Brunton Boatyard Cochin
Brunton Boatyard, circa 1895 – Geo Brunton and Sons was once among the most respected ship builders in Kochi. The location of their old boatyard was perfect, on a quiet harbour-front deep in the heart of Fort Cochin, where every by-lane could whisper tales from the city’s colourful past. Here, we set about recreating the world of 19th century Malabar, using the precise building materials of the time – brick, lime, wood and terracotta.
Moored on a historic stretch of Cochin’s famed harbour, the Brunton Boatyard Hotel is our tribute to another age. Resurrected from the remains of a Victorian shipbuilding yard, it gives the modern traveller a unique opportunity to dwell amidst the shadow-plays of 19th century history.
The recreated period building blends in perfectly with its colonial era surroundings: once-great trading houses from the high era of commerce, when the pepper of Kerala was as precious as gold. Like the cultures they celebrate, the hotel’s interiors too, are an eclectic blend of English, Portuguese and Dutch influences.Soaring ceilings, hanging fans, and everywhere, artifacts and curios from the great age of steam and sail.
Like everything else, the cuisine too is a melting pot of cultures. The Portuguese came to trade in spice, but left behind the ‘Indian’ red chili. The Syrian Christians cooked up a variety of Pork dishes that co-incidentally, tasted fabulous with the local string hoppers. The Jews found coriander both Kosher and delicious, so into the cook pot it went. And Dutch puddings were found to benefit greatly from a smidgen of fresh cinnamon.
All of the Brunton Boatyard Hotel’s twenty-two rooms overlook the sea, and so, by happy circumstance, do the en-suite bathrooms. Few pleasures rival a long hot soak in your tub of an evening, watching the dolphins play tag with the trading ships of the globe.
Eating at Brunton Boatyard’s History Restaurant is literally a journey through history. Each dish reflects a different community. And 30 different communities living in Kochi all tell their own special story.
One of their signature dishes, the First Class Railway Mutton Curry is made from a secret recipe. The mutton is cooked in a brass pot for six whole hours. This allows the spices to infuse and makes the mutton both mild and tender.
The story goes that an English army officer, while travelling in a train, found himself ravishingly hungry. He followed his nose to the pantry car where a spicy mutton curry was simmering. He was offered a taste, whence he burnt his tongue because of the spices. The helpful cook reduced the pungency with some coconut milk and served it up. From that day on this became a staple on all First Class Compartments of the train.