The aroma of Kerala's culinary skills is beckoning to tourists from across the seven seas who are now coming in hordes to get the real taste of God's Own Country.
Popularly known as 'God's own county', the small coastal region of Kerala is known for the spices and mouth-watering delicacies dripping coconut oil.
The households in Kochi are thick with aroma.
The south Indian cuisines like sea food or rice and other cereal dishes are prepared with main emphasis on 'healthy food', using only coconut oil, less sugar, and artificial additives, and more use of natural herbs, spices and raw coconut.
A few foreign tourists tried their hands on grating coconuts and making traditional dishes in a village at Mala near Kochi.
It was a one-day class in the kitchen of Francis Paul Kandankulathy, a village based tour operator, who included culinary skill in their Kerala tour package.
In this package tour, a group of tourists were taught to prepare sumptuous lunch or 'Sadhya' in traditional way from morning till afternoon.
And for Paul's family members and neighbours, it was a different practice helping the tourists in preparing the traditional feast.
'Sadhya' is a traditional vegetarian feast of Kerala. Usually served as lunch, it includes boiled pink rice, side dishes, savories, pickles and desserts spread out on a plantain leaf.
Apart from mixing curries, cutting vegetables and blowing wind to fire in the kitchen, the most interesting part was the grating and de-husking of coconut, which the tourists had never experienced before in their lives.
Among some of the vegetarian dishes cooked by the tourists were Sambhar (made of vegetables and spices), Avial (made of vegetables and coconut sauce),Cucumber Kichadi, Garlic Rasam, Koottu Thoran (steamed or fried vegetables with mustard seed and spices), Pachadi (made of pumpkin, coconut milk and curd with green chilly), Olan (beans and gourds mixed with spices), Parippu Curry, Pappadam and Payasam (made of sugared rice or noodles, served as dessert).
"These are green peas and I have done this thing at home. But I don't know the names of the vegetables. I think these are cabbage, green peas and carrots. We are preparing Sambhar," said Kim, a tourist from Virginia.
Later, they sat down and had their lunch on banana leaves.
Cuisines in Kerala are classified into two categories - vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. While the non-vegetarian dishes are all heavily spiced, the vegetarian is mildly spiced and feels light.
Like most places in India, in Kochi also food is traditionally eaten by hand and served on a banana leaf.
The condiments generally used are turmeric, pepper, ginger, cardamom, cloves, spices, chilli, mustard, onion, and garlic.
Culinary tours to Kerala not only attracts general tourist to this costal destination, but is also becoming popular among foreign tourists.