From Kochi to Munnar, then to Thekkady and Alleppey, is a circular route of sorts. Our journey began and ended in Kochi. From Munnar, we went to Thekkady and from there, Trivandrum. It is a long journey. In order to understand this journey,… …it is imperative that you should watch all the Kerala episodes in a chronological order. Otherwise, you may miss the important parts. When you are in Kerala, you cannot miss tapioca. Also, you will definitely enjoy your visit to a spice farm. In Kerala, we make pickle out of this outer skin of mace as well as nutmeg. Namaskar friends! Welcome to Visa2explore! This is your host, Harish Bali. If you want to visit Munnar,… …you must come here for 4 days, at least. There are a lot of places to visit here. Since we visited here for 2 days only, so, obviously, we missed a few things. If I had another day at least, I would have definitely visited…. ….Eravikulam National Park,… …and Kolukkmalai. There is a tea factory in Kolukkmalai as well as some magnificent scenery too. You need to wake up at 4 am if you want to check out the sunrise there. Since the sunrise spot is approachable only by a kachcha road,… …it takes at least 90-120 minutes from Munnar town to reach there. We missed it this time. Maybe some other time, when we come back to Munnar. Right now, we are leaving Munnar for Thekkady. This total journey is 120kms long. If you plan to visit Munnar for a longer duration…. …you can see a lot of sight-seeing activities on this board here,… …you can follow this information. On our way to Thekkady, we plan to stop for breakfast & lunch, including sight-seeing too. And night stay at Thekkady. We’ve stopped at this spot to enjoy the scenic view around. There are four different types of views available. First view is that of the tea gardens in front of us. Beyond the gardens is the lake. Beyond the lake, a dense forest and towards the horizon, the mountains. I mean to say you can stand here for an hour or more but your eyes won’t b satisfied with this view. By now, we have travelled 25kms from Munnar, on our way to Thekkady. Beautiful view! Look a the clouds above! How beautiful! We left Munnar more than an hour ago. And now we’ve reached our next halt. This is how we are enjoying our journey by taking multiple breaks on our way. After buying tickets for Rs. 30 per person, we have not entered this place. How beautiful it is to come to the God’s Own Country! So beautiful! Lake, mountains, trees! They have boating facility and the charges are written here. And the best thing is this gazebo where I am standing. It feels so good here! There is a food court right there. And there was no other option except pineapple juice, so that is what we have ordered. Sour, sweet, delicious! In Kerala, you will get lot of pineapple to eat. Though we are having pineapple for the first time in last four days. Delicious! Now we’ve reached Pooparra. The crossing that you see there, if you turn left from there…. …you will reach Kodaikanal after travelling 125 kms. We are well past the breakfast time! It is 11.30 am already. Let us go and find out about breakfast at Hotel Sreekrishna. Let me tell you what I have on my table here. Tapioca! Green chutney! I mean green chili chutney! There is coconut chutney too! I am eating tapioca for breakfast for the first time. I saw them boiling tapioca with a pinch of turmeric powder. That is why it is yellow in colour. After boiling, they tempered it with fried red chili, curry leaves and mashed it. If we eat it with this chutney, I am sure it will be tasty. So, I am going to add some chutney to my plate. They gave me this second type of chutney as well. In this chutney, I was told, there is coconut…. …green chili and the third ingredient in it is…. …mango. So, to show you, I’ve asked them for this raw tapioca as well as raw mango too. Tapioca is known as ‘Kappa’ in the local language of this region. Tapioca has a little bland flavor. And the chutney has too much of green chili. So, if you eat each bite of tapioca with a little chutney, it makes for a decent breakfast. Basically, this is starch. Tapioca root is used to make sabudana (sago). And tapioca grows in large quantities in Tamil Nadu & Kerala. This time I am having a bite of tapioca with coconut and mango chutney. You know what, I prefer eating tapioca with coconut-mango chutney….. …in comparison to the green chutney. On a personal level, I am enjoying this chutney as a combination more. This tapioca, I found out, is also considered a good combination with fish curry. Kappa with fish curry. Sir, how is the meal? It is good! Kappa is good in taste and I liked this combination better. Sir, I was looking at that table. What is there in that serving bowl? Buttermilk? Yes, buttermilk! You can eat it with rice! Okay, one buttermilk for me. Thank you! Very spicy chutney! Buttermilk for you! Ok. Thank you! Very tasty buttermilk! Curry leaves! Ginger! Sour! And so fresh! Sir, just a minute! Sir, very tasty! Curry leaves, ginger, and…. Ahh, salt! Salt! Ginger! Chili! It has chili too! It is delicious! Very, very good! You can try it with some plain rice too! Okay! Rice and buttermilk is a good meal for summer season! Yeah, I know. It is very good, very tasty! Too good! What is this Sir? This is a different version of buttermilk. It has spices in it. Coconut! Chili! Turmeric powder! All 3 mixed into the buttermilk. And it should be eaten with rice? Yes, with rice! In Kerala, it is called Pullisheri. Pullisheri. Pullisheri. In Kerala, it is called Pullisheri! Very nice Sir! Very nice! Back to tapioca. I have a feeling that if I keep on eating this combination, I will develop a taste for it. That would be because this is an interesting combination in itself. Our next destination is Kalvari Mount. We will have to travel a distance of 55kms to reach there. The road is smooth and traffic is thin. We are travelling at an average of 50kms per hour. Thekkady is still 20kms away. We’ve stopped here for a spice farm visit. This place is called Periyar Spices & Ayurvedic Garden. We’ve purchased ticket at the rate of Rs. 100 per person for the garden visit. This is a guided tour and I have with me Ms. Sheeba, who will take us around the garden. Please come! This is an All Spice plant, which emanates the qualities of all spices in one. You can check and smell for yourself the fantastic fragrance of all spices. Multiple spices’ fragrance in a single leaf. Fantastic! This is the fruit is spice Jaiphal (nutmeg). We pluck it like this. This is Jaiphal and Javitri (mace). Okay, this is the ripe fruit. See, this is javitri outside and inside is jaiphal. This is jaiphal, this is javitri and this outer skin is used to make pickle in Kerala. This is elaichi (green cardamom). This elaichi is ready in 2 months’ time. By ready, I mean, the black seeds inside the elaichi are ready. This is elaichi. This fruit if elaichi is dried in an electric machine. You get 1 kg of elaichi after drying 6 kg inside that machine. This is the Rudraksh tree in front of us, standing tall. This is rudraksh. This is fruit of rudraksh. It becomes like this after this skin is removed. You can watch the grooves on it clearly. This is a five-groove rudraksh. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5! This, you must be aware, is cocoa, from which chocolate is made. And we can also make skin moisturizer out of cocoa butter. This is cocoa fruit. And we will cut it open like this. Okay, so you will show it to us from inside. Ohh, so this looks white in color! Yes, it is white in colour! I assumed it would be brown on the inside. No! The seeds inside this white pulp are brown in color. This is butter, we use it as moisturizer, cocoa butter! And the seeds are used to make cocoa powder. The seeds are dried to make cocoa powder. Is it edible? Yes, you can eat it, definitely! It is sweet! Yes, it is sweet! You know walnut… Yes, it tastes like walnut! Its taste is similar to that of walnut! First experience! One more piece! Yes! Thank you! It is a bit sweet as well as a bit bitter! Yes, because the actual taste of cocoa is bitter. Only the cocoa butter is sweet. Point! Okay, tell me one more thing. Can we also take out the brown seed from inside. This is cocoa seed. This is used to make chocolate. Good experience! You showed us cocoa fruit from inside as well as outside. Here are two more pieces of cocoa fruit! What you are seeing in front of you is the fruit of Arabica coffee. In Coorg, we had shot a detailed documentary – coffee from farm to cup of coffee. We had covered robusta and arabica varieties in detail. If you missed that video, do watch it in detail. This is adrak (ginger) plant. See! We use its shoots to plant more ginger. That is how we get more ginger from ginger. And after we plant the shoot, it takes 9 months for the ginger to grow to its full size. This is turmeric, which we use in cooking our food. Ma’am told me that this needs to be boiled in water…. …then dried under the sun. After that it is ground, which gives us the turmeric powder. Uhh, let me smell its fragrance once. Obviously, it is turmeric, so that is what it would smell of. This is passion fruit. It is a juicy, citrus fruit, with lots of Vitamin C. Wow! Fantastic! So, can I eat it? Yes, you can! How? You need to press it. Wow!!! This is the fruit inside. This fruit is sour! After this fruit is ripe, it tastes sweet and sour, both. This is ajwain (carom seeds) plant. It grows a flower right in the center here. And from that flower, we get the carom seed. If you smell, its leaves smell the same as ajwain seeds. By the way, I am looking at ajwain leaf and ajwain plant, both, for the first time. If you smell it after crushing, it smells of ajwain. Have you seen jimikand (yam) fruit? Jimikand, I haven’t seen. You haven’t. Come, let me show it to you. See, this is jimikand. It is bigger in size than this, right? Yes, it is bigger than this. Will this grow bigger? The one growing below it is very big in size. The fruits growing above ground stay smaller. This is jimikand. Small one and big one! From this stage, this fruit can grow to weigh even 5kgs. Within this farm, they also have a spice shop. We are going into the shop. Elaichi! How much does it cost? This one is Rs. 1600 per kg and this one is Rs. 1800 per kg. And clove? Clove is for Rs. 1200 per kg. Great! So, do you sell pickles too? Yeah, sure! Please show him! This is green pepper pickle! Pepper is picked when it is still green and then made into pickle. Green pepper pickle! Green pepper pickle! Good! Oil is a major component in clove. Most of the times, the clove that you get in the market has no oil in it. Bite into a clove slightly and hold this for 20-30 seconds. I have had it in my mouth for 20 seconds. So, my tongue has turned a little numb. It is because of the properties of clove oil. Which