FOOD FORMS the focal point of holidays and without the right kind your vacation can cave in. That is the reason why sushi and sashimi became famous the world over, as Japanese tourists started to travel. In true style the hospitality industry rose to the occasion to give the traveller a taste he is comfortable with. A growing trend among the visitors to Kerala has been an influx of domestic tourists.
The latest tour groups to be coming in to Kochi are the Jains who are sticklers about the food they eat, being pure vegetarians and abstaining from many vegetables due to religious taboos. But as usual the group at Maraikulam was enjoying the repast laid down for them. They, relishing every bit of morsel finely prepared by chef Narayankutty, thronged the Jain food counter.
Says the chef, who learnt this varied cooking style from a Gujarati maharaj (Brahmin cook), "The Jain food is made without onions and garlic. Jains are pure vegetarians and some are very staunch in what they eat, mainly those from Rajasthan. They do not eat many root vegetables. Tomato gravy forms the base for most of their curries.
They eat a lot of pulses seasoned with asafoetida and a bit of jaggery and prefer a sweet and spicy flavour to their food. Dal Dhokli, Khichidi Kardhi, pani puri, paav bhaji are their favourites. We have a lot of Jain tourists now and when they know that their kind of food is available easily, they come again or send their friends over. Because food without the use of onions and garlic is not easily available they are choosy about their stay. Here I cater to their food which has been appreciated and so many Jains are heading for our resort."
Originating from the principles of Ahimsa, the Jains do not eat tubers, onions and garlic. Many abstain from cauliflower, aubergines and all kinds of yams which they call, kandh(bulge), moolh(root). Many refrain from eating fermented food and food left overnight.
The guiding principle behind this strict abstinence, is ahimsa and that no harm should come to other living things, maybe just a maggot in the vegetable. A variation in the popular vegetarian diet that is gaining ground all over the world, and perhaps, Jain food may turn into a fad among the health conscious.
But the point is that we have it here, now in out hotels and resorts, for those who desire it. A great feeling of care and welcome
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