Spice Village Review + Chef’s Signature Recipe
Amidst the beauty of Thekkady’s spice plantations and it’s very popular Periyar Wildlife Reserve lies the Spice Village. The city life and the bustling towns feel miles away as you lie in nature’s enchantment here. The Spice Village easily takes you back ages ago when technology was absent from the face of the earth. This eco-resort makes you live tribal style while also providing you comfort. This sprawling 12 acres of land came to life back in 1991.
Set in the cool highlands of Periyar, Thekkady in Kerala away from the hot plains, the Spice Village is all about connecting back with nature. The wildlife species around along with the alluring Periyar lake is already an experience you cannot wish to miss! This retreat celebrates the beauty of mother nature and the spice plantations at Thekkady. The resort is exactly what its name signifies. It is built like a village around the spice plantations – using the art of nature and the local community. However, luxury is redefined with the provision of world-class amenities in a place so shut off from city life.
At the first glance, the Spice Village Resort feels like you have been dropped at a village in the mountains. The entry and the surroundings along with the sounds of the flora and fauna around welcome you in. The place looks very simple and humble as you take it all in. However, once you begin to explore the huge property, you will realise how well-equipped it really is. You immediately feel the calmness and peace that the place has to offer. The eco-resort’s green and clean welcome will quickly make you forget all your troubles back home. Hustle and bustle are replaced here by the state of serenity.
The Spice Village is actually a part of the CGH Earth Hotel chain. This family-run hotel chain began as a flagship project back in 1954. They delved into the aspect of a unique experiment in terms of responsible tourism. An aspect many others must be following today. Today, the hotel chain has only become bigger with numerous other hotels and resorts under its name. The management aims at bringing sustainability closer to tourism. It also aims at providing tourists with the true essence of living somewhere. They don’t aim at creating hotels but experiences. They aim at providing experiences rooted in nature and local cultures because true luxury is finding comfort in simplicity. Special thanks to Mr Harikrishnan R. Nair, General Manager, Spice Village for making our stay so incredible!
The peaceful Spice Village is located in the scenic hills of Thekkady, Kerala. It is very close to the popular Periyar Tiger Reserve. This cluster of huts is close to a plantation town called Kumily. Kumily is also a gateway town from Tamil Nadu to Kerala. The nearest location to travel here from are:
- Nearest Town: Kottayam
- Railway Station: Kottayam
- Airport: Cochin International Airport
You can easily reach Spice Village through various ways of transport. Kochi is of course the closest airport which is only a four-hour drive away from the resort. It is about 145 km away from Madurai Airport and 190 km from Cochin International. The Kottayam Railway station is around 107 km away. Kodai Road is another 123 km away. You can always book a taxi from these places to directly reach Spice Village. The Kumily bus stand is about 1.5 km away from the resort and connects well to the important cities of Kerala.
Style and Character
The Spice Village is a great fusion of elegance and sustainability. Who said that comfort can also be a modern concept? The Spice Village breaks that fabricated belief with its simple rustic interiors made out of local woodcraft and natural materials. The place imbibes the complete look and feel of a village. The huts are designed and crafted in a way that is packed with elegance. You will be pleased looking at the use of upcycled furniture and upcycled notepads in rooms.
The Village derives its style inspiration from the local Mannan tribe. In fact, the thatched roofs are made by locals using elephant grass. You won’t find their stone floors covered with fancy furry carpets. However, coir mats beautifully complement the wooden work. Surrounded by greenery, living in their cottages is an experience worth living in once in your lifetime!
With an average temperature of 21-degree celsius throughout the year, this beautiful village in Thekkady doesn’t require artificial air conditioning. In addition, the majority of the Resort’s energy source is solar energy! Your stay here will be a refreshing mix of living in tranquillity amidst all the gorgeous elements of mother nature.
The Spice Village is not only a place to appreciate nature. The place has a lot more to offer. They aim at making your experience an enriching one. The resort has many facilities and amenities at your disposal to make use of. Here are some of them:
- Wifi: The Spice Village resort is completely wifi enabled. Wifi service is complimentary and available in every cottage at Spice Village. You need not worry about network issues and work calls. You can still continue your life normally. However, turning off your wifi is one of the best ways to rejuvenate yourself. You will experience the true essence of living the village life by doing so.
- Ayurveda Centre: Like almost any hotel part of the CGH earth Hotel chain, they also have an Ayurveda centre to unwind and get rid of all the stress. They offer different types of herbal massages and therapies you can opt for. They help your body feel much more energised and calm than before.
