VIVANTA BY TAJ – KOVALAM

…… and Prawn Mango Curry

(Part 2 of 3)

We arrived in Kovalam early afternoon, having stopped for lunch en route down south.

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Turning right into the approach road to our hotel for the next few days was like driving through a colourful picture postcard. Just in front of the hotel entrance are a few large trees showing off their seasonal blossoms in all their glory. The road was thickly littered with fallen petals (just like at one of our many wedding functions here) in bright red and orangey yellow. In order not to spoil the magic I just concentrated to photograph the crowns of the trees, because for once I did not want evidence of everyday life turning up in my shots.

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Slowly we went through the strict security control into the property and uphill towards the actual hotel entrance where we were greeted with huge smiles, a cheerful “Namaskaram” (Welcome) and a pretty necklace made entirely out of tiny local seashells. As much as I like fresh flowers, they sadly do not last long in this tropical heat – but those sweet necklaces do!!!!

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A fluffy hot towel to refresh our faces and a cooling tender coconut drink arrived. Check-in was completed in no time

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and soon we were driven in a golf-buggy uphill to our room, where our luggage was already waiting for us.

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A short refreshing nap, shower and a change of clothes put us in the right mood to enjoy the view of the Ocean from our little terrace – and savour a decent cup of coffee.

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A short time later we were joined by Mathew Thomas, GM of our hotel and also a close friend of Jo’s from Cochin.

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We all travel quite a lot and so there was much catching-up to do.

We of course had been over the past years many times to this hotel but then had stayed away  for some time, since we felt something was very much missing from this particular TAJ property.

But now it became very quickly clear to us that many things had changed for the better since Mathew had taken charge at the helm – once again, like previously before in the TAJ properties he had managed, he in only a short time had put his very own personal stamp onto this Kovalam property. For one the staff looked so much happier than before which proved to us, that his motto “…COME on, and not GET on” worked wonders here.

–         For more details on this property and bookings please refer to the following link: http://www.vivantabytaj.com/Kovalam-Kerala/Overview.html

This wonderful secluded property is build on a 10 acre hillside, but comfortable

Golf buggies take you more or less straight to your own front door.

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The swimming pool is so inviting and offers a much needed respite from the tropical heat and the staff is always there to attend to your slightest whim.

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And for you, who would not want to miss out on their daily exercise find a more than adequate gym within the complex.

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After a quiet dinner “a deux” and watching a beautiful floorshow by local dancers,

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we were ready once again to be driven back to our suite, where we sat on our little terrace

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enjoying our drink and watch the many fishing boats far out at sea, their lights blinking – like giant fireflies so far out there. It truly was a most romantic sight, the flickering lights out at sea in competition with the flickering stars up in the sky. Not a sound to be heard apart from the occasional bird in some tree nearby. This poses the question; do birds talk in their sleep? (Joke!)

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The breakfast buffet laid out in the semi open poolside restaurant “Jasmine Bay” is quite extensive and offers a wide choice of delicious Kerala and European fare.

We spent the morning down at Kovalam Beach (see my previous Blog entry) and taken lots of pictures to share with you.

For Lunch we were back at our Hotel, in our “Deluxe Allure Suite” for a brief rest and a cold drink before meeting Executive Chef Elangovan who, knowing how much we like prawns  “in all shape and sizes” and taking into account that it is the mango season here right now, he had prepared a truly wonderful Prawn dish for our Lunch and of course for you, my friends out there.

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(from left to right: Ankit Tandon, F & B Manager, Executive Chef Elangovan, Chef Vishnu and Basil)

Chef Elango (as he is popularly known) is a truly welcomed addition to VIVANTA  by TAJ Kovalam. He hails originally from the culinary city of Trichy in the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu.  He finished his further education in Malaysia before he returned to India and joined the TAJ Group of Hotels in Chennai before taking up his present position here in Kovalam.  He specializes mainly in his home cuisine – typical dishes from the South, from Kerala.

I briefly joined him and Chef Josephkutty in their kitchen to catch them “stirring the pot”,

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before we sat down and enjoyed his truly delicious Prawn Mango Curry

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PRAWN  MANGO  CURRY

200 g Prawns, peeled and deveined

100 g Mango , raw (green), sliced into medium size pieces

20   g Coconut Oil

10   g Shallots, sliced

2      sprigs of Curry leaves

5      red dried chillies, whole

3      green chillies, each cut into 3 pieces

5      cloves of garlic, sliced

Small piece of fresh ginger, sliced

A pinch or two of salt

1 tsp of red chilly powder (or more, if you like!! J

½ tsp of turmeric powder

5 Tbsp thick coconut milk (can be made from powder)

½ tsp of black Mustard seeds

Heat coconut oil in a wok, crackle mustard seeds, red chilly powder, curry leaves, green sliced chilly, ginger, garlic and sauté well.

Add sliced shallots and cook nicely, then add a pinch of turmeric, salt and the prawns. Add sufficient water and cook gently for a couple of minutes.

Add raw sliced mango pieces and cook this for 2 more minutes until prawns have turned pink and are done. Add thick coconut milk and add the tempering made out of sliced shallots, curry leaves, red whole chillies and a little curry powder.

Check the seasoning and serve hot with garnish of fried curry leaves.

Serve hot with the garnish of tempering, kerala paratha and/or plain rice.

That’s for today my friends – more from me and Chef Elangovan in a couple of days. Hope to see you then.

Carina

(Photos: Carina/JS-Manningtree Archive)

17 thoughts on “VIVANTA BY TAJ – KOVALAM

  1. I stayed at Taj Hotels throughout India and absolutely loved them. Couple of exceptions. Oberoi in Agra, JK Marriott in Mumbai. We were supposed to stay at the Taj but we left for India a week or so after the terrorist attacks and the hotel moved us to the JK Marriott. Definitely a good reason to return, don’t you think?

    • yes, it’s nice, but….. as the saying goes “… the grass is not always greener on the other side!” Given a chance, we would be off within 24 hours to visit France, Europe on the whole – and whilst we are abroad after some time we want to go back home, to Kerala!

  2. Your pictures are forcing me to pack my bag right now and leave..:)

    I love to travel too though this year has not been too great but hopefully things will change in a few months. We are in Chennai for the past 2 years and covered many places in South India.

    Lots of love and happy travelling!

  3. Oh Carina it’s so nice to go through your experiences n your love for Taj..it’s a lovely property of Taj n we have seen it when it was taking a shape…n your love for food n sharing the recipe… with us is really nice…thank you so much..Missing all the moment s we spent together……

    • Anubha – thank you so much for your lovely compliment. TAJ Kovalam really blossomed under our friend Mathew T. We too miss you both, everytime we drive to shop at Ashis we look up at your old building and…. your ears must be ringing a lot. Maybe one day we will come up to Bombay – has been a long time since we were there. Big hug

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