KOCHI: Walking into Port Muziris immediately gives you a feel of Kerala and its colours. A one-of- its kind venture by Marriott’s independent boutique brand Tribute Portfolio, this hotel welcomes you with a unique blend of traditional and contemporary styles—from decor to the food served. Its ongoing Sunday brunches feature a variety of dishes from across India, refreshing salads and savouries and lip-smacking flavours from the traditional Malayali kitchen.
Shreya Gopinath, the person-in-charge, takes us to the warm-lit restaurant, Leela’s Kitchen, which is bustling with music, coming from a live two-piece acoustic band seated in a corner. The air is heavy with the fragrance thrusting out of the many pots at the kitchen table. We sit down to sip on a sweet-and-sour passion fruit ice tea that came with soaked dry lemon pieces and a bamboo straw.
“A fish curry made from scratch, with quality ingredients is always better than one made using instant powders. At Port Muziris, we grind our spices, to prepare an authentic mix of spices. This is what makes our food stand out,” says chef de cuisine Siju Krishnan. Hailing from Palakkad, he has an experience of 17 years, handling Travancore, Catholic and Malabar cuisine, all over India.
Chicken and fish satay kicked off this flavour journey for us on a juicy note. Next, came the slow-cooked quail, a speciality dish. Biting in, you can feel the marinated spices in every bite. The highlight of the starter section was the red snapper cooked in authentic Thai red curry.
Probably the best and worst part about a buffet is having too many options, especially when they’re all equally good. Having heard lots about their Malayali recipes, I try a plateful of rice accompanied by avial, neymeen thala curry, beef peralan, fried clams and a dish made of dry, deep fried yam called varaval. The thick flavour of pepper hits your palate as you take the first bite of the beef peralan. Then comes the crunch of sliced coconuts. The spicy clams cooked with a mix of Kerala spices go perfectly with the assembly, ensuring that I finish the rice in a jiffy.
We conclude the main course with the Chicken Thalasserey Dum Biryani in a copper pot, spitting aromatic steams. Cooked in coconut oil and ghee, the rich masala and well-cooked meat instantly pulls your focus into taking the next bite. “People praise Malabar biryani. But Thalassery and Kozhikode biryanis are entirely different. Thalassery mix is less spicy, and works more on the flavoured rice and meat. No sunflower or vegetable oil used,” he says, as we dig into the pile of biryani on our plates.
For dessert the moist tender coconut soufflé is a must try. Also available on the menu is north Indian lamb curry and a bunch of vegetarian options. The pool is open to those coming in for this versatile lunch, though all we wanted after the flavour burst was to crawl up for an afternoon nap.