It is not easy for lovers of spices and seafood to find the right blend all the time. And when you are in the land where they coexist deliciously, it would be a shame to miss out on their romance. Both the flavours being overwhelming by themselves, it takes a practised hand to get them right.
Thankfully, if you are in the colourful city of Fort Kochi, one thing you can be assured of is – variety of seafood preparations. Whether you like your fish curried and red hot or grilled to perfection, you can get your hands on everything in the streets here.
However, if your palate wants to go for a ride with subtle hints of Kerala's spices, you need not look further than the Fort Kochi beach. With lawns on one side and the sea on the other, The Drawing Room restaurant will invite you in like a cool breeze. You can settle in at the garden sitting area with its pretty, white furniture nestled in green creepers or you can sit indoors at the windows looking at ships sailing in the sea.
The place is usually calm in the afternoons but lights up in the evenings with lamps and music. But whatever the time of the day, they will have you gorge on fresh seafood – and we mean really fresh. They literally go and buy the fish when you order one!
The menu itself is a list of sundry preparations which will suit all kinds of palates without leaving Kerala's authentic flavours out. Case in point being their grilled red snapper which is marinated with Indian spices and then grilled on a bed of fresh curry leaves. It cannot get more original than that! The final dish has a charred crust with its intense flavour seeped into the juicy interior. The marinade is just enough to add that desi flavour that lets you enjoy this dish with plain rice.
Next item will trigger your scepticism but only till you try it. Bacon-wrapped prawns! Might sound a bit crazy but 'Angels on horseback' are a French delicacy that essentially use oysters instead of prawns. This derivation is no less delicious, and as the owner of the hotel himself puts it: "You can't go wrong with bacon." These starters are to be had hot lest the bacon should go rubbery. Just hold it by the tail and take one large bite and let the flavours explode in your mouth.
Come back to Kerala cuisine for the main course with a coconut prawns curry which is typical to the region. Though nothing goes better with a spicy Kerala curry than steamed, tempered kappa, you might want to try their paalkappa or kappa cooked in coconut milk! This method tenderises the tapioca and gives it a softer texture. The creaminess of coconut makes these preparations rather heavy but totally worth the laze that follows.
To wash down this heavy meal you have a lot of interesting drinks to choose from. 'Interesting, how?' you may ask. Well, have you ever had your pineapple juice with curry leaves in it? Trust us, nothing goes better with the flavoursome food you will have here. The freshness of curry leaves brings out the tanginess of the pineapple juice just right.
Finally, for dessert, the restaurant recommends their chocolate mousse which is a dense, almost cheesecake-like preparation and will take two to finish. Topped with mint leaves, the mousse will leave you want more but unfortunately with no stomach.
Relax as you watch the calm sea from these windows of an ancient port house which was renovated to erect The Drawing Room. The walls and window panes still reek of the rich history of this port city.