With four days down and eight more to go in Kerala, India, I began my fifth day in God’s Own Country with a jam-packed morning. Come along with me and my buddy Ebbin as we explore more of this beautiful area and I take a south Indian cooking class on how to make idiyappam and dosas in Thekkady, Kerala, India!
My day started at the gorgeous Periyar Tiger Reserve, the best place in Kerala to see tigers! I boarded the bus that would take us there. It costs 500 rupees/$6.68 USD for foreigners to enter the reserve, plus another 20 rupees/$0.27 USD for the bus ride. It takes about 20 minutes to get there. Once you’re there, you can take a boat ride, go trekking, go to the lake, and more. We only had time to do one thing, so we decided to head straight for the lake.
If you go there to see tigers, I suggest going to the park on multiple days to increase your chances. Even in reserves like this, tigers are very elusive and much harder to spot than other animals like the Big 5 in Africa. Here, they might see only one per year! You have to get lucky.
My friend Ebbin got recognized left and right while we were there! He’s super famous here.
We arrived at Thekkady Lake. The lake was beautiful. There was a mist that hung over the water and between the trees, giving the who area a mysterious atmosphere. In front of the lake is a board that shows the birdlife that you can see here. You can also see elephants, antelopes, and more. The best time to see tigers is in the mornings and afternoons on Jeep safari and night trekking.
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A 2.5-hour nature walk costs 1,400 rupees/$18.70 USD for foreigners and locals. We didn’t have time to do that, though, so we headed on to breakfast. We’d be having string hoppers, which are basically Indian noodles.
We made it back to our hotel, the Woodnote Resort, to have breakfast in Drizzle, their onsite restaurant. There, we’d see how they make string hoppers and chicken stew. I was hoping for some spice!
We entered the kitchen and put on our hairnets. We saw a puri-like flatbread that’s made with peanut flour. It looked very fluffy and crispy. I tried flipping the dosas, but I kind of messed them up! Then, I saw some of the spices used in the chicken stew, like cinnamon and star anise.
I watched as they cooked the chicken curry and then tried my hand at making my own dosas. I was a natural at it! I made one a little bigger like the ones I ate in Karnataka! I stacked them all and put them in a large dish. I couldn’t help but try one. It was so hot! I dipped it into coconut chutney, which was outstanding!
The coconut chutney was chunky, sweet, and fresh. Then, they brought me some sambar, which was so light and flavorful. But the coconut chutney was the star! I dipped my whole dosa in it! It was good enough to drink!
Then, they poured some coconut chutney over my dosa. It contained a chili and was nice and creamy. The dosa absorbed the chutney, which was the best part! The chilies gave the chutney a nice bit of heat. This is my go-to in southern India!
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Then, we watched the chef make string hoppers, or idiyappam. I watched him do it because it was my turn next!
I started by adding a bit of coconut oil on the pan and added some coconut to it. Then, I took the presser and pressed the noodles out on top of it. Then, you add more coconut on top and do another layer. I used too much oil but kept going. I added more coconut to the top of the string hoppers and covered it until it started steaming!
My string hoppers arrived at my table. It came with coconut milk and chicken stew. It looked so buttery and had huge chunks of chicken in it. The coconut milk was so yummy! You can eat the string hoppers with chicken, beef, or mutton stew, but traditionally, it’s eaten with creamy coconut milk and a bit of sugar. Ebbin added a lot of sugar to mine!
I mixed it all with my hands and tried a big handful. It was so sweet! I loved the thin, soft noodles. The coconut milk bound it all together. It was really good.
Then, I got some fresh string hoppers and added some chicken and some of its creamy coconut curry on top. Together, it was fantastic and really unique! It was sweet and savory, with cinnamon and cardamom flavors bursting out, along with curry leaves and chicken. The coconut milk made it extremely creamy!
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I was in love with this dish! It’s a type of appam, called idiyappam. Next, I tried it with just the coconut sauce. I’d had string hoppers once in Sri Lanka, but it was eaten with veg dishes there. It’s like a sweet coconut creamy pasta. It’s not extremely common, so you have to find a place that specializes in it. I ordered it a la carte.
I love coconut. Being from south Florida, we eat the meat and drink it every day! This was now my favorite thing to have for breakfast. It even surpasses dosas for me now! I couldn’t get enough of it. It was so good, I didn’t even need the chicken with it. This south Indian idiyappam and dosas were out of this world!
After breakfast, Ebbin and I linked back up with Dennis from the Woodnote Resort. We headed off to do something really special. I was going to get the opportunity to bathe an elephant! I was so excited!
We arrived at Tusker Trail, where you can do several different activities, including a 3-hour jungle safari, a 1.5-hour Kerala sightseeing tour, a 1.5-hour Tamil Nadu sightseeing tour, elephant baths, and more.
There were coffee beans growing on the property. They produce coffee here, as well as good tea, pepper plants, and cardamom plants. I tried a pepper pod. It was really strong! Then I headed over to meet the elephant. There was a guy scrubbing him down with a hose and brush. Then, it was my turn. It was such a gorgeous creature.
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I followed the guy’s instructions and brushed the elephant’s trunk. It takes a long time to wash them I could feel the air coming out of her trunk. She was so beautiful. Then, I washed her tail, which was super rough and felt like huge whiskers. I stayed around her back because doing her belly can startle her and you don’t want her to accidentally hurt you.
As I washed her, I could see bits of dirt and small insects like ticks on her skin. I brushed them off. She stood up so I could clean her face and trunk. It was so massive! What a beautiful and unique experience!
And what an amazing morning learning to make south Indian idiyappam and dosas! I have to thank my friends at the Woodnote Resort for making my time in Thekkady so memorable. They’re the best hotel in Thekkady. You have to stay there when you come to this part of Kerala. Be sure to check out their Instagram and website to learn more and to book your own stay.
I also have to thank my boy Ebbin for being such an incredible guide and for showing me around this beautiful state! For more Kerala food videos, check out his YouTube channel and be sure to follow him on Instagram as well!
I hope you loved coming with me as I learned the ropes of south Indian cooking and made idiyappam and dosas! If you did, please give this video a thumbs up and leave a comment below. Also, please subscribe to my YouTube channel and click the notification bell so you don’t miss any of my travel/food adventures around the world!