Kochi, the port town in the southern coast of India, is a gourmand’s paradise. And, why not? With access to some great seafood and having passed through the Dutch, French and Portuguese hands, the town has created its own unique cuisine.
What’s interesting is that despite all these influences and contributions from Christian and Islamic groups, the local cuisine has managed to maintain its original flavour.
Here’s where you can head to if you are looking for interesting food in Kochi.
Kayees biryani: For the original taste of Malabari biryani, head straight to Kayees. You can either visit the one at Mattanchery or the one opposite Durbar Hall in Kochi.
Rich in taste, the biryani here is cooked alongwith the meat and rice, and fragranced with whole garam masalas, raisins, cashews and fried onions; there’s quite nothing else to satisfy your biryani craving while in town.
The must-try dishes are mutton biryani, which is served with papad, onions, dates chutney and chicken fry.
Pai Brother’s Fast Food: If, like most Indians, you too are a fan of this humble rice and lentil crepe, head to Pai Brother’s Fast Food for its range of dosas. What's more, the prices are pocket-friendly too.
This small, yet famous eatery stays open past midnight making it one of the late-night eateries in town. Try the quail egg dosa and thattil kutty dosa with garlic chutney or the simple masala dosa.
Chocolate cake at Kashi Art Cafe. Photo: Facebook
Iftar: Want a taste of some delicious Malabari (of North Kerala) cuisine? Head to Iftar.
Usually packed most of the times, Iftar serves a mix of sweet and savoury snacks like Unnakaya (banana fried in batter) Muttamala (custard made from egg whites), Kilikoodu (stuffed chicken egg deep fried) or any of the stuffed Pathiris. You can choose from chicken, mutton or beef too.
Malabar Junction: The prices maybe slightly steep, but the food is totally worth a try. Offering the best of Mediterranean and Kerala food, Malabar Junction has a beautiful al fresco section by the pool.
Eat the Mahi Mahi Filet flavoured with local spices, cheese ravioli or the drool-worthy tiramisu. It’s a great place for a sunny day breakfast too!
Rappai’s Thattinpuram: The name literally translates to Rappai’s attic. It is vouched as one of the best places for street food over generations. Every Malayali worth his salt swears by it.
Open till midnight, you must try the chicken roast and Malabari porotta here. Other must-try dishes include beef dry fry, thattu dosa and egg dosa.
Chicken roast at Rappais. Photo: Facebook
Gokul Oottupura: If you are looking for yummy vegetarian food, this is the place to be.
It has an ambience similar to that of a Kerala tea shop, and serves a variety of snacks and breakfast items mostly South Indian like idlis, dosas, vadas, chaats, and thalis during lunch. The ghee roast is to die for!
Majlis: Keralites dig Arabian or Middle Eastern food. Not a surprise considering every Malayali has at least one relative in the Middle East.
Naturally dishes such as Al Fahm, shawarmas and kabsas (Arabian biryani) sell like hot cakes here. Visit Majlis in Vytilla for Arabian-inspired cuisine. It will transport you right to the land of Sheikhs.
Don’t miss the Mutton Mandi (Pakistani biryani made with goat leg), a range of kebabs, and of course Al Fahm with hummus and pita bread. The portions will leave you wishing you had starved all day!
Malabar Junction has a mix of Mediterranean and Kerala cuisine. Photo: Facebook
Kashi Art Café: While in Fort Kochi, do drop by at this artsy café even if it is just for a cup of coffee. The ambience is wonderful with what seems like a colonial house converted into an art gallery and café.
You can try their all-day breakfast, or one of their delicious sandwiches. My personal pick is the tuna salad sandwich and chocolate cake.
Mullapanthal: If a taste of local seafood is what you are looking for in Kochi, then Mullapanthal is where you should be eating. It is a well-known toddy shop in Tripunithura.
That said, do try the alcohol made from fermented coconut water.
As for the teetotallers, there’s neera or palm nectar. The beef fry, kappa (tapioca), fish head curry and podimeen (fish cut into small pieces and fried) are highly recommended.
Kettuvallam: Kettuvallam is a multi-cuisine restaurant known for its delicious seafood. The ambience is great too.
Head here if you like to try some South Asian delicacies. Don’t forget the sadhya meals with chicken or fish curries.
Enjoy some toddy alongwith your dish at Mullapanthal. Photo: Facebook
Diwan’s Durbar: After your fill of South Indian dishes, if you want a touch of North Indian food, head to Diwan’s Durbar at Edapally. The sumptuous Mughlai food makes up for the very simple ambience.
It is a great place to go for a nice, quiet dinner. Must-try dishes are the Bhuna Chicken and Mutton Rogan Josh.
Chai Nation: This is a fusion café and sees regulars from those working at Info Park closeby. Tea lovers should definitely head here for a cuppa.
You can try the Parippuvada (dal fritters), carrot cake, lime tea and lime drizzle cake. The quaint little café is always packed, thanks to their friendly staff and affordable prices.
Sumitra Nair is a former journalist on a sabbatical, who is trying to find her writing voice. Her fetishes include football and desserts. Her blog Bombay, Beatles, Bharatanatyam is inspired from the fact that all three have had a role in shaping the person she is. She mainly chronicles recipes influenced by nostalgia.