Travelling through South India

A farm stay to remember in Pollachi

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A kitchen garden planted in neat rows with vegetables and ripe red tomatoes, a cheerful yellow building with a wooden oonjal in the verandah, and peacocks calling to each other… Harshini D has created an oasis of calm at her recently-launched Kinara Farm Stay, close to the Uthukuli region. “This was my grandfather’s weekend home. We currently have two operational rooms, with more in the pipeline,” she says.

The trained Le Cordon Bleu pastry chef comes from a family with a strong background in hospitality — her great grandfather founded Coimbatore’s first boutique hotel, Alankar Grande, back in 1965. More recently, her mother, Lakshmi Priya, started the Kovai Alankar Vilas restaurant in Chennai. “I have always had a love for our traditional Kongu food,” says Harshini, serving us a radish chutney made with the harvest from the plot out front. Like most chefs today, the farm-to-fork connect ranks high on her priorities.

So at Kinara, the focus is on creating memories based around culinary experiences. During our two-day stay, the pleasant host plies us with millet and corn dosas, chicken stews, and a soya mince that would fool any hardcore carnivore. Not to mention the endless cups of black tea, provided on request by her ever-smiling staff, who have been with the family for many years. The kitchen is open for guests to take part in the daily cooking.

This is the highlight of the stay: that Harshini is on call to talk with; tell us places to visit nearby; curate a menu and make sure we eat that extra aapam that will ensure the need for a nap right after breakfast. We highly recommend taking a walking tour of the farm with her little daughter, Aradhana. She takes us down to the river (where she tut-tuts at the plastic waste floating by), chatting merrily about her cow Meera. She insists we sit on a swing of banyan vines tied for her to play. We also carry back some coconuts to the house.

Back at the farm stay, Harshini has plans to conduct workshops, where she hopes to bring in her French patisserie expertise (ask for her signature crème brûlée) and pair it with regional cuisine. “I’d like to have chefs visit, to learn here, and also teach their cuisines at Kinara,” she says, adding that they are in the process of creating spaces for barbecues, kids parties and family get-togethers. A huge fig tree in the backyard is laden with ruby-red fruit that attracts many birds in the vicinity. “Shortly, this will be a place where guests can have breakfast, or settle down with a book,” she concludes.

At ₹6,000 for two per night, inclusive of three meals, excluding taxes. 9047729686 / 04259254111

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