The land of exotic spices. Ginger, pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, chillies, turmeric, coriander and cumin seeds lend a unique flavour and aroma to Kerala food. Not to forget, the omnipresent coconut, curry leaves and tamarind.
Let’s look at some of the much-loved Kerala dishes that have admirers across the globe!
The Sadya experience
What’s the famous food of Kerala? The best way to find out is to indulge in a sadya – the traditional feast of Kerala served on a banana leaf. Typically a vegetarian fare, it includes an amazing variety of curries, side dishes, savouries, pickles and desserts.
Sadya – The Traditional Kerala Feast
Usually, the spread features parboiled rice, served along with sambar and parippu (dal). Side dishes include delicious Avial (blend of vegetables, coconut paste and green chilies), Thoran (vegetables mixed with grated coconut, a dash of red chilies and turmeric powder), Kalan (vegetables cooked with yogurt and coconut), and Kootu curry (black chickpeas blended with vegetables like yam and raw plantain), among a dozen other Kerala foods.
And then, there are savouries like Upperi (banana chips), Sharkara Upperi (jaggery coated banana chips), Pappadam (deep-fried papad), Puli Inji(ginger, tamarind, jaggery sauce), complete with an assortment of pickles. If you are too full for dessert, have some Rasam-rice to aid digestion.
For, dessert is lip-smacking Payasam. From the popular Ada Payasam (made of beaten rice flakes) and Semiya Payasam(made of vermicelli) to the striking Parippu Payasam (made of lentils) and Gothambu Payasam (made of wheat grain), there is no better way to end a sumptuous Kerala meal.
The non-vegetarian fare
South Kerala is renowned for its delectable seafood – mussels, crab, prawns, oysters, sardines, mackerel, tuna, and lobsters – while the northern parts have enticing dishes made of mutton, chicken, beef and pork on its food menu.
When you speak of Kerala food items, it’s impossible to miss out on the famous Kerala porotta (layered flatbread made from maida) that originated from Malabar. It’s the perfect accompaniment for any fiery non-vegetarian curry. These Kerala recipes usually include roasted coconut and lots of spices.
Sea-food lovers must try Kappa (tapioca), typically, paired with Kerala fish curry.
Kappa (Tapoica) is usually served with Fish Curry
There’s also the Karimeen pollichadhu(famous in the backwaters) and ‘Fish Moily’ (Pearl spot fish found throughout coastal Kerala).
Karimeen Pollichathu is a must try Kerala Speciality
Traditionally, the fish curry is made in clay pots with kudiampuli(fish tamarind), lending it a distinct taste. In Thalassery, Kallummakaya is the speciality – have it roasted, fried, or even with biryani! The tastiest biryani, though, is believed to be the Malabar biriyani.
Kudiampuli is a=one way of making fish curry
The Malayali breakfast
The most in-demand Kerala recipes are for the breakfast items. Many travellers are pleasantly surprised to find that there’s a lot more to the first meal of the day than soft Idlis and crisp Dosas!
Idlis and Dosas are an obvious to do in Kerala
How about some Puttu (rice cake steamed in long hollow cylinders) with hot KadalaCurry(black chickpea curry)? For those who prefer it sweet, Puttu can also be paired with steamed bananas.
Another favourite food of Kerala is the Idiyappam(or Noolappam). They are simply noodles made of rice flour, salt and water; taste delicious with vegetable curry or egg curry.
The Appams in Kerala are to die for! Soft pancakes made from toddy fermented rice batter, with a spongy middle and crispy edges, Appams are best enjoyed with eggs, chicken or mutton stew. Vegetarians can opt for Kadala Curry.
Appams are like soft pancakes
You’ll regret saying ‘no’ to PazhamPori ( a snack made of ripe banana and wheat flour).
Whether or not you are tempted to try the kallu(palm toddy)at the many roadside shops, you must give in to the charm of Kerala food.