-bastion)

6. Brunton Boatyard overlooking the Arabian Sea is always mesmerizing …great service, great food, great coffee. (www.cghearth.com/brunton-boatyard)

7. Thevercad Homestay: We discovered this nugget on the backwaters where you get home cooked food by the Thomas family. Mummy Marryam and daughter in law Bindu prepare local delicacies of Karimeen, duck roast, fish curry and the freshest prawns just mixed with red chilli powder, haldi, ginger, garlic and salt, tossed in a “chetti’ (terracotta pot) with a tempering of curry leaves and coconut oil . Bliss…..On request she can also do Alleppy yellow prawn curry with raw mango. (www.thevercad.com)

8. Lulu Hypermarket…this is my dream. I wish Mr Yusuf Ali, owners of these hypermarkets across the Gulf, could open up all over India and SOON. Full of Indian produce, magnificently displayed and correctly priced. Do all your shopping here before you leave for the airport…whether its banana chips or spices (india.luluhypermarket.com)

9.Kasavukada. This has been my one stop shop for fabulous Kerala cotton for years…whether you buy lungis (called dhoti in Kerala), mundu or fabric with real zari border…it’s that inimitable off white cotton that feels like silk and lasts forever. I am making this lot into sheer drapes and tablecloths. (Tel: 09895369379 or 04842363110)

10. Kerala is the place for umbrellas…..all shapes, sizes and colours which can be used for both sun and rain. The best place to buy them is at Kochi airport, after security where there is a dedicated ‘John’s’ shop. That way you can take your gigantic yellow golf umbrella on the plane. If you buy them in town, unless they are ‘nano’ sized and fit into your luggage, you can’t carry them in hand luggage.

2 Comments

  1. Thank you for your blog on the what to do in Cochin, with beautiful pictures. Known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, Cochin was an important spice trading centre. There are various places to visit in Cochin which are remains of Portuguese, Dutch and British colonials. Kochi has been ranked the sixth best tourist destination in India .

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  2. Kochi is simply beautiful, go there in monsoon as well!

    I also wrote one Kochi travel blog post, sincerely hope it’s useful.

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