God's Own Country, Kerala is a paradise of gastronomy. The cuisines of the state are mouthwatering delights. Known as the "Land of Spices", food of Kerala is spicy, hot and aromatic. Food depends on geographical factors. Kerala is snuggled by Western Ghats and Arabian Sea. The region enjoys fares of the sea, poultry, meat, vegetables, rice, coconut, curry leaves, tamarind and spices. Some of the tastiest gourmet dishes are prepared in the coastal state. Ayurvedic herbs are also used to provide nutrition to the delectable food. The culinary delights of Kerala aim to tantalize your senses.
Kerala is a multi-ethnic state. The varied platters of cuisine are a mix of the various ethnicities. The population comprise traditional Hindu Keralites, Christians, Jews, Muslims and tribals. All these communities have co-existed for centuries. The cuisine of the state has adopted this unique multi-ethnicity.
Traditionally, food in Kerala is served on banana leaves' plate. To enjoy the best experience eat with hands. Relish every flavor, taste and aroma. The popular dishes that makes up the Kerala cuisines are:
The traditional vegetarian dish of Kerala. Sadya means feast. Generally eaten in lunch or during a feast, this dish is a totally extravagant affair. Sadya is not a single dish. It comprises of many vegetable dishes served along with rice on the plantain leaf (instead of plates). Relish the meal sitting on the floor cross legged and eating with your hands. The meal starts with a small yellow banana. Next is various kinds of banana chips and papads. The plate is now served with lime curry, mango pickle, injipuli (a thick ginger tamarind curry), lime pickle, thoran (a dry mix of any vegetable with coconut), vegetable stew or olan (gourd is the main ingredient), aviyal (a thick mixture of vegetables in a coconut based gravy), Pachadi (raw mango and curd mixture) and khichdi. Once all the above dishes are served, the rice is served. Mix the rice with Parippu (a curry of pulses), sambhar (a lentil based gravy that came to Kerala from neighboring Tamil Nadu) and kalan (a curry of yam and curd, spiced with pepper). The desert comprises of many different kinds of Payasams (mix of rice flour, coconut milk/milk and sugar/ jaggery, flavored with spices, garnished with cashew nuts and raisins).
Rasam is a tangy dish. It is basically a mixture of chilly and pepper corns powders boiled in diluted tamarind juice. This dish goes with rice or can be taken as soup. Tomatoes can be substituted with tamarind.
A type of steam cake, 'Puttu' is made from rice flour and steamed in long hollow bamboo or metal cylinders. Depending on the taste preference, Puttu can be had with steamed bananas and sugar or with a spicy curry made from gram or chickpeas.
Idiyappam also known as string hoppers is a culinary specialty in Kerala. It is made of rice flour or wheat flour, salt and water. It is generally served as the main course at breakfast or dinner together with a curry (potato, egg, fish or meat curry) and coconut chutney. In Malabar region of Kerala it is also served with sweetened coconut milk.
Appam is the soft pancake made from toddy fermented rice batter, with a soft spongy middle, laced with crispy edges. Consumed with either vegetable or chicken or mutton stew, it is thoroughly mellowed with thick coconut milk and garnished with curry leaves.
Pickles and snacks of Kerala are Crunchy padaps, pickles, chutneys, banana chips, jackfruit chips, pakka vada (crunchy gram and rice flour chips), etc.
Kerala does not have any indigenous cold desserts, but hot/warm desserts are popular. The most popular example is undoubtedly the Payasam. It is a preparation of milk, coconut extract, sugar, cashews, dry grapes, etc. Payasam can be made with many constituents. Paal payasam (made from rice), Sarkkara payasam, made from rice, jaggery and milk, Ada payasam (with Ada, broken strips of baked starch from various sources), ari unda (made from rice powder) 'Parippu payasam (made from dal), Pazham pradhaman (made from banana), Gothambu payasam (made from wheat), but the most famous is Semia Payasam, which is made of vermicelli and milk. Jaggery or molasses is the sweetening ingredient. Other popular sweets include plantain pancakes, Unniappam (fried rice cake), pazham-pori/ethakka-appam (plantain slices covered with a fried crust made of sweetened flour), kozhakkatta (rice dumplings stuffed with a sweet mixture of molasses, coconut etc.), ilayappam (rice, jaggery and coconut mixture covered in banana leaf) and churuttu (rolled thin flour sheets with sweetened rice filling). Kozhikkodan Halva is also popular in Kerala.
Popularly known as Malabar biryani or Thalassery biryani, this is the only biriyani variant of Kerala It is a famous dish all over Kerala for its exquisite taste and aroma. The speciality of this biriyani when compared to the other biryani variants is the choice of rice (Khaima rice and not Basmati) and the method of preparation. Biryani is prepared with hard boiled eggs, pieces of chicken, lamb meat, beef. With the succulent dish; swirls of fried onion and raisins, date chutney, a raita and puffed golden papdums can be savored.
Kerala cooking has enhanced the taste of fish curries. Not only fishes, crabs, prawns, lobsters, mussels and shrimps are also some seafood curries. These dishes are made with coconut milk or tamarind. Curries of Kerala are sumptuous, mouthwatering delicacy. Onions, tomatoes, grated coconut, tamarind, red chilies and the hot spice combine a unique taste. Common curries served are chicken curry (Nadan Kozhi Curry), fish curry (Meen Curry), fish fry (Meen Porichathu/Varuthathu), prawn fry (Konchu Varuthathu), Spicy Steamed Fish (Meen Pollichathu) etc
Kerala being a coastal area is hot and humid. A variety of drinks have come up to cope with the temperatures. Herbal teas are served during mealtimes. There are Ayurvedic teas or water boiled with Cumin seeds, ginger or coriander seeds, served warm or at room temperature. Sambharam, a diluted buttermilk flavoured with ginger, lime leaves, green chili peppers etc. is a soothing drink. Coffee and tea (both hot) drunk black, or with milk and sweeteners are commonly drunk. Fresh lime juice (called naranga vellam, or bonji sarbat in Malayalam), milk shakes and other fruit juices are easily available. Tender Coconut water easily available is the most popular beverage.