means, it is a good quality clove. Yes, Sir! This clove has a strong flavor. Very good! I’ve got 3 things for myself from here. Saunth (dried ginger)! This is the perfect remedy for a sore throat. Pickle! I liked it. And third thing is 100 gms of clove. Thank you! There should be no time limit on a journey. I mean we leave at 9.30 am and cover 100kms in 2 hours. I like to travel at my own convenience. It is 5.15 pm now. We stopped at several places on our way and this is one of those stops. To eat some snacks. Banana fry with onion pakora (fritter)! While travelling in Kerala, you will notice during the peak time of 3pm to 5pm,… …to eat banana fry as a snack. And this what you see here is Kalonji (onion seeds). I wanted to eat banana fry for evening snack for the past four days. And I am really enjoying eating it today. It goes without saying it is my first time eating banana fry. The way banana is fried after being dipped into the batter made with besan (chickpea flour),… …it tastes good! Banana is very sweet and on frying, it tastes delicious. Mmm! Very tasty! The banana is sliced beautifully and… (laughter) Very good! Whenever you come to Kerala, make sure you don’t miss this. Very tasty! Let us go stand on that side now. If you are a nature lover,… …what would be better than… …to stand here and enjoy this beautiful view… ….and enjoy this onion pakora too. And if you get some tea too with it, then that would be a perfect tea time. This is good as well. But the banana fry’s taste is in a different league altogether. This is good! Right now, we need to go another 18kms to reach Thekkady. We will have our tea and then start again from here. Brother, a cup of tea and…. …they have some more varieties of snacks available here. Till what time in the evening is your shop open? 8 o’ clock. 8 o’ clock. Yes, finally, we’ve reached Thekkady. It is 7 pm now and we had left Munnar at 9.30 am today. After multiple stops on the way, we covered 120 kms… of this journey at leisure. The market is still open. We are going to go for dinner first. After that we will go to our hotel. We’ve reached the Grandma’s Cafe for dinner. As soon as you enter, you realize that their interiors are quite different and unique. There is an old cycle dangling there. An old-fashioned sewing machine. Anyways, let us check out what is available for dinner. We will eat one mushroom dish with Kerala parotta. So, I also want to see how do you cook this dish. Okay, to cook this dish, they added some fennel seeds to hot coconut oil. Fantastic! Curry leaves! Okay, so I’ve spotted two differences so far! Coconut oil and curry leaves! Also coconut! This is how mushroom is cooked Kerala-style. After the onions are browned a bit, he added tomatoes, salt and some turmeric powder. Coriander powder! After the spice mixture is cooked well, he added chopped mushrooms. I feel this dish is going to be very tasty. The reason for that could be – use of coconut oil, for one. Second, the whole spices, garam masala, that is used in it. Since spices grow in Kerala,… Fantastic! After being cooked, the texture of this mushroom looks amazing. Mmm! First of all, this combination works well together. And second thing… …garam masala and coconut oil are the two game-changing factors in this preparation. That is something I gauged from the first bite itself. Mmm! Fennel seeds! Tempered with coconut oil and with that… …we cannot miss the flavor of curry leaves. When mushroom is cooked in North India, they don’t use curry leaves usually. Coriander leaves are used instead. However, here, we have been seeing for the past four days, how curry leaves are frequently used. There are curry leaves in every dish. Now it is going to be like… …when I go back home, I am going to miss eating curry leaves in my food. This is because I’ve now become quite used to to curry leaves. One more thing,… …worth mentioning…. …is the little bits of raw coconut also added to the dish while tempering. You get those bits too in your bite. In this journey of mine, I cannot help but notice,… ,…while talking to my fellow travellers and the restaurant owners,… …that people generally do not prefer eating dishes cooked with coconut oil. Here, I am not talking about locals, but tourists. But, in reality, you need to eat it more than once and develop a taste. It is quite delicious. This is a good experience. To enjoy food like this. With an open mind! Complete thumbs up to this preparation. After enjoying our dinner earlier, we’ve now reached our hotel. It is 9 pm now. We had left at 9.30 am today and now it is 9 pm. We really enjoyed our day today. If you have some experiences related to this specific leg of journey or to Kerala, in general,… …do share the same with us through your comments. Tomorrow we are going to do some local sight-seeing in Thekkady. That you will see in a different episode. There is slight drizzle outside. The weather is cloudy and windy. And that makes it pleasant to stay here in Thekkady. We will meet soon with a new episode. Till then, goodbye! See you soon! In our next episode, you will see… …what all we did in Thekkady. For your reference,… …the martial art form, Kalari, originated in Kerala. It is one of the oldest forms of martial arts. It is a must to go for an Ayurvedic massage while on a tour in Kerala. We will meet soon with a new and exciting journey. Till then goodbye! See you soon! Ohhh! Oh God! So cute!