What I find myself missing, more than any of the sites and sounds and flavours of Kerala, is its breakfasts. The coffee was pretty lousy, and I wasn’t really taken with the masala chai. (Wonderful fresh spices – cardamon, ginger, cinnamon, cloves – but typically mixed with Tetley.)
But what pleasure those morning smorgasbords! Fresh fruit, of course, and juices. And then great rounds (sometimes hats) of crisp dosa served with the vegetable-tamarind stew called sambar. Or those that came filled with potato masala.
Uppumavu made with semolina, mustard seed, ginger and onion. Idiyappan of steamed rice noodle nests sprinkled with toasted coconut and a side of egg masala.
Aloo booda – potato balls coated with chickpea flour, studded with cumin and mustard seed and flecked green with chilies. The steamed urad dal and rice cakes called Idli with great dollops of coconut chutney. Puttu made with rice flour and grated coconut and eaten with sweet bananas. Kallappam, rice pancakes studded with shallots and cumin seed.
And my favourite – the addictive vada, Kerala’s breakfast donuts, of lentils, soaked, ground, fermented and seasoned with mustard seed and curry leaves, and sometimes with chilies and shallots, shaped into rounds, poked with a thumb, and deep fried. I tried to limit myself to three a day.