Chocolate and squid. If I was to choose a last meal, for whatever reason, they would be the two feature ingredients. God I love squid. I’m not sure why, and when I think about those rubbery circles or chunks of tentacled rubberyness it doesn’t sound that appetising yet some of the greatest meals I’ve ever eaten have been squid based…. From the pink tubes of squid stuffed with something akin to kimchi and black pudding or the actual plate of writhing tentacled or countless other times in South Korea. Or the incredible dish I had in a Portuguese restaurant in Crystal Palace or the varying dishes brimming with squid I’ve eaten in Kochi in the recent weeks. So in no particular order here are my top ‘squid’ moments of south India!
1. Seafood thoran at Spice Fort, Princess Street
I didn’t know what thoran was when I ordered it. I just knew it said ‘squid’ as part of the ingredients. The menu described it as seafood with a coconut sauce… Cocubet yes, sauce no. Thoran according to Wikipedia is a traditional Keralan dish in which gratec coconut and grated vegetables are fried together with a number of spices including curry leaves, turmeric and chili. Unsure of the consistency or how much food I’d actually get, the seafood thoran is part of the starters/appetisers section of the menu, I also ordered parotta which I didn’t actually need and on this occasion gave to a friend. At spice fort the seafood thoran replaces the veg with seafood and you get a fresh and nourishing dish that is packed with fish including both squid and prawns!
2. Seafood salad at Kashi Arts Cafe, Burgher Street
Kashi’s reputation is to serve healthy locally sourced dishes; it’s not the place to go if you fancy a Coke and fries! Their vaguely middle eastern inspired menu is minimal and the dishes comparatively sparse in relation to other restaurant portions. I went to Kashi predominantly because I wanted something fresh and healthy and ideally a dish that hadn’t been boiled or fried to beyond recognition. I also needed a major protein fix. Given that Kerala and in deed fort kochi is famous for its fish, it’s no suprusing it’s heavily featured on the Kashi menu. The seafood salad, as you can see, is predominantly seafood and consists of prawns, squid and huge hunks of tuna drizzled in a mustard sauce. They say it’s mustard, however it has as much resemblance to command as apple juice does! Even though it did the trick and since discovering it I’ve been back numerous times to wolf it down.
3. Any squid dish at Fort House…
No pictures. Although for the sake of accuracy I had to cycle back to the restaurant situated on the Bazaar road/Calvetty road strip to get the correct name of the dish I favoured. The menu has two squid dishes as mains, squid pepper garlic which you can find in most seafood places and squid olarthu. It’s the latter you should order. According to the menu it’s a traditional Keralan dry dish, which means you don’t necessarily need an accompaniment of rice/bread, I actually had it with a side of cauliflower fritters…but hey ho. Essentially you get a plate of squid rings that have been fried up with a whole bunch of spices and served in a banana leaf. It’s pretty epic.
I wasn’t going to add Fusion bay at number 4. Fusion bay has a fantastic reputation amount locals and tourist sites and like Dal Roti is always packed and queuing for an evening table is almost expected. The menu is vast, I’ve eaten their twice. First I ordered the typical and popular Keralan dish ‘fish in banana leaf’ which was fine. I’ve had it before and to be fair it was better previously. Then I went back to try one of their squid dishes. Now my stomach wasn’t 100% to start with so I’m not sure if it was fusion bay or just food but by god, after the experience that followed i won’t be running back quickly. It’s a shame but I guess part of the package of being a foodie and squid lover in India. And it definitely hasn’t changed the fact not squid and chocolate would be my last meal of choice… Maybe even squid covered chocolate?!?!