[Kochi. India] Dinner at Oceanos

Our last evening in Kochi, before we go to the “Kashmir of the South”, the cool hill-station retreat of Munnar. We decided to spend our last evening here watching Kerala’s ancient performance art form, the kathakali.

There are several places which offer this theatrical spectacle in town - and if the one we attended, by the Cochin Cultural Centre, was any indication, I’d say one is in for a very enjoyable, as well as informative evening.

There was detailed narration of the art form, and the story we were about to see, at the start of the evening, as well as interactive participation by members of the audience called on stage.

So, by the time the performance proper was staged, albeit in a concatenated form, one was already in full understanding of the various eye and hand gestures, and was able to appreciate the nuances and meaning of the dance performance. This was unlike our experience in Bali’s “kecak” performance where we were there as mere spectators who’d no clue what the whole show was about, except as a colourful spectacle.

Wonderful experience overall.

As the show started at 5pm, and ended at 7pm, we caught dinner afterwards at one pf the many post-theatre dining spots around.

Oceanos is a smallish friendly dining spot on Elphinstone Road - it’s right next to St Andrew’s Parish Hall, and across the road from the Dutch Bungalow Heritage Hotel.

Kochi is probably the only place in India where the local populace take eating beef in their stride - menus in almost every restaurant here would offer beef items. Elsewhere in India, even McDonalds have been smashed up by anti-beef protesters.

Goan Beef Vindaloo - The classic curried dish from Goa. “Vindaloo” gets its name from the Portuguese “Vinha De Alhos,” which refers to the dish’s two key ingredients, “Vinho” (wine) and "Alhos“ (garlic). From being a watery stew in Portugal, cooked with pork or beef, wine vinegar and garlic, it was entirely transformed when the Portuguese introduced the dish to India, with the all-important inclusion of spices and chillies.

As there was no wine vinegar in India, Franciscan priests there made their own from palm wine. Tamarind, black pepper, cinnamon, cardamoms, and other local seasonings were added., together with the most important addition: a legacy of Portugal’s global empire - chilli peppers, which was an American import brought to India.

Travancore Chemeen (Prawn) Roast - thick, unctuous curry that’s full of flavour, blanketing fresh shrimps. I think the dish might fare better had they used larger shellfish.

Kappa Ularthiyathu - boiled tapioca, tossed with shredded coconut and spices. It reminded me of those “Japanese occupation war years’ ration” in Singapore. A novelty, but not really something you’d go for taste-wise.

Kallappam - this very Keralan, nay Indian, mainstay was actually introduced by the Malabari Jews. Cochin has been welcoming Jews since the 12th-century, and it was inevitable that their cuisine influenced, and was counter-influenced in turn, by Malabari cuisine.

As always, there are too many other things on the menu that we wanted to try, but just not enough tummy space to do them justice.

Oceanos Restaurant
Elphinstone Residency, Elphinstone Road (intersection with Napier Street), Fort Kochi, Kochi, Kerala 682001
Tel: +91 9778160024
Opening hours: 11am to 11pm Mon to Fri, 11am to 11.30pm Sat & Sun.