- The Tiger Club: The Spice Village has naturalists available. They can help you gain a lot of knowledge about the area and its history. Tiger club is a great place for a wildlife lover. The place offers a deep insight into the flora and fauna around the Periyar region.
- Pool: Their clean and fresh swimming pool is located amid all the greenery. So, take some time out and hit back at all that stress with some time inside the water.
- Gift shop: If you wish to carry back a bunch of lovely souvenirs for your loved ones from Kerala, do visit their gift shop. You will find a lot of items that showcase the local craft and culture.
- Games: You can play several outdoor sports in the vast expanse of green land available. There are different courts around too: badminton, basketball and tennis. Indoor games include snooker and a variety of card and board games.
As already mentioned, the style of the place is heavily influenced by the local Manan tribes. They have about 52 cottages in total. Therefore, their rooms are also reimagined similarly. They offer two types of rooms:
- Deluxe Cottage with private garden: These suites have a separate living room. They have a beautiful looking four poster bed in the spacious bedroom. These cottages also have a large porch along with a private garden in front of the cottage. These gardens come up with a seating space too. The bathroom in this cottage has a bathtub as well. This type of cottage is the least available at the Resort. They are only five like them.
- The Spice Garden Cottage: These cottages have a small living area along with a very big bedroom area. The cottage also comes with an attached bathroom. They also have a small porch area.
These cottages are not air-conditioned. However, the elephant grass thatching of the room helps regulate the temperature inside the room. These roofs are actually redone every five years by local tribes. The pine wood furniture in the room is completely upcycled from crates. The rooms have terracotta tiles and the doors also have a very old-fashioned way of locking. They believe in causing less footprint. Therefore, everything is locally sourced.
Other room amenities
They have the traditional check-in and check-out times. Check-in is at 2 pm and check-out is at 11 am. The rooms have wifi service available along with a tea and coffee maker. They also provide you with a locker facility. Laundry service and 24-hour room service is also available. You can also request an electric iron if needed.
The bathroom is well equipped with all essential toiletries. You get bathrobes, hairdryers as well as shaving and dental kits. The toiletries provided are also not your modern factory-manufactured kind. They are all made using natural sources and wrapped in recycled paper. Plastic is completely out of question. They also provide you with an interesting body scrubber made with natural material.
Things to do
The location of the spice Village makes it an exquisite place to explore more. It is located very close to Periyar lake as well as the wildlife sanctuary. Apart from this, the Resort by itself has plenty of experiences to offer travellers.
- Treks: They offer both day and night treks with people who actually live there and know the place. These are your trek guides who take you through the Periyar Tiger Reserve. There are different trek options available.
- Papermaking: Have you ever noticed paper being made? You can actually get hands-on experience at Spice Village. They use discarded paper and other organic waste to make reusable paper. Therefore, their paper-making centre is responsible for all the menu cards, notepads and luggage tags available at the resort.
- Spice Plantations: The spice plantations around the village are a breathtaking experience. You can try your hand at plucking spices. In addition, the aroma and smell of the spices in the air can actually be felt.
- Nature walks: Walking any stretch of land across their sprawling property is like gaining knowledge. The naturalists working there have so much insight to offer. You will gain a lot of understanding of flora and fauna. Wildlife lovers will in fact have a great time staying here.
- Cooking Class: The chefs at Spice Village take evening cooking classes. They let you in on some traditional Kerala cuisine secrets. You will also gain a lot of knowledge about Indian spices and flavours.
Therefore, apart from lying on your bed in the cosy cottage room amidst the chirping of the birds, you can also gain a lot from your visit. You will definitely have a lot of experiences to take back home.
Imagine living in cottages surrounded by organic gardens and spice plantations. One can actually imagine the freshness of the produce and the richness of the taste in all food items. Everything cooked at the restaurants comes from within a 50-mile radius of the resort only. A low carbon footprint as well as great taste sounds just about right. There are three places where you can eat at the Spice Village Resort:
- The Woodhouse lounge: This lounge bar is named after a forest ranger. This was his abode when he was a forest ranger at the reserve. This place has a pool table along with a billiards trainer.
- The 50-mile diet: This is a great restaurant that serves gourmet dishes made using local produce. This restaurant usually operates only during the high season.
