Sunday, 14 September 2014

The Fort Kochi Connection - Onam and Otherwise.

Back in Kerala, when it rains on a sunny day it's supposedly the wedding day of a fox and crow. It was on one such wedding day the most celebrated festival of Kerala, Onam, fell. Onam is that one day where the age old King of Kerala, Mahabali, comes to visit his Kingdom once a year. There's an interesting story behind Onam - please do google or wiki. To sum it up here, this King Mahabali was such a cool dude, everybody loved him, the Gods up there got super jealous and plotted plans to push him down to Paathalam (somewhere under Earth - a no wifi zone!). And he gets to come to Kerala once a year to see his countrymen. And they welcome him with ten days long celebration involving a delicious feast named Onam Sadya, games, floral carpet adorning their garden (Pookalam), Puli Kali (a game where a leopord - puli and the hunter dance together), swing etc etc.

Onam is celebrated by all Keralites alike, no matter what class or religion they belong to. In fact, there is an old adage that translates to "You must eat the Onam feast by all means, even if it is by selling your land".
So being broke is no excuse to miss the Onam Sadya, which is a delicious feast of 26 dishes on a banana leaf..Sluuurrrrp! And it is for this delicious feast that we headed out to The Fort Kochi Connection.

The massive Pookalam
This was my third visit to the place. They have branches in Koramangla (JNC road) and One MG Mall. Onam  Sadya was priced at 500rs per head on Thiruvonam (main Onam of the 10 days) and 400rs on Uthradam . Because of the space limitation in the One MG mall, they had rented out the Food hall on the 4th floor and as soon as we were on the escalator we could hear the sound of Chenda melam. Chenda melam is that instrumental extravagaza with drums that would send any Malayali to the highest threshold of their adrenaline levels (google Thrissur Pooram).

Fort Kochi tried to bring in different elements of Onam by organising a Chenda Melam, Gaanamela (musical extravaganza) and a massive Pookalam (floral carpet to welcome the King). And to see hundreds of fellow Keralites gathered to have the Onam feast together is a priceless feeling when you live outside Kerala. But there was no Mahabali (aka Maveli) to be seen, I guess his visits are strictly limited to the borders of Kerala, it's high time he extended his travel to Bangalore and Gulf!

Chenda melam - a treat to the senses

Onam Sadya with two payasam
Sadya, not so much to my disappointment, was average. I was too preoccupied in my Onam mood to actually realise that the Sadya was not upto the mark. The gluttons with me noticed and were thoroughly disappointed. Of all the dishes, what stood out were the Pineapple pachadi, Avial and the Parippu. Avial quantity was very very less and I hadn't brought my lens along to see which is what! We had to keep calling the servers for another serving. But the servers were amiable, I smiled at the papadam guy and got three of them! This was the first time they had organised a Sadya and it didn't go too well. After all the bad reviews and feedback, Management has apologised in multiple forums, taken the responsibility and said they deserve a second chance. They have organised an additional week of Sadya with 26 dishes and 4 non veg dishes to add on. Thanks to my previous good food experience, I do think they deserve a second chance.

I vividly remember the first ever time I had been to Fort Kochi Connection, I was swept over by the first view itself of a wall adorned with framed pictures of Kathakali and Mohiniattam  (dance forms of Kerala) and right in the middle was a TV that played Avial, a reputed band from Kerala. Though I don't believe so much in first impressions, I must say I gave a plus one there itself! They keep having food festivals on and off and the board of specials would be displayed right outside. They serve authentic Kerala food from different parts of Kerala ranging from Syrian Christian style to mouthwatering Malabari style. In memory of the
First impression, the best impression
colonial times, there's a special dedication to the Bristish and Dutch connection as well in the menu. Their drink menu is very catchy with funky mocktail names like Kalippu Machane, Scene Contra etc. which are the typical slangs used by Kochiites.  I settled for a very humble and simple Nalini, a mix of tender coconut and lychee. Nalini was quite pleasing after the travel in scorching heat.

In two different visits, we tried the Kappa, Erachi Barattiyathu, Chicken Malabari, Appam, Roasted tomato curry, Rice and Mahi Chicken Isque.
Kappa was slightly vaatta kappa, slightly tasteless but could manage. Kappa and fish curry are a jodi made in heaven but we made an unfathomable sin of ordering Chicken Malabari with it, thiking it would go with the appams too. Perhaps all the kappa and fish curry couples in the world showered their curse upon us, the Malabari Chicken curry turned out to be average. They could do a lot better with the favours. Appams were crispy on the outer layer and soft in the middle - just how we would like it. Tomato roast veg curry was pretty good, considering they did justice to a veg curry.

Erachi Barattiyatu - must try!

Kappa (Tapioka) without its soulmate meen curry

Mahi Isque was another disappointment - by now I am sure they are pretty racists and sees chicken a notch below the other meat here. I could think of no other reason why chicken would be ignored so much here. And all that racism has done mighty good justice to erachi. Erachi barattiyathu is your single portkey to heaven. Until you finish the last cube of masala fried meat, you are going to dwell in heaven. I could have licked the plate as well if it was permitted.

Malabari Chicken, Kappa, Tomaro roast curry & Appam

Coming to the desserts, what bowled me over was a delicacy named Vatelappam, a custard made of coconut milk and jaggery. This looked pretty much like a caramel custard garnished with grated coconut. I fell in love with it with the first spoonful itself. The mix of jaggery and tender coconut makes love with your tastebuds. As has been evident and obvious, I endorse coconut and it's cousins wherever possible. This was another such dessert that made the two of us get into mortal combat mode to see whose spoon is going to
His Highness Vattelappam
get the maximum scoops. We, later, realised ordering one more plate would be a good idea to preserve our friendship and did just that. Please keep that tip in mind if and when you are going.

I'm definitely going back here for the erachi and vattelappam and to see if they plan to do any justice to chicken anytime soon. Ofcourse, I would like to try their seafood as well next time.

Kochi style drinks menu

Right there on JNC road

Miss Nalini, so cool.

My rating for the place

Food 3.5/5
Ambiance 4/5
Menu 4/5
Service 4/5

Cost for two 600 for two people, 1000 for gluttons who like extra desserts too.

Address : 77/A, Cygnus Chambers, Jyoti Nivas College Road, Bangalore
Mood of the place - Kerala :)



  1. Interesting names for mocktails and all the food looks good... :)

    1. thanks, Thumbi. you have such a cute blog. I'm gonna sit down and read all of them one weekend. :)