"Wading neck deep in a swamp, your revolver is neither use nor ornament until you have had time to clean it" Mary H. Kingsley (1897)


Old Spice

Inside one of the many spice shops of Broadway, Cochin:

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The amazing blends of sweet, tangy aromas were quite intoxicating.


Ginger Snaps

A Trip To Fort Cochin’s Ginger Market

Yesterday we visited Fort Cochin’s ginger market, tucked away in the back-streets of Mattancherry .

Entering through an arched alleyway,

You arrive in the large open courtyard, which is given over to thousands of drying ginger roots.

As the sun moves across the sky, and the shadows from adjacent buildings shift around the yard, the colours of the ginger fades from browns to greys.

In the warehouses which surround the courtyard, women shake the now-dry ginger and sieve it,

So that the rooms are filled with ginger dust, which tickles your throat and produces a momentary, dry cough.

Surprisingly, the smell of ginger is not overpowering but subtle.

The ginger is then sacked and weighed, ready for dispatch

To the domestic and international markets.


“Money cant buy you love, but it can get you some really good chocolate ginger biscuits.”   Dylan Moran


History of Ginger*

Ginger has a long history. It was grown originally in Asia probably about 5000 years ago, where it was used in food and also in medicine. In China, Shang dynasty rulers from before the 8th century BC had identified Sichuan as the site where the finest ginger was grown and Marco Polo on his travels reported seeing vast plantations of it growing in Cathay, as he called it.

By the first century AD it had been brought to the Mediterranean by traders and by the Middle Ages, ginger was highly valued, one pound of ginger buying a live sheep. In the sixteenth century, Henry VIII was recommending its use as a remedy for the plague while his daughter, Queen Elizabeth, is credited with the invention of the gingerbread man. The Spaniards took ginger with them to Mexico and the West Indies where it flourished, especially in Jamaica. In the nineteenth century, ginger ale was first made by adding powdered ginger to beer and stirring the mixture with a hot poker.

* Reproduced from Ann Burnett’s article on Ginger on Suite101.com



Plat du Jour

Dalila and Shaji, the husband and wife team who look after both me and my home, work from Monday to Saturday. On Sunday they take a well deserved break.

Fortunately, before leaving on Saturday, Dalila stocks up the fridge with pots of freshly prepared curries.

Generally speaking, I would rather go out, or without, than enter the kitchen. So on Sunday morning Sumant, my bright (B.A. Hons.) and eager, resident houseboy, turns his mind to feeding us.

Since working for me, he has mastered the cooking of rice and chappatis. Today a friend makes an early visit, to broaden Sumant’s skills.

First: onions, garlic, curry leaves, ginger and green chilli are chopped.


are washed

and salted.

A little of the diced vegetable is added

while the rest is fried with mustard seeds in coconut oil.

Then the two parts are united, chilli powder is added, and the mixture boiled for a little longer.

Meanwhile, chappatis are being prepared:

The master-class is almost finished.

Breakfast is served:

Dhal and chappatis, with freshly pressed papaya juice.

The Kerala alternative to a full English breakfast.