Kerala is well known for its golden beaches, serene backwaters, exotic wildlife and verdant hills. Aside from these, Kerala is also famous for its cuisine and was once known as the ‘Land of Spices’ as it traded with the West and many ancient civilizations during the bygone eras. The traditional cuisine seen in Kerala today has been influenced by its history, geography, religion and culture.
Over the years, various foreign cuisines have married into the indigenous fare, resulting in unique dishes bursting with flavour. The abundance of local produce like coconut, rice, tapioca, tamarind, curry leaves, mustard and spices has also influenced the cuisine. And with Kerala being a coastal state, there is an abundance of local seafood too included in the cuisine.
One of the traditional dishes of Kerala is the vegetarian ‘Sadya’ which is served during festivals and celebrations. This not-to-be-missed sumptuous meal is served on a banana leaf and consists of rice with around twenty different accompaniments including 1-3 desserts. Some other must-try dishes from Kerala include the following:
Appam with stew
Appam is similar to a thin pancake and made of fermented rice flour and coconut milk. The flavorful delicious stew or ‘ishtu’ has a base of thick coconut milk and spices and can be vegetarian or non-vegetarian.
Puttu and kadala curry
This is a popular breakfast dish and definitely worth a try. The ‘puttu’ is a steamed rice cake cooked inside a mould and garnished with coconut. The ‘kadala’ or black chickpeas curry is flavoured with spices and coconut milk.
This lip-smacking traditional delicacy is made by wrapping the especially marinated pearl spot fish in banana leaves before baking.
This delicately-flavoured curry is made by adding half-fried fish into lightly spiced coconut milk gravy. It’s a must-try delicacy for those visiting Kerala.
Malabar Parotta with Kerala beef curry
The parotta is a flaky, multi-layered flatbread. It goes very well with the typical Kerala-style spicy beef curry cooked to perfection.
Kerala prawn curry
This signature dish from the Malabar region uses various spices, green chilly, brindle berry and coconut milk to make a tangy gravy for the prawn curry.
This spicy, flavorful dish has Muslim origins, but relished by everyone. Special small-grained rice is used here along with a spicy biriyani masala and chicken or meat arranged in neat layers and cooked.
This is a sweet dessert prepared during festivals and celebrations. The ingredients may vary slightly in the use of rice, milk, coconut milk, sugar or jaggery.