Retreat in Southern India

Posted on Friday, July 22nd, 2011


After a break neck 14-day tour  around the Rajastan state of  India, we headed south to   Philipkutty’s Farm on a small tranquil island on the southwestern coast .

The island is surrounded by the  Vembanad Lake  in the state of Kerala.   Canals, streams, marshes and flooded rice patties are  intricately tied into the 80-square-acre  lake and make up what Keralites call the Backwaters.

Philipkutty’s Farm is a small family- run inn called a home stay. Guests  live with the hosts and are housed in one of five lakefront villas which were built in traditional Keralan bungalo style. White stucco walls and verandas overhung with dark red tile roofs make up the Keralan look, complete with swings large enough for two.

We could lie back and listen to the birds singing or women chatting while doing laundry along the  shores.  The family and guests dine together three times a day around a large round table in the outdoor pavilion. It appeared we had arrived at a perfect rest stop before continuing on our tour.

We were greeted by Anu, our hostess and quickly  introduced to Aniamma, known to all as “Mummy” .  They were daughter and mother-in-law, the  owners and operators of this retreat.

Philipkutty’s was originally established over a half century before by Mummy’s father-in-law.  After his unexpected death, his wife, Anu and Mummy took over. In 1999 Mummy’s son added the bungalows and created the homestay experience, giving travelers a taste of Keralan hospitality. This mostly organic farm produces commercial crops in addition to the ingredients used for home stay’s meals including the spices .

We were offered the opportunity to take a cooking class with Mummy and Anu. We were  immediately at home in the demo kitchen. We started off with Pineapple Pachadi, a basic dish and  a staple on our dining table while a Phillipkutty’s. Here is the recipe for all of you to enjoy. Most ingredients available at Healthy Hut, except the fresh curry leaves, which may be found at your local farmers market.

Pineapple Pachadi  (serves 6-8)

This dish is  similar to a raita.  It is a cross between a sauce and relish.  Its savory, sweet and tart flavors made it a delicious accompaniment to  the spicy dishes we ate, like  the Shrimp Masala.

2 tablespoons coconut oil
12 fresh curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
6 medium shallots, minced
2 long hot green chiles, seeded and minced
1 cup finely chopped pineapple
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut
1 1/2 cup plain whole milk yogurt

Heat the oil in a small sauce pan. Add six of the curry leaves, the mustard seeds and crushed red pepper and cook over high heat until the curry leaves sizzle and the mustard seeds pop ( 30 seconds or so) remove from heat.

In a medium skillet combine shallots, green chiles, pineapple, water and the remaining curry leaves and simmer over moderate to low heat until most of the water has evaporated ( 10 minutes )  Add the coconut and yogurt and cook. Continue stirring until heated through ( do not bring to boil,  three minutes ). Remove from the heat , stir in the fried curry leave mixture  and season with salt. Let cool to room temperature and serve.

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Author | Joseph Fiorilli

Joseph Fiorilli is a food enthusiast and one of the owners of Healthy Hut, a Natural Food & Products Store in Kilauea on the North Shore of Kauai. Formerly an Event Planner in New York City and Washington DC, Joseph relocated to Kauai in 2003 with his partner Scott and their son Noah.

3 Responses to “Retreat in Southern India”

  1. Just for the record Shastin didn’t go to India… Having some technical difficulties with FB…..

  2. Joseph posted this with a great recipe so check it out on our blog by clicking the title link!

  3. Sunny Crowley says:

    Lovely! This sounds….like you had a nice trip Joseph. Thanks for sharing. I would one day like to go to Rajastan.

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