Raviz Ashtamudi – Part 3-Cuisine

My stay at The Raviz’shing Raviz Spa and Resort, Ashtamudi, Kollam, Kerala, India in collaboration with *Panache
After having spoken about the facilities and activities related to The Raviz
Spa and Resort, it is finally time to get to the most important part, the food. And why did I
wait till the end you ask ? Well have you not heard of saving the best for last ?
Now food, the highly significant aspect of my life, is one very good reason that I travel.
Savoring cuisines that are local to the point of being rustic, is my way of understanding and appreciating the places I visit.
Not for me the usual done to death ‘multi cuisine’ staples and neither do I opt for the familiar if I have a choice of sampling the unusual.
Fortunately for me, my palate puts forth no conditions and there are no taboos or constraints.


Of course the cuisine of Kerala is not new to me and I am lucky that many of my well loved dishes are a part of it.
I had my favorites ear marked as I put forth my list of demands which were happily met by the chefs who were as excited about feeding me as I was about being fed. A few of the dishes were served on special request and the rest were a part of the menu and in total
they took care of all my heart’s (or stomach’s) desires.
For a hotel of its stature, the dining options at the Raviz are however, limited to a single restaurant, the Keraleeyam. The docked houseboat Ranthaal also serves as a venue for private parties and has to be prebooked.
Despite having only one functional kitchen, an effort has been made to cater to all types of palates and the current menu though relatively compact, does offer dishes from standard cuisines both Indian and global, while parallelly paying due attention to the traditional and local, for those who prefer to savor the flavor of the land.
Of course, they do tune/tone the spice levels to suit individual preferences.
The chef here believes in responsible cuisine where sincere efforts are made to source ingredients locally in order to leave behind a smaller carbon footprint. Of course where seafood is concerned, this is easily achieved, since the freshest of catch is available on a daily basis.
Kerala cuisine is broadly divided into the Malabari with an arab influence, the Syrian christian and the Royal Travancore and at the Raviz, they endeavor to incorporate dishes from all these styles.
In fact they are so aware of the importance of holding on to traditional foods that they recently held a Chef’s conclave here to celebrate and document ethnic Kerala cuisine and I was told that an impressive 60 recipes were showcased, some of which were even sourced from thattukadas which are the local carts and food stalls and some even from ancient recipes from the homes of the employees.
My first meal here was a Kerala sadya, a typical festive vegetarian meal served on a banana leaf with several vegetarian preparations mainly coconut based, both in dry and curry form. The serving is done in a specific order and the items have prefixed locations on the leaf.
Mine was quite the full fledged banquet, consisting of various customary components that ranged from red rice to all its accompaniments like the parippu, sambar, rasam, kaalan, avial, thoran, olan, kootu, pachadi, kichadi, mango pickle, inji puli, curd and buttermilk and the crisps like papadam, banana chips and jaggery coated banana chips. The sweet which is a milk or coconut milk based payasam is served at the end and we had the palm
sugar sweetened Palada prathaman made from rice flakes and which luckily was my favorite kind of payasam.
Warm Karingali water, with its reddish hue that is imparted by the karingali herb, is considered the proper accompaniment to the food due to its digestive and medicinal properties and after that spread, I was ready to cry Gimme Red !!! 😀
The Sadya is available to guests on pre order.
I was also very eager to try the famous coconut toddy since I had grown up drinking the sweet sap of the palm on my grandfather’s estate in Chikmagalur years ago and had not tasted it ever since. Unfortunately I learnt that is not as freely available in that location, as it is in Alleppy and certain other parts of Kerala and though I really wished to visit a toddy tapping site I was unable to locate any. However the helpful staff did manage to find a location some distance from the premises and my cravings were satiated with an accompanying bonus of spicy fried meat.
Throughout my stay, I was extremely particular that I wanted only traditional food and at my first dinner I gave the chef a free hand to choose whatever local fare he wanted me to try. Of course I did hint to him to stay within the confines of seafood and being quite an appam fanatic, I also put in a request for those … not much of a free hand there right ?
But it was as if the chef had read my mind, for the delightful repast that he put forth, had all that I loved, right from the perfectly created appams to the accompanying Kari meen pollichathu – the whole Pearl spot fish coated with spices and steamed in a banana leaf, the huge spicy Tiger prawn fry, Fish molee – chunks of seer fish stewed in coconut milk and the masterpiece, spicy fried oysters that were crisp on the outside while the insides just
melted away on the tongue … and also melted my heart !!!
The oysters as I mentioned in the previous post, come straight out of the water and after being shucked, barely take a few hours to traverse to pan to plate to palate !!!
This is not a dish to miss and I would return here just for this … poetry stems from sheer bliss 😀
Well there was more love on the way, in the form of dessert, with coconut custard and broken wheat payasam both sweetened with palm sugar and delightful to taste, though I was out of free space and could barely manage a tiny bit.
Well after a meal like this one can only sleep and that is exactly what I did.
Kerala cuisine has a few typical breakfast items and apart from the usual North and South Indian and the Western, the daily morning buffet includes a couple of these local items in rotation. I certainly made sure to completely ignore everything else and fixate only on the Puttu-kadala – the steamed rice cylinders with chickpea curry, Idiappam – the string hoppers and stew, the Kall dosa – a pancake made from appam batter and Thattu dosa which is a thicker variety of dosa that went well with the Naadan chicken curry.
The local tea is also well appreciated but since I do not drink tea or coffee I managed to bully another random hotel guest to pose for me with his glass 😀
