We had never heard of Poovar before going to Kerala, but were so lucky to find out about it once we got there! A little known destination, just outside of Trivandrum, Poovar is a small coastal village. It is also an enchanting backwaters paradise of mangrove forests, narrow canals, rare birds and pristine beaches.
We rented a shikkara (a small covered boat) for a few hours and drifted lazily along the backwaters, through canals so narrow that our boat could just about pass through. The breathtaking scenery, peace and serenity and lush greenery made us want to go on drifting forever!
Every now and then we would spot a rare bird, flitting through the trees or sitting on a low branch, obligingly posing for photographs. Once we even passed a vendor selling fresh green coconuts off his boat. We stopped alongside and drank refreshing coconut water, scooping out the delicious tender flesh with makeshift spoons of coconut husk. It was one of the most relaxing, idyllic days of our trip!
The narrow canals of the backwaters open out onto the Neyyar river. We came across a gorgeous, sandy beach, right where the backwaters meet the river. This lovely beach was surprisingly empty, save for a few vendors offering trinkets and strangely enough, horse rides!
Many of the island's resorts front this beautiful vista, some with individual cottages that float on the water and are connected with wooden bridges or ramps.
Right on the beach is also an 'Elephant rock' with a Cross on it and a floating church with a huge statue. There is even a floating restaurant, should you become hungry while on your boat travels!
Pineapples grow abundantly in this region and we were there at the height of the season. Pineapple made an appearance at every meal, served either as fresh fruit, or made into desserts or preserves. In my recipe here, I have combined pineapple with Seville oranges, saffron and cardamom to create a delicious, unusual marmalade.
Not only does this marmalade tastes great on toast for breakfast, it can also be used as a glaze for ham or thinned out with vinegar for salad dressings or marinades. You can even serve it with crackers and cheese or as a delicious topping for vanilla ice cream!
Pineapple Orange Marmalade With Cardamom And Saffron
Seville oranges usually show up in grocery stores in North America around late January. They have a sour, slightly bitter flavour and are great for making all kinds of marmalade. You can also buy a ready to eat, peeled, cored pineapple from the grocery store.
Here's another delicious, easy and unusual jam recipe to try out - Spicy Tomato Jam.
1 each: Seville orange, lemon, peeled and cored pineapple
3 cups each: water, sugar
1/2 inch piece vanilla bean
10 whole green cardamom
1/4 tsp saffron strands
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
Trim ends off orange and lemon. Cut fruit into half crosswise and then cut each piece into very thin half rings, discarding seeds as you find them. Finely chop up the pineapple.
Combine all the fruit along with their juices in a large heavy sauce pan. Add water and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn off the heat, mix in all remaining ingredients, except ground cardamom. Cover sauce pan and let it sit overnight for flavours and pectin to develop.
Uncover pan, bring back to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 2 hours or until fruit is tender and mixture thickens, stirring occasionally.
Increase heat to medium and cook for another 30-45 min or until mixture is very thick and jammy. If you like a runnier marmalade, take it off the heat when the desired consistency has been achieved. Cool for 1/2 hour, then mix in the ground cardamom. Leave whole spices in marmalade, they will continue to add flavour over time. If marmalade is too chunky, blitz it lightly with a hand blender, after removing whole spices and vanilla bean (you can add them back later).
Transfer warm marmalade to sterilized jars, seal and store in a cool, dry place.
Makes about 4 cups