I first visited Kanyakumari with my parents when I was a little girl. The spectacular sunset we saw from the shores of the southernmost tip of India still stands out in my memory. Situated at the junction of the Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea, Kanyakumari or Cape Comorin as it is sometimes called, is the only place in India where you can see the sun rise as well as set!
A gigantic statue of Thiruvalluvar watches benevolently from a distance as you near Kanyakumari. An eminent poet and philosopher, he is worshiped as a saint and people take the short ferry ride to go out to the rock on which his statue is situated.
People also come to Kanyakumari to visit famous temples that were built here many centuries ago. Suchindram, just outside of Kanyakumari was built around the 8th century and is an important pilgrimage site for Hindus. A beautiful architectural marvel, it has fabulous stone carvings, huge statues of Hindu gods and towering musical carved pillars built from single blocks of granite.
We were captivated by the many colourful houses and buildings that dot the landscape of Kerala. On the drive out to Kanyakumari, we came across bright green, purple and blue houses, and my favorite - hot pink walls! They livened up the countryside and our photographs!
The countryside is also very scenic with mountains in the distance, burbling streams, coconut groves, paddy fields and lush greenery.
Stopping by the side of the road to drink fresh coconut water out of a tender green coconut, then scooping out the sweet coconut flesh and savouring it while admiring the view makes the trip even more enjoyable!
Restaurants in Kanyakumari range from offering regional South Indian vegetarian cuisine, to locally sourced fresh seafood, cooked into curries. Some of these restaurants are situated right by the water front, offering great views along with tasty food.
We never tired of eating many varieties of fresh, delicious seafood in Kerala but our favourite was this spicy shrimp curry with a thick, rich sauce clinging to the shrimp. Wrapped up in a morsel of warm naan or Kerala parotta (pan fried flaky flatbread), it made a fantastic lunch.
Start your meal with Spicy Tomato Rasam - a wonderful soup to whet your appetite, then follow up with this delicious shrimp curry!
Tomato Shrimp Masala
2 cloves garlic
1/2 inch piece ginger
1 green chili
2 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
20 fresh curry leaves
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 large, ripe juicy tomatoes, chopped
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp each: cayenne pepper, turmeric, ground coriander, ground cumin, garam masala OR 2 tsp Malabar masala powder
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tbsp each: chopped fresh coriander leaves, lemon juice
Mince garlic, ginger and green chili together in food processor.
Warm oil in deep non stick skillet over medium heat. Add mustard seeds and curry leaves. Fry them for about 30 sec, then add minced garlic mixture.
Saute for 1 min, then add onions. Saute until lightly browned and softened, about 8 min.
Add tomatoes, salt and all the spices or Malabar masala powder. Cook for 5 min until tomatoes break down and are well blended into the sauce.
Add shrimp, cook for about 5-7 min until shrimp turn pink and are no longer raw.
Fold in fresh coriander and lemon juice.
Serve right away.