Speaking of tea, there are also tea time treats in the evening (in case you have miraculously digested the lunch spread in that short duration) and the Vattayappam – a sweet steamed rice cake embedded with raisins and the Sugiyan – a fritter made by deep frying a mix of jaggery and cooked mung dipped in batter, were served on my two evenings there.
On my second lunch here I was served Kerala’s quintessential staple, the Kappa Meen where boiled tapioca provides the starch that is eaten doused in a fiery red fish curry … truly a dish to savor. There was also a large slice of absolutely fresh Seer fish fry and a Kerala parotta thrown in for good measure.
Dinner on the second night was an affair to remember, where the chef had planned out a candle light dinner for one, which is way better than for two because here you can get to be all alone with your true love, which is the food of course.
The beautiful houseboat Ranthaal was the venue and she was all decked up to offer me a setting so gorgeous that it was hard not to fall in love with her.
Chef Ajeeth had put in a lot of thought to make my time memorable. As the lapping waters provided the gentle background music, he dipped into history to narrate the story of each dish, as the four course meal wove a tale between the traditional and the rustic while staying connected to the modern, by way of presentation.
To start with, he Konju’red up the Konju kizhi, which was my oil free appetizer (konju is prawn and kizhi is the banana leaf pouch), with the tiger prawn smothered in an intense paste of raw mango, coconut and curry leaves and then steamed in a banana leaf packet. The contemporary plating included a stylish flourish of Inji puli, the tantalizingly sharp ginger tamarind chutney. An explosion of  flavors that cleared the path for the rest of the meal.
The soup that was tame in contrast, was an endearingly unsophisticated gruel called the Njavara paal kanji that is eaten in the Karkidakam maasam, a period during the monsoons. This is obtained by boiling the endemic Kerala Njavara brown rice with fenugreek seeds, chillies and coconut milk. It was served in its typical pala (areca palm) leaf plate and I was to eat it with a jackfruit leaf cone that served as a spoon which would warrant taking
smaller sips in order to assimilate it better.
The main course hailed from the Portugese era and this recipe for pork roast served with pav bread and brown gravy, was picked from the cuisine of the Fort Cochin area. This was served with its customary accompaniment of vinegared beet and onion salad which is said to perform the task of countering the richness of the meat and aiding in digestion.
The dessert offering was literally an offering … a temple prasadam of beaten rice soaked in tender coconut water and mixed with coconut gratings and bits of banana and was served in the same coconut shell and garnished with red Chethi flowers (ixora coccinea) that are used for worship in temples.
The food and ambience lulled me into a magical state and I returned to my room knowing that food filled dreams would weave their tales through my slumber.
My last lunch here was the Spicy crab curry with Nei chor (ghee rice) and I used both my hands and a claw shaped crab cutter, to extricate the fresh succulent meat. Battling with the crabs when I had a flight to catch was a bad idea because I really could not do as much justice as I would have liked to and it was hard to tell whether the tears were due to the spice or the imminent parting, as on this gastronomically emotional note I completed my
last meal at The Raviz !!!
Apart from what the resort offers, for those who want to get away for some local food outside, there is not much by way of gastronomy in the nearby surroundings. There are a couple of tiny but interesting looking shacks that open for business just outside the lane
that leads from the Raviz to the highway. One of them sells ‘bajjis’ (vegetable fritters) and at the other, one can have a plate of four thattey dosas that are accompanied by chutney, sambhar and an omelette too, all for a ridiculous Rs 35/- I would have been game to try this had I had the time and ‘space’.
Other than this roadside stall, one would have to find one’s way to the town to get to local restaurants that serve traditional food. One such well known place is Chandran Pillai Hotel and though the ambience is supposed to be just that of a glorified shack, the food is known to be cheap and authentic and they serve all the local favorites, spice and all !!!
I had especially heard of their seafood and I was very keen on visiting the place but was disappointed to be told that it was unfortunately closed temporarily.
Well to look on the brighter side, having a desire unfulfilled is a good excuse to return, for The Raviz is certainly a destination that I would be delighted to go back to.
They are also in the process of revamping their menu and from what I was given to understand, they have some very exciting ideas to promote Kerala cuisine, that include skillfully curated set menus that one can choose from which would be great bait to lure me back there 😀

Pl note – This trip was made in collaboration with Panache and The Raviz, Ashtamudi. The narration is based on my own personal experiences.

If you want to weave in the Raviz in between your Kerala experience or design your own dream trip, Panache can be contacted at info@panacheworld.com

*Calling Panache a travel agency or even a travel consultancy, will not do it justice. The experiences that they passionately curate to lands less explored, would urge me to label them a Travel Styling or Travel Design company.

I was privileged to debut my travel blogging adventures under their wing and I hope to continue forth with them as they discover newer trails to be traversed and more secret destinations to unearth … with a Dash of Panache and style !!!

Jul 24th-26th, 2017

About Currylines

A food and travel enthusiast who plays with words
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8 Responses to Raviz Ashtamudi – Part 3-Cuisine

  1. Shiva says:

    Superb!!! You are really very good describing the food. Lovely pictures.

  2. Ajit Krishnan Nair says:

    Superbly done Ma’am !

  3. Nirmala Jayachander says:

    Very interesting write up….would love to plan a holiday soon….

  4. Sangeetha says:

    You truly saved the best for last. Loved going on this gastronomic journey with you. Love your humor and your style of the written word.

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