[Alleppey, India] Boathouse cruise of the backwaters

Kerala’s most famous tourist attraction is a cruise of its lush, verdant backwaters on one of the gentle, slow-moving boathouses. We got on one this afternoon, and thoroughly loved the experience.

My cabin. Our houseboat was one of the smaller ones: with two sets of air-conditioned double-bedrooms, each with ensuite bathroom/toilets.

Our cruise started at 12 noon, and lunch was served an hour later:

Karimeen (pearl spot) fish fry - seafood is always very fresh here in Kerala.

Avial - one of my fave vegetable dishes anywhere. It’s creamy-rich with coconut and yoghurt, with carrots, ash gourd, snake gourd and moringa pods.

Puliserry - a rich, sourish stew with ash gourd, yoghurt, turmeric, coconut milk and spices.

Sambhar - very hearty lentil and vegetable stew.

Kovakka Mezhukkupuratti - Tindora (ivy gourd) stir-fry.


Fresh cucumbers with lime & chiles

It was a pretty substantial meal, much spicier than we had anticipated, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Love the idea of dining on-board a slow, lazy boat-cruise.


Our boathouse made a stopover at a local fishmonger’s - we got ourselves some live giant freshwater prawns:

Our boathouse cook made a terrific prawn pepper fry for our dinner:


Oh, mate. It all just leaves me speechless.


Quite an amazing experience, John.

Looks wonderful! Thanks for letting me live vicariously though you and your travels :slight_smile:


I’m loving reading your reports from your trip to India. Did you plan and book everything yourself or through a travel agent? I’m hoping to do a similar trip sometime. Any advice would be much appreciated.

Being on those “Rice Boats” is pure heaven.


WOW, now that’s a my-dad-size prawn :joy: – lobster tail size! (To get them elsewhere they have to be special ordered, unless you want to go to the docks at 4am and compete with the restaurants.)

Hey @klyeoh do they call them boathouses and not houseboats in Kerala? (In Kashmir they’re houseboats, but it’s been a long time since someone I know went on one in Kerala vs the resorts.)


I just checked and they used the term houseboat. :grin:


Hi @medgirl , one of my friends planned the itinerary, and he chose Reality Tours of Mumbai by simply Googling for the different tour agencies available. He liked the fact that the company runs community programs and helped the slum-dwellers of Mumbai.

Some of our guides in Mumbai were born in the slums, but had worked themselves up the social ladder. So far, the company has been very responsive and we enjoyed dealing with them. We do have another week on our holiday.


I am willing to suspend my dislike for eating on boats. Looks like you nailed the experience. And then the prawn fry looks like out of a dream fantasy.

The tindora at my local market is like a miniature Persian cucumber.

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Yes, exactly. They only use the raw ones here, and chop them up before cooking. Ripe ones cannot be used for the dish at all, so the houseboat cook said!

I’ve never known ivy gourd (tindola / tendli / tondli) to be eaten “ripe”.


Thanks very much.
I’m looking forward to your food reports from the remainder of your India tour!