Kerala Food Diaries: What to dig into when traveling through Kerala
[vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"] Close your eyes and imagine Kerala. What do you see? Simple, welcoming people, swaying coconut palms, strong sun, lazy backwaters, Chinese fishing nets, rubber plantations, elephant sanctuaries, and even tea gardens. Kerala as they like to say, is God’s own country. It’s cuisine, then, should logically follow that narrative. Like any cuisine, it is influenced heavily by its geography, history and demography. From the Malabari Thalassery Biryani perfect by the Malabari muslim community in the north, to the beef stews that the Syrian Christians in central Kerala excel in, the heavy influence of Tamilian cooking in the Palakkad region and the special vegan cuisine of the Kerala Brahmins, the Kerala cuisine is an interesting amalgamation of flavours, spices and cooking styles. For travelers and foodies, it translates into a lot of unique food to try, so make a list and tick it off! [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image image_width="540" image_height="320" crop="true" svg="false" lightbox="false" frame_style="simple" target="_self" desc="Source: en.wikipedia.org" caption_location="outside-image" align="right" margin_bottom="0" src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Kerala-Meal.jpg"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"] 1.Kerala Meal [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"] A banana leaf meal served during festivals such as Onam and Vishu, the Kerala Sadya is a vegetarian meal of multiple courses complete with condiments and dessert. A typical sadya includes sambhar, parippu, aviyal, kaalan, pachadi, thoran, olan, puliinji, papad, more, pickle, banana and paayasam.  Phew! [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image image_width="540" image_height="320" crop="true" svg="false" lightbox="false" frame_style="simple" target="_self" desc="Source: gluebomb.com" caption_location="outside-image" align="right" margin_bottom="0" src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Appam.jpg"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"] 2.Appam [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"] Soft, fluffy appams with mildly flavoured vegetable or chicken/mutton stew or sweetened coconut milk is a favourite Malayali breakfast. We, of course, can have it for any course in any meal. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image image_width="540" image_height="320" crop="true" svg="false" lightbox="false" frame_style="simple" target="_self" desc="Source: www.youtube.com" caption_location="outside-image" align="center" margin_bottom="0" src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Idiyappam.jpg"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"] 3.Idiyappam [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"]Fine, noodle-like idiyappam is a breakfast item made of steamed rice flour, and typically eaten with sweetened coconut milk or a spicy, hot curry. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image image_width="540" image_height="320" crop="true" svg="false" lightbox="false" frame_style="simple" target="_self" desc="Source: www.sailusfood.com" caption_location="outside-image" align="right" margin_bottom="0" src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Puttu-and-Kadala-Curry.jpg"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"] 4.Puttu and Kadala Curry [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"]Puttu is steamed cylindrical rice cake occasionally filled with grated coconut. Kadala curry made of black chickpeas is what puttu should be eaten with. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image image_width="540" image_height="320" crop="true" svg="false" lightbox="false" frame_style="simple" target="_self" caption_location="outside-image" align="right" margin_bottom="0" src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Biryani-Royale-Biryani-Raita-Kammanahalli-Bangalore.jpg"][mk_padding_divider size="15"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"] 5.Thalassery Biryani [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"]Originating in the northern part of the state, this Malabari version of Biryani has a distinct mughlai-arab influence. Made with a shorter kaima rice grain, it uses the dum method of cooking and can be made with either chicken or mutton. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image image_width="540" image_height="320" crop="true" svg="false" lightbox="false" frame_style="simple" target="_self" desc="Source: www.polkacafe.com" caption_location="outside-image" align="right" margin_bottom="0" src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Kappa-and-Fish-Curry.jpg"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"] 6.Kappa and Fish Curry [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"]Tapoica or Kappa, abundant in Kerala, is boiled, smashed and spiced and usually served with red hot fish curry. Totally must-have if fish is on your mind. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image image_width="540" image_height="320" crop="true" svg="false" lightbox="false" frame_style="simple" target="_self" desc="Source: yummytummytales.com" caption_location="outside-image" align="right" margin_bottom="0" src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Cochin-Fish-Curry.jpg"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"] 7.Cochin Fish Curry [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"]We like it when cities come up with their own versions of dishes - Cochin's version of fish curry made with coconut milk and spices is a must-have. Team this thick gravy with boiled rice or roti. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image image_width="540" image_height="320" crop="true" svg="false" lightbox="false" frame_style="simple" target="_self" desc="Source: deals.webindia123.com" caption_location="outside-image" align="right" margin_bottom="0" src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Kappa-Biryani.jpg"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"] 8.Kappa Biryani [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"]Kappa Biryani is a delicious combination of Kappa (Yuca or tapioca) and Erachi (Beef). Kottayam Style Kappayerachi is especially popular. Cooked Tapioca and beef are simmered in a paste of fried coconut and spices to make the Kappa biryani a versatile dish - have it as an entire Meal or a Side Dish or an evening Snack. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image image_width="540" image_height="320" crop="true" svg="false" lightbox="false" frame_style="simple" target="_self" desc="Source: www.punchin.net " caption_location="outside-image" align="right" margin_bottom="0" src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Meen-Pollichathu.jpg"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"] 9.Meen Pollichatu [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"]Fish is covered with spices, coconut cream and wrapped in a plantain leaf before being steamed to make Meen Pollichatu a unique fish preparation from Kerala. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image image_width="540" image_height="320" crop="true" svg="false" lightbox="false" frame_style="simple" target="_self" desc="Source: www.youtube.com" caption_location="outside-image" align="right" margin_bottom="0" src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Beef-Chilly.jpg"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"] 10.Beef Chilly [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"]When teamed with Kerala Parotas, this spicy beef starter, is almost like every non-veg eating Malayali's comfort food. Beef pieces are cooked in freshly ground spices and sauteed with onions and coconut slices to impart a rich, aromatic flavour. This is what they call Thattukada, Kerela's version of street-side fast food. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image image_width="540" image_height="320" crop="true" svg="false" lightbox="false" frame_style="simple" target="_self" desc="Source: www.skyscrapercity.com " caption_location="outside-image" align="right" margin_bottom="0" src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Arikaduka.jpg"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"] 11.Arikaduka [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"]A Malabari snack prepared by deep frying stuffed mussels with rice flour and spices. Seafood for the snacking soