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To get to the heart of India you have to go via the nation’s stomach: food is a true way of experiencing India’s diverse culture. Based on the food one eats, one can identify where one comes from and sometimes also which religion one belongs to. We want to take you on an extraordinary food trail through warm and wonderful south India which grows the most exotic spices in the world – black pepper, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric etc. Rainfall is abundant and so is the supply of fresh fruit, vegetables, rice and the omnipresent coconut. South Indian food is a brilliant blend of flavors, colors, seasoning, nutritional balance, fragrance, taste, and visual appeal.
The trip is the first of its kind from Scandinavia and offers an authentic, hands-on cultural experience of South India. The journey through the four southern states includes visits to tea, coffee and spice plantations, vibrant markets, farm visits, private homes, cooking classes and provide insights on religion, culture and society through food.
We will start our journey in the historic city of Cochin in Kerala which has hosted the spice trade for thousands of years bringing early Christians, Jews, Arab traders and then the Europeans to its shores. We will learn about the rich spice trade, visit the fish & spice market, learn how to cook the food of the Syrian Christians and experience the food & culture of the Jews of Kerala. In Kerala’s scenic backwaters you will live in a Hindu village where you can observe the local fishermen, visit the many rice fields, see toddy making and participate in the cooking process with the local women from the village. In the evergreen mountains you will pluck your own tea leaves and exotic spices. In Kannur the lady of the house will teach us her seafood specialties from the coastal region of Malabar and in Tellicherry we will experience the richness of the Muslim Moplah cuisine. The Kerala trail ends with a rich nature visit to a national park with the highest concentration of tigers in the state.
In the state of Karnataka we will start with the wonderful hills of Coorg, experience and learn about their unique food culture that includes pork, live in and learn about the rich south Indian coffee at a coffee plantation and trek to the highest peak in Coorg. We will then move to the plains under Nandi Hills, a beautiful farm that practices natural farming and participate in the entire cooking process – from farm to table under professional guidance! Here you have an option to visit a vineyard in the vicinity. From the countryside we will visit the cosmopolitan city of Bangalore, the center of India’s IT industry. Here we will take a food walk and experience the vibrant street food from all the corners of India and eat a traditional thali in the legendary Mavalli Tiffin Room, served on a silver tray.
The journey continues to the state of Andhra Pradesh and Tirupati where you travel to the world’s most visited holy place – Venkateswara temple. An average of 30 to 40 million people visit the temple annually and if you are lucky, you will serve in the temple’s giant dining room that is feeding the pilgrims. The food of Andhra Pradesh can be very fiery. From Tirupathi we will move to Chennai and experience the wonderful vegetarian treats and Chettinad cuisine. South Indian cuisine is rice based. Rice is combined with lentils to make wonderful dosas, idlis, vadas and uttapams. These items are delicious besides being nourishing and digestible (due to the fermenting process). They are combined with sambar (dal), rasam (tamarind dal), dry and curried vegetable and pachadi (yogurt).
In Chennai we will organize a charity lunch that will be prepared with the help of the travelers who will also serve the lunch. The trip ends with a fantastic meal at Sanjoo’s parent’s home.
This once in a lifetime experience takes you through seas and lakes, mountains and forests between different states, religions and social classes. Authentic Indian food, real meetings & learnings, out of the box dining experiences are promised. We offer you an opportunity to the tastiest way to India.
To give you a preview and taste of India, our tour guide Sanjoo Malhotra is organizing cooking classes with a focus on South Indian Cuisine. For more information please check http://ootbtravel.com/?p=1890
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