The gods must be huge foodies to call Kerala their own country! Kerala, being located on the southwestern coast of India, has all types of seafood, and the passage of time has only made the cooking more delicious. They also use meats like chicken, mutton and beef liberally in their cuisine. A unique blend of hot and tangy spices has grown here over the years whose mere smell makes one’s mouth (and eyes) water!
The highlight of their cuisine which might make you cringe in the beginning is Coconut– grated coconut, coconut milk basically anything coconut. It is quite difficult to find a dish that doesn’t contain it. But thanks to the amazing culinary skills of the people making coconut blend in so well, very soon, you won’t want to go back to your non-coconut cuisine!And vegetarians worry not!
They have plenty of vegetarian dishes too- especially involving Rice and Tamarind. Though beware, as your vegetarian resolve will be put to a very tough test around here. Right from breakfast foods and snacks to heavy lunch and dinner, Kerala cuisine never disappoints. Here are 5 of my favorites:
1.Puttu and Kadala
Photo by Pranchiyettan, CC BY-SA 2.5 IN
This is a very famous breakfast food. Puttu is basically cylindrical shaped dumplings made of steamed rice. It is cooked with coconut shavings which give it a unique aroma and taste. The steamed rice is very soft and chewy and gives you a sensation of melting in your mouth. Puttu is most commonly eaten with kadala which is a gravy made of black peas. It’s quite spicy but not the spiciest thing you’ll find in Kerala cuisine. If you are an ‘eat-only-sea-food-when-near-the-sea’ person, Puttu is also served fish curry in some places. If you are a brave-heart and a brave-tongue, try Puttu with ripe Bananas and sugar and the sweetness will stay with you all day.
Photo by Shehal Joseph, CC BY 2.0
This Biryani is so tasty that the state needed no more variants! People in Kerala have a special kind of rice meant specifically for this dish- called Khaima or Jeerakasala rice which is much thinner than basmati rice. This gives the biryani a unique texture, which provides a burst of flavors in your mouth. The dish is traditionally made with chicken pieces but vegetarian variants are served in some places. Along with the common raita, there is a special accompaniment to this biryani. It’s chutney made by mixing grated coconut and mint leaves. It’s unique, but certainly delectable.
Photo by thebittenword.com, CC BY 2.0
You will never be short of things to munch on in Kerala- no matter where you are. The place has an obsession with frying whatever they can find. But I have to give it to them, as the results are extremely tasty. The most common fried item in Kerala is banana chips fried in coconut oil that itself tastes amazing. But some people can sprinkle them with a blend of spices which takes it to a whole new level. Kerala is probably the only place which makes jackfruit chips.These are coated with tangy spices and the two flavors blend to create magic. Tapioca is the other staple of Kerala besides rice and is used to make chips as well. Try them with fish curry and you will want to kill yourself for not discovering it earlier.
Photo by Charles Haynes, CC BY-SA 2.0
Malayalees love their rice but recently because of health concerns, dinner has shifted to wheat products. But there’s no need to worry, Kerala has its specialties in that field too. Kerala Parota, as it is famously called is a wheat delicacy. It is really soft and chewy yet crispy on the outside. It is flaky appears to crumble easily. Nevertheless, the Parota is best eaten with the most exotic and spicy curries, leading to a perfectly blended taste. These Parotas can be eaten with any type of curry dish including fish, chicken, mutton, beef or vegetable stews that are all available in abundance in Kerala!
Photo by Manish Chauhan, CC BY 2.0
This is the traditional and beloved dessert. There are several different variants of Payasam depending on the base ingredient used, but all of them are boiled with milk and sweetened with sugar or jaggery. The common ones are rice, dal, wheat and vermicelli. Several kinds have coconut in them and many are flavored with spices. They also make payasam with fruit bases and you should definitely try ‘Chakkapradhamam’ which is made with jackfruit pulp. Payasam is generally served in earthen pots or cups, but in Sadhya, the typical Kerala vegetarian meal, it is served on a flat banana leaf and is an experience worth having!
Kerala is beautiful. But the gastronomic experience takes it to another level. If you are a foodie, this is one place you simply have to visit. And while you’re there, pick up a couple of recipes too- as you’re going to want more and more!
Rohit is a huge foodie- both in size and in passion! He is an aspiring food critic and indulges in cooking once in a while. He shares his tasty insights and delicious discoveries on his travel blog- http://www.transindiatravels.com.
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