For me one of the big highlights of Kerala was staying at The Pimenta in Kadalikad, which is a very special place run by a very special guy called Jacob. Besides the fun and instructional way he teaches you to create fantastic Keralan vegetarian and vegan food, he always seems way ahead of you in thinking up very nice things to please his guests… Every moment with Jacob is a time warp and he makes every hour count in life.

This energy, this vision, is contagious too! I found that myself and my fellow cookery pupils were very energetic and high-spirited throughout the day and putting plenty of love into their cooking in the evening! And the food? Well when we dined on our own hard work under the moonlight it was food fit for the gods!

Typical Kadalikad home

So Jacob treated us to many pleasures. One of the colourful trips was to a local truck paint workshop (lucky me: went there twice…!). India has some of the most beautiful and colourful trucks in the world. From what I learned, an Indian truck driver is responsible for the truck and decoration, and there is a lot of self-respect to be derived from splashing out on good artwork and signage!

If I could have donated something from my own studio for these artisans it would have been some fume extraction equipment, dust masks and gloves!

Resprayed and ready for collection, Kadalikad truck paint shop

Taj Mahal no more! Kadalikad truck paint shop

Kadalikad truck paint shop tools

Jacob enthralled us with an extraordinary sight at a local rubber workshop! As we approached from the lush forest, we came upon these bright neon pink, orange and green dangling shapes. The owners welcomed us to wander around and take photos. Seeing how these rubber gloves and rubber bands came to be is pretty insightful, particularly since this area is seeing an increase in profitable rubber tree plantations which is not good for the prospect of other trees and plant life. I hope Kerala maintains the harmony!!

Hands up for those washing up tonight! Kadalikad rubber workshop

Old moulds, Kadalikad rubber workshop

Rubber vulcanization process, Kadalikad

Early one other morning, Jacob took us to a local commercial pineapple ‘stock exchange’ where growers bring their pineapples and traders weigh and buy them.

Jacob bought a selection of fresh pineapples for our cookery class later in the day… Tasty!

Kadalikad pineapple agencies

We also visited a local producer of some much-loved India snack foods – this place was extremely warm to walk around with all the fires, hot oiled pans and cooking fumes!Β  Some of the machinery and tools were pretty ingenious and, considering the heat, they were impressively controlled by the cooks.

Kadalikad snack plant

Elsewhere the textile workshops in Jacob’s area are really worth a visit, especially if you have room in the backpack for a few sarongs or a cotton bedsheet. If not, it’s still amazing to see how the Indian artisans use the looms and weave cotton to create the beautiful finished products.

A few fellow pupils bought several fabrics pieces and I know these will carry good memories of the times here. πŸ˜‰

Kadalikad textiles workshop

Dining out for a Kerala thali lunch (tray per person)

Just before dusk one day, Jacob took myself and a few fellow pupils high up in the hills to see and smell the spectacular terrain of his region. It was quite a beautiful haunting sight… the smokey greens and greys layered the lush treetops and the horizon was tricky to catch. The locals’ stove fires created a rich deep woody aroma above the trees and palms. A piece of heaven is here.

Kadalikad treetop view

Pimenta’s star pupil, the enigmatic Jane of London, smells the Kadalikad lemongrass

One of the earliest morning starts with Jacob took us to the cutest of cutest sights… the elephant sanctuary, which is home to orphaned elephants in need. There are elephants of all ages here and they all seem to be very happy – and why wouldn’t they be?! It’s elephant heaven… trees, trees, trees, wide lazy river, a few smiley tourists each the size of an adult elephant leg, food, cats, elephant whisperers, and plenty of love to go around!

Kerala elephant sanctuary (teen elephants)

A and A filming a lady elephant in her boudoir!

Baby elephants, Kerala elephant sanctuary

Another day with Jacob, but this time not on land! Whilst most tourists in this part of India will opt for some kind of boat ride in these waters, we were lucky to have local contacts for an extra quiet trip followed by lunch. I tried to photograph this area but I couldn’t do it justice! Just go and then you’ll see what I mean πŸ˜‰

Kumarakom by water. Bliss.

