Cochin is the capital of Kerala and Bedford’s very own South Indian award winning namesake restaurant invited us along to enjoy the cuisine.
There are certainly plenty of interesting choices available. Tea shop snacks are popular to start with and throughout the menu we see the word ‘toddy shop speciality’– these are traditional, local shacks in India that serve freshly cooked ‘street food.’
We began the evening feast with a snack tray consisting of light and crispy poppadum’s, achappam, (hard snacks made of rice flour, coconut and sesame seeds), pappadavda, (poppadums dipped in rice flour flavoured with cumin and sesame seeds) and banana chips. all accompanied with mango pickle, lemon pickle, chefs special home-made pickles, coconut coriander chutney and grated coconut mixed with fresh coriander, ginger, garlic and red chillies; all different flavours, pungent and warming and the pappadava were a particularly good accompaniment.
My choice of starter was the minty chilli prawns – tiger prawns cooked in a sauce made with chillies, chopped garlic, and tomato sauce, finished with fresh mint leaves. They were absolutely delicious and the fresh bite of mint adds a real zing- a true mix of sweet and sour. Another unusual but very tasty starter was a ‘tea shop’ speciality – boiled egg roast – a boiled egg coated in batter, fried and served with special sauce. This combination worked beautifully and I would highly recommend this.
Then came the star of the show – the Dosa. A large, crispy, thin folded bread, very popular in India and made from a mixture of lentils and rice ground together. We chose the masala dosa, stuffed with potato masala served with sambar and chutneys. Very crispy and light, not a heavy bread at all. It had such a light flavour and the filling was warming and slightly spicy. Delicious and a must! Would be great for just a lunch snack on its own too.
One thing to note is how, because this food is gluten free, it doesn’t leave you feeling full and bloated; that makes a difference when there is so much to get through! We ordered several smaller portions of the mains to sample the different dishes.
Cochin fish curry
A unique preparation of coastal areas of Kerala. Meaty chunks of king fish steaks marinated in chilli powder, turmeric, lemon juice and salt, cooked in coconut milk sauce. It is creamy without being too heavy, medium spicy and was delicious with the basmati rice.
The Kappa Meen curry
Another toddy shop speciality, tapioca cubes boiled with Kerala spices and sautéed with coconut, green chillies, crushed garlic and curry leaves and tempered with mustard Seeds, served with fish curry. It came presented in a beautiful large curry leaf and unfolded to reveal the tastiest tapioca I have ever had! Spices and again, the warmth and flavour, not heat, radiated from it and complemented the curry so well. Every mouthful was a real experience.
The Lamb Ularthiyathu was sublime. Tender lamb cubes cooked in turmeric powder and stir fried in a masala made of red onion, ginger, garlic, curry leaves and sliced coconut. Stunning flavours and can be cooked to suit your palette. It was really rather exotic and the lamb melted in the mouth.
Nadan chicken curry a mouth-watering dish. It is a roasted coriander seeds based curry made with coconut oil and coconut milk. A very tasty, thick curry with a great flavour of spice and warmth. Complemented the rice and appam, an unusual speciality silky soft bread made with rice flour and fermented batter.
After all this fantastic food, unfortunately there was no room for anything sweet but this restaurant is a very welcome addition to our town with a really different experience and a variety of choices to suit every palate and preference. Even if you are not a traditional curry lover you will enjoy the Keralan cuisine. We would highly recommend The Cochin – why not go and try it for yourself!
www.thecochinbedford.com Call to book on 01234 328388