- Tamarind Restaurant: This restaurant is the best choice if you wish to get a taste of the local cuisine. Dishes are made using exotic spices and all items on the menu are selected by the chefs themselves. This restaurant is a 130-seater. They serve a buffet and also have continental options. They have an interesting blackboard in the restaurant that updates about the harvested produce. There is also live music played at night. The restaurant truly believes in conscious eating. They not only source their ingredients consciously but also use the right ones. They try to make use of multigrain bread and also make the constant effort of using jaggery as a sweetener. These conscious choices speak a lot about the quality that the resort aims to provide.
About Chef Praveen K
Sous Chef Praveen K has a total experience of 17 years. He has spent the last 14 years with CGH Earth and enjoys cooking regional favourites and South Indian cuisine.
High Range Vegetable Curry Recipe
This simple vegetable curry is a delightful blend of spices, herbs and mixed vegetables. This authentic Keralan dish is easy to make and tastes wonderful. Serve it with naan, roti or rice.
Serves: 4 Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 15 minutes Total time: 25 minutes Cuisine: Authentic Keralan Cuisine/Indian Course: Main Course
1 tbsp coconut oil, ½ tsp mustard seeds, 2 red chillies, 2 green chillies (slit lengthwise), 200 g mixed vegetables (cut into small cubes), 1” piece of ginger (chopped), 5-6 cloves of garlic (chopped), 100 g onion (chopped), 8-10 curry leaves, 100 g tomato (chopped), 5 g garam masala, ¼ tsp turmeric powder, ½ cup of coconut milk and a pinch of salt.
To make the paste:
50 g grated coconut, 25 g cumin seeds, 15 g shallots (chopped), 5 g curry leaves, 5 g fennel seeds
4 tsp coconut oil, ½ tsp mustard seeds, ½ onion (sliced), 4-5 Kashmiri red chillies, 8-10 curry leaves
Heat oil in a pan. Crackle the mustard seeds. Add and saute the ginger, garlic, curry leaves and green chillies. When it becomes light brown, then add onion and saute for a few minutes or until the onion turns soft. Add green chillies and curry leaves and continue to cook for 3-5 minutes. Add turmeric and coriander powder, garam masala and chopped tomatoes. Stir in the paste of coconut with a little water. Add the coconut milk and cook. Then, add the vegetables and continue to cook on a slow flame. Add salt and stir for a few minutes until everything is well combined. To temper, heat oil in a small pan. Add mustard seeds and let them crackle. Next, add the curry leaves, and whole red chillies and saute for 30 seconds before adding on top of the curry. Serve with steaming hot rice or bread of your choice!
High Range Vegetable Curry Recipe
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- ½ tsp mustard seeds
- 2 red chillies
- 2 green chillies slit lengthwise
- 200 g mixed vegetables cut into small cubes
- 1" piece of ginger chopped
- 5-6 cloves of garlic chopped
- 100 g onion chopped
- 8-10 curry leaves
- 100 g tomato chopped
- 5 g garam masala
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ cup of coconut milk
- a pinch of salt
To make the paste:
- 50 g coconut grated
- 25 g cumin seeds
- 15 g shallots chopped
- 5 g curry leaves
- 5 g fennel seeds
- 4 tsp coconut oil
- ½ tsp mustard seeds
- ½ onion sliced
- 4-5 Kashmiri red chillies
- 8-10 curry leaves
- Heat oil in a pan. Crackle the mustard seeds. Add and saute the ginger, garlic, curry leaves and green chillies. When it becomes light brown, then add onion and saute for a few minutes or until the onion turns soft. Add green chillies and curry leaves and continue to cook for 3-5 minutes.
- Add turmeric and coriander powder, garam masala and chopped tomatoes.
- Stir in the paste of coconut with a little water.
- Add the coconut milk and cook. Then, add the vegetables and continue to cook on a slow flame. Add salt and stir for a few minutes until everything is well combined.
- Heat oil in a small pan. Add mustard seeds and let them crackle. Next, add the curry leaves, and whole red chillies and saute for 30 seconds before adding on top of the curry. Serve with steaming hot rice or bread of your choice!
View this post on Instagram
All in all, the Spice Village Resort is a must-visit if you wish to spend a peaceful time with your family in Kerala. It makes you appreciate the beauty of nature along with the importance of making conscious choices. These resorts and such cottages improve the experience of your travel tenfold and that’s the beauty of it!
Shristi is an avid reader, recipe developer and wellness enthusiast. She’s probably making a mess in her kitchen right now.