Kerala's "karimeen", "appam"and "puttu" on Discovery channel soon

Bourdain with Mammooty at the film set
Bourdain with Mammooty at the film set

Come July, international television audiences will have close encounters with Kerala's culinary attractions such as "karimeen", "appam" and "puttu" when the popular show "No Reservations" devotes an entire episode to the cuisine of the state.

Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, the host of the programme on Discovery Travel channel, has already shot the episode in "God's Own Country", a press release from Kerala Tourism said here today. The show is now in its sixth season.

Kerala is making an effort to cash in on culinary tourism, which is becoming increasingly popular with holidaymakers, especially the British, French and Americans, with more and more tourists indulging their taste buds with local food when travelling abroad.

Spain, Italy and France are the well-kown destinations for prospective gourmets, while long haul destinations, including China, Thailand and India, are becoming increasingly popular.

"When it comes to spices and variety, Kerala is right up there in my alley," says Bourdain, 53, the author of "A Cook’s Tour—In Search of the Perfect Meal".

Bourdain enjoys a meal with a local boatman
Bourdain enjoys a meal with a local boatman

For the Kerala episode, the master chef landed in Kochi at the fag end of March and travelled to Alappuzha to savour the backwaters cuisine. He stayed in a houseboat where he tried mussels and "kappa" (tapioca), a Kerala "sadya" (feast) and the spicy "karimeen" or pearl spot fish.

"I am also very impressed with the high standard of food in Kerala, especially the street food," says Bourdain, who earlier hit the streets in Kochi to taste the varieties offered by "Adipoli Thattukada" near the Medical Trust Hospital on the busy Mahatma Gandhi Road and "NM Fastfood" on Broadway.

Bourdain also enjoyed home cooked "puttu" (made of steamed rice powder), "meen" curry (fish cooked in coconut milk) and some vegetarian dishes (made with coconut) with well-known Malayalam actor Mammootty. He had visited the superstar during the shooting of his coming film "Pokkiri Raja". The food was brought from Mammootty’s home.

The "No Reservations" episode will also feature a discussion between Bourdain and Mammootty, the release said.

"By showcasing authentic Kerala food in the homes of ordinary people, Anthony Bourdain is also reaffirming that delicious food and hospitality is not just special to upscale restaurants and hotels, but is something that is customary throughout the state," Kerala Tourism Secretary V Venu said.

"It was wonderful to have such a high profile television host championing street and home cooked food," he said.

"Indian food has been under-appreciated in certain parts of the world. I would love to come back again to explore other towns and cities," Bourdain said.

Bourdain enjoys a houseboat ride.
Bourdain enjoys a houseboat ride.

Before shooting the sequence, Mammootty reportedly discussed various cuisines like the Mediterranean, Continental and Portuguese and the Western influences in Indian cuisine. He also told him about how Kerala delicacies like "idiyappam", "puttu" and stew were influenced by the Portuguese cuisine.

Besides Mammootty, the chef shot with restaurateur and Kerala’s culinary ambassador Das Sreedharan in Thrikkariyoor, a tiny village in Kothamangalam near Kochi. Sreedharan, who is originally from Thrikkariyoor, owns 11 restaurants in London. "We shot a major chunk of the episode with him in his village," said Bourdain.

In Alleppey, he stayed in a houseboat, where he was served some homemade delicacies. He also found time to visit a toddy shop where he ate spicy "karimeen" and prawns.

"I am not too crazy about toddy but the food at the toddy shop was very flavoursome," he said.


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