India Trip 2010

I returned a week ago from a long trip to India with a break in South Korea. It was nice to visit family after a 4 year hiatus. Within India, my wife, daughter and I traveled with my family to South Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. We had a lot of fun and enjoyed seeing scenic beauty including tea estates, lakes, mountains, a spice garden, and temples. We ate at various restaurants along the way, but they were hits and misses, since some of the places were in the middle of nowhere and there was no way to get any ratings with my iPhone.

South Indian Thali
South Indian Thali

A week after arriving in Mumbai and eating my mom’s excellent cooking (she refused to let us go out to eat), we traveled to Munnar, Kerala which is an incredibly beautiful place at a much higher elevation. The temperatures were cool, surrounded by lush green mountains, mist and tea estates. We flew in from Mumbai and arrived in Kochi (or Cochin as it used to be formerly called by the British). The various state governments in India are going crazy with renaming places in India to the way they used to be before the British changed the names. So Bombay is Mumbai, Calcutta is Kolkata, Bangalore is Bengaluru etc.

Beautiful house in Kochi, Kerala along the way to Munnar, Kerala
House in Kochi

Anyway, as soon we arrived in Cochin er..Kochi, we were all hungry and wanted to eat South Indian food. We found a place called Annapurna restaurant that had South Indian thali that included various vegetables in katoris (small cups) along with rice and chappati (they look like tortilla). We were also served wtih rasam (spicy thin lentil soup)

Spicy Thin Lentil Soup (called Rasam) and Lightly Fried Buttermilk (called Chach)

Munnar has vast acres of tea estates managed by Tata company that are very well maintained. We had to drive through the tea estates to get to the various scenic spots in Munnar. If you have not been to Munnar, I would suggest going there.

Tea Estate in Munnar, Kerala, India
Tea Estate

Tea Pickers
Tea Pickers

When driving through the town, we wanted to have some South Indian filter coffee along with some idli (steamed rice dumpling along with coconut chutney and spicy lentil soup) and masala vada. We went to a small hole in the wall place suggested by our car driver since it belonged to his brother. Here we enjoyed hot filter coffee along with masala vada, idli, and spicy chutney. A masala vada is made with chana dal (chana lentils) made with various herbs, spices and deep fried. It was to die for.

Typical South Indian Coffee Shop
Tea Estate

Vegetable Market in Munnar
Vegetable Mkt In Munnar

Growing up in India, I used to be fascinated by the way the coffee and tea were made by a shop opposite my uncle’s house. It brought back memories to see that the small mom and pop coffee and tea shops in South India still make them the same way! No change whatsoever. See the video below on how they make it. He was happy that I was shooting a video of him making coffee. My dad joked with him that he will be popular in the USA as I am going to publish the video in the popular media.

Video of Making South Indian Coffee

Coffee Shop in South India from Sanjay Kawad on Vimeo.

The upcoming week, I plan to put a recipe (one of many that I learnt from my mom).

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