Kumarakom by water. Lush.

Typical house by the water, Kumarakom

LOVE THIS!! Typical house by the water, Kumarakom

Typical house by the water, Kumarakom

Typical house by the water, Kumarakom

We had breakfast at Chillout Cafe on Cherai Beach after visiting the elephant sanctuary. The friendly guy running the place was from Paris so it was hard to resist ordering in the Brussels euro-French. Luckily, love is all around us in India and such little follies are taken in good spirits! Served with a view of the diving dolphins enjoying the hazy morning blues, the breakfast and English tea were excellent!

Breakfast, Cherai Beach

Cherai Beach, where dolphins play close by!

And so, what of all my talk of Jacob and no picture yet?

Well here he is below on the right, in a magnificent crimson outfit, getting ready to photoshoot his pupils’ cooking. Of course, he was keeping an eye on the rest of his pupils – Jacob can multi-task! – so my pics below are shot without hesitation! (That’s my excuse for the blurring anyway…)

Jacob directing his pupils in Pimenta’s kitchens

Pimenta’s cookery school delights… the Vendakka Mappas

Pimenta’s cookery school delights… Aubergine Vindaloo, Sambhar, Okra Thoran, Palak Paneer, et al

Pimenta’s star pupil, the adorable A!

Pimenta’s cookery pupils, the magical A and A!

Chill out lounge at The Pimenta

Jacob’s party bag for his departing pupils!!

Whilst popping out for ice-cream we see the Kadalikad sunset!

I was extremely fortunate to experience a very special massage called the “4-hand Abhyanga“, also known as the “dance of 4 hands” at an Ayurvedic clinic, kindly arranged by Jacob on my behalf.

During such a massage two ladies place themselves at either side of the wooden massage table where you lie completely naked in anticipation! These ladies move in perfect synchronisation for one hour, stimulating all your energy zones with firm, choreographed hands. The warm oil they amply apply to your body has a woody, aniseed aroma and this can be inhaled slowly as you enjoy the sensations!

This was followed by an India head massage, then a cleaning/bathing session. I felt like an angel and floated all night during cookery class! I shared my experience with the other Pimenta pupils in hope they may have time to experience it later. The ‘angel’ feeling lasted quite a long time too if I remember rightly…. πŸ˜‰

In the Pimenta’s Spice Bungalows I found the moonlight through the curtains quite hypnotic. I don’t know how long I laid there watching the gentle fluttering and listening to the soothing cicada sounds outside. Ah, India… it knows a lullaby for dreaming ladies.

After another fun day, its time for Pimenta sleeptime..zzz…zzz

Originally published: Saturday, January 26th, 2013 at 20:15 in Aproned Angel, Living matter, Monologues


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4 Responses to “Lush palms in Kadalikad, Cherai Beach and Kumarakom”

  1. Archie says:

    Great memories! Wish we were all there now!

    • Yeah, I’m still missing you both…! And I miss India, and the sun, and the blue sky, and the pomegranate and pineapple breakfasts at Jacob’s…! Ahhhhhh…… Well I’m writing a mammoth email for lady “A”, which I will get sent out to her pronto. I knew I would have much to say to her so I recommend you get the Chai tea brewing before reading it πŸ˜‰ Also looking forward to receiving the photo of you so I can get whizzy with my pencils! Take care both A & A! x

  2. Jane says:

    Thanks for the lovely reminder of a great few days at Pimenta Spice with Jacob. Have tested the skills I gained several times since I got back. The aubergine vindaloo and pineapple pachadi are particular favourites. Stay well. Bet wishes from ‘enigmatic Jane’ πŸ™‚

    • Coucou Jane! There must be some synchronicity in the air because I have thought of you many times recently! I had wondered if Jacob may have sent you the links to my India articles – they took some time to publish… Anyhow, I am pleased to find you here and will email you directly to find out more about your India trip ‘post Pimenta’ πŸ™‚ I loved your colourful garb in India too; most Europeans are just too starchy for their own good! X


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