MILK LOAF & A LOOK AT “GOD’S OWN COUNTRY” KERALA
I have been MIA yet again, missed Easter celebrations too (hope y’all had a great Easter day). These disappearing acts are all thanks to traveling but now my close-to-three-months long India vacation is over and hopefully, jet lag permitting I should be more regular with my posts!
After a very, very long plane journey from Kerala to Phoenix, and then a four hour drive to our town, I am finally at home, back to V- back to married life, back to keeping the home clean, doing the dishes, washing clothes (though the excuse of jetlag is keeping me from doing any of that)!
I must say, that V has kept the house pretty pretty clean. Much cleaner than what I would expect from a guy. Barring the kitchen, I think everything has been pretty much under control. I also got home to flowers (I know- awwww…) and wait for it…..a Macbook! V surprised me with a new laptop for me- an anniversary cum valentine cum his bonus gift :)! (Hmmm….I hope this was not his way of showing how happy he was to have me away for such a long time and the gift was a way to thank me for the peace he had while I was away =/)
Either ways I am a happy girl! And this post comes to you from my new Mac! It is so white that I actually washed my hands before using it. I am still getting used to the changes. A lot of the Windows OS functions do not work on Mac and I need to figure that out. But its a good thing – that would keep me busy for a while. I need something to keep me occupied. Even though it feels great to be back, I miss home. I miss the hustle bustle in India- the oh so many people- crowded streets, markets- it is just so empty in the US! I am eagerly waiting for my Friday coffee morning now- and catching up with my gang of girls after what seems likes ages.
I am still reeling under my India trip hangover. The last few days in Kerala with my parents were great. I have fallen in love with Kerala food. We had the most amazing prawn curry and king prawns at this resort in Kovalam called Uday Samudara. We had our table right at the beach, which was perfect. The beautiful sea breeze and the noise of the waves splashing made a delicious meal even more special.
I also got a chance to go on a Lion Safari. There is a small national park near Neyyar dam in Kerala where the lions are kept in their natural habitat. We saw two lioness’ and one lion up close from our bus. It was pretty exciting! After that we went to a crocodile farm, but it was sad to see the way the crocodiles were kept in cages. I did notice that crocodiles are pretty lazy reptiles. They just lie around half immersed in water and stay still the whole day. What a life!
But the best part of my Kerala trip, besides the ayurvedic massages, was the trip to the Duke Forest Lodge. Its a 130-acre Rubber plantation and is home to various spice trees and plants including cocoa, vanilla, coffee, cardamom, cloves, pepper, nutmeg. Unfortunately, the vanilla blooming season starts in June so I could not get my hand on any vanilla pods, but the manager told us that in June-July the whole estate smells of Vanilla when the green Vanilla flowers turn black. Its a lovely time to visit the estate.
At the lodge they also grow cacao trees- yes, the trees that give us cocoa, the key ingredient for chocolate, chocolate which is something that most of us can not do without. The Cacao fruit pulp is white and if you suck on them they taste like custard apple. The beans along with the pulp are fermented and then dried, where the pulp trickles off, leaving behind the cocoa beans. The cocoa beans are then shipped off where they are processed to make cocoa powder, cocoa butter, nibs and the likes.
The Lodge is perched in a Rubber plantation. They have about 3000 rubber trees and a good rubber tree gives about 2 bowls of latex sap daily. Each bowl sells for about Rs 80 (roughly $1.50), so it is quite a profitable business for the lodge. The Duke Forest Lodge also is a beautiful place to stay if you plan a trip to Kerala. They have 14-day packages where the stay includes yoga, ayurvedic massages and detoxification meals. They have villas with Jacuzzis and of course, you have the added benefit of being surrounded by spices of all kinds.
And if you are in Kerala, you have to visit the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple, which is an architectural wonder. There is a dress code there though- the men have to the Kerala Mundu (white Dhoti- piece of white cloth wrapped around the legs), and keep their chest bare. The women need to be dressed in a sari. Both the dresses are available for hire or to buy near the temple.
Also one should not miss a ride in the backwaters of Allepey-Kovalam, a trip to the tea plantations in Munnar (unfortunately, my Munnar trip did not happen this time) and the Jewish synagogue, the Kathakali performances, the Chinese net in Cochin. And while you are doing all this, do not forget to feast on the local Kerala cuisine- appam and stew, Kerala parantha, prawn curry, fish curry, coconut water– just thinking about it makes my mouth water. As souvenirs pick up spices from the local markets. In Thiruvananthapuram, you could also go to Sarwaa, in Sasthamangalam where handmade products, organic and ayurvedic ware cover a good part of the shop.
There are a lot of other places to cover in Kerala but these are the ones that I have visited and would recommend.
And since you all have been so patient reading while I have been blabbering non stop, I am posting a recipe too. Its been long since I made a 100% flour recipe and god I miss such breads. Of course whole wheat is healthy and it is tasty, no denying that but its nice to have a no wheat just plain ‘ol flour bread. And this one here hits all the right spots!
This is a bread machine recipe but of course it can be made without one. For making a bread without a machine check this post out.
makes 750 gms
- 50 gm butter, softened, diced
- 1.5 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 260 ml liquid milk
- 400 gms white bread flour
- 1 tsp yeast
Put ingredients according to your bread maker’s instructions. Set loaf size to 750 gms and use appropriate cycle.
If you do not have a bread maker, you can see this post.