Kerala is the land of exotic spices, so do not be surprised by the spicy curries and dishes of this state. Kerala cuisine is a blend of both vegetarian and non vegetarian dishes but spiciness and taste assuring that it lingers long in your mind. Along with the spicy curries and biriyanis there are desserts like payasam, halwa of different varieties. What more to say? There is even a street in Kozhikode district named ‘Mittayi theruvu’, meaning Sweet Street with hundreds of shops selling all kinds of sweets including the famous Kozhikode halwa in various flavours and textures.
Breakfast is grand in Kerala cuisine; there are dishes like appam, idiyappam, dosa, puttu, pathiri and many more for breakfast that goes along with any vegetarian and non vegetarian curries. Tea is important for malayalees they take a cup of tea two times a day at morning and evening. Major staple food of Keralites is rice; a bed of rice is what they have for lunch or dinner any curries, side dishes and fries are accompanied with it.
Main component of all savory dishes would be coconut which is added as grated, chopped, grinded and as coconut milk, this is of no wonder from the rich wealth of coconut trees in Kerala. Another special mention is the curry leaves, goes into all the major dishes the scent of these leaves will give that Kerala touch to any dishes. Turmeric, Tamarind, Cumins, Fenugreek are all the exotic ingredients added in the Kerala dishes giving it the punch of spiciness to form balanced curries.
In Kerala, not all the restaurants might have attractive interiors and lighting but ask around the locals to choose a place where they serve tasty food and give it a try. The dishes are mainly served on banana leaf usually should be ate using hands, just go with it and trust the age old cuisine for nothing will go wrong.
When you are in Kerala, do not miss this rich, spicy cuisine which will sing to you the story of culture of this state.
The king of all the kerala dishes specially made for Onam and other celebrations the sadhya is a multi course meal that includes many vegetarian curries to be eaten with rice and the final dessert course will be payasam. The multi courses aims to balance sweet, sour, spicy and tangy dishes to celebrate the multi taste buds of the palate. When you are visiting Kerala, try at least once a sadhya to know the essence of Kerala.
2. PUTTU – KADALA CURRY
Puttu is a popular breakfast dish in all the parts of Kerala which is steamed rice flour mixed with water and salt in a cylinder like steam pot. Puttu goes with any curries or just banana and grated coconut but the best side dish is the kadala curry (black chickpeas curry), a spicy coconut gravy and boiled chickpeas are the ingredients. This will make your belly full and the high protein content will not make you hungry until noon which is why the Keralites only have heavy breakfast so to avoid snacks in between breakfast and lunch.
3. APPAM – STEW
Appam is like a pancake made with a rice batter made in a special appachatty, the round shallow dish that is used to make hot round appams. The middle potion is soft and spongy while the sides will be crispy, the appam can be teamed up with any curries but the best is hot stew vegetarian or non vegetarian. Kerala stew have no chilli powder instead peppers and green chillies are used in abundance to give the heat. Potatoes, onions, ginger garlic are the other inevitable ingredients along with coconut milk and chopped chicken, mutton, beef or vegetables. Appam and stew should not be missed for appam is a delicacy only found in the South of India here in Kerala.
4. IDIYAPPAM – EGG CURRY
Idiyappam or noolappam is also a dish made out from rice dough, thin strands of rice dough will be mad from seva and then cooked in steam to get idiyappam. Soft idiyappam with hot egg curry is a great way to start the day in Kerala, since the idiyappams are steam cooked they are so light and fluffy. Try to learn to make idiyappams in Kerala and buy a seva for yourself then make this simple dish at your home.
5. DOSA – SAMBAR
Dosa is a famous South Indian dish and try them while you are in Kerala with hot sambar which is a vegetable curry made in a spicy sour curry including lentils. Different vegetables, shallots, lentils and various spices like cumin, turmeric powder, chilli, coriander, with tamarind paste goes in to the preparation of sambar. Curries using ingredients less than 5 does not even exist in Kerala, everything is flavourful and created with step by step procedures.
