Kerala Tourisms local treat for international chefs

Participants of Spice Route Culinary Festival visit home of popular cookery instructor Nimmy Paul


Kochi, September 23: The international chefs who have arrived here for Kerala Tourism’s four-day Spice Route Culinary Festival were treated to a meal at a traditional Kerala kitchen todays.

Native ingredients such as kokum, bilimbi and coconut milk that flavoured the authentic local cuisine were an eye-opener to the chefs who are gearing up to take part in a cooking competition on Sunday.

Kerala Tourism, which is hosting the culinary festival in association with UNESCO and the Union Tourism Ministry, organised a tour of the home of renowned cooking instructor Nimmy Paul, for the visitors to enjoy local fish, prawn and beef delicacies. Nimmy took the international competing chefs, from across Europe and the Middle East, through a culinary journey of masalas in Kerala cuisine.

“What a wonderful, unique experience,” said famed Lebanese chef Jehad Al-Shami, who heads the kitchen at a five-star hotel in Mumbai. “Being able to experience a local kitchen and cooking first hand gives a much better sense of Kerala cuisine than you can get from any book.”

His counterpart Bernard Aguilera agreed. For the Portuguese chef, it provided a good opportunity to explore the historic influences of both cultures on cuisine. “The use of masalas distinguishes Kerala cuisine,” he said. “Also, it is interesting to see how the food has been developed in a way to suit the unique climate here.”

While the coconut curry, the fish wrapped in banana leaves and the prawn curry reminded Malaysian chef Rowsley of the food back home, he was blown away by the beef fry. “Usually, meat is cooked in a stew in Malaysia; the beef fried with coconut slivers was spectacular,” he said.

Nimmy also shared local herbal practices, such as the use of jeera water and ginger water. “This sort of information would prove very useful to professional chefs,” she said.

The information will be particularly useful as the chefs visit and procure local ingredients from markets on Saturday before tabling the choicest cuisines from their homelands for the festival’s open-to-public international cooking competition on Sunday.


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