6. MALABAR BIRIYANI
The soul food of malayalees, a plate of biriyani is enough to make a person happy here in Kerala. Made with many spices, meat and basmati rice Malabar biriyani stands out on its own from the other biriyanis. The preparation needs a long time but the wait is worth the final product of aromatic rice and meat accompanied with a boiled egg, yogurt salsa and pickle. There need not be any curries to eat this biriyani, find a tasty biriyani spot while you visit Kerala and have it to enjoy the pleasue of multi levels of flavourful soul food.
7. NAADAN KOZHI VARUTHATHU / SPICY CHICKEN FRY
Naadan Kozhi Varuthathu is Spicy Chicken fried in a bunch of spices, by marinating and frying the pieces in hot coconut oil to a brown colour. Chicken lovers have to try this dish, the crispy skin and soft flavourful meet is heavenly let alone the aroma of the fry will make you fall in love with this Kerala special Chicken Fry.
8. KERALA BEEF FRY – MALABAR PAROTTA
Kerala Beef Fry is a spicy delicacy made by beef stir fried with pepper, onions, ginger-garlic and garam masala in coconut oil to make this yummy beef fry. The dish is generously coated with curry leaves, adding a great contrast to the dark hue of the dish. The beef fry goes well with Malabar Parotta a kind of parotta made with flour and oil which is soft but heavy on calories. The combination taste of these two will make you forget about calories and to just dive in to the pleasure of beef fry with parotta.
9. PRAWN THEEYAL
There are a variety of prawns available in Kerala, the large ones are usually roasted and the small ones are made in to‘Chemmen theeyal’ fried coconut gravy with prawns. The dish can be served along with rice or breakfast dishes like appam, idiyappam.
10. NAADAN KOZHI CURRY (KERALA CHICKEN CURRY)
This is not a usual another kind of chicken curry, Kerala Chicken curry is flavourful spicy and sort of creamy from the coconut milk added to it. The spicy curry goes with breakfast foods, rice or parotas the chicken curry is made in almost every non vegetarian home, the Christian community makes non vegetarian special like the Kerala Chicken Curry on all Sundays. Savour the hot spicy flavourful Kerala Chicken Curry the next time you visit Kerala for holidays.
- Read : Why We Love Kerala
11. CASSAVA – KERALA FISH CURRY
Cassava or commonly called as ‘Kappa’ here in Kerala is a ground crop which when boiled in water turns in to a soft smooth textured dish which is combined with Fish Curry of Kerala. Kappa and Fish curry is a combination like bread and butter for Keralites, rich fish wealth of Kerala makes them a pioneer in acing the perfect spicy red fish curry made with tamarind sauce and coconut milk or paste.
Seafood like mussels, crab, prawns, oysters, sardines, mackerel and tuna are abundant in Kerala coast and these are transformed to make tasty curries to be accompanied with Kappa. Even though seafood is the first choice, Kappa can be teamed up with chicken, beef or mutton dishes. Try Kappa and fish curry from a toddy shop with some sweet toddy to know why this is one of the best combinations for lunch in Kerala.
12. KALLUMMAKKAYA ULARTHIYATH / MUSSEL STIR FRY
Mussels which are properly cleaned are cooked with shallots, garlic, chillies, turmeric, garam masala and grated coconut to make the famous Mussel Stir Fry of Kerala. The dish is best with boiled kappa or cassava and with rice along with hot curries and vegetables. This is a delicacy found majorly in the coastal lines depending on the availability of mussels.
13. THATTU DOSA – OMLET – CHUTNEY
The people of Kerala usually cook their food to eat in their own kitchens but in some later years the street food of Kerala is becoming very popular among families. The roadside convertible small shops known as ‘thattukada’ commonly sell delicious dosa with chutney and omlet. These have become a part of every malayalee’s evenings; the food is delicious but cheap only 25 rupees or so for one person to eat lavishly from these small shops.
The ultimate dessert of Kerala, three different payasams are usually served at the end of sadhya. Paal (milk) Payasam, Ada (Rice batter) Pradhaman and Kadala (lentil) Payasam. The payasams are very sweet and milky in texture, cardamom is the only spice added in payasam along with ghee, raisins and cashews. The Ada Pradhaman has coconut pieces chopped and added into it for a different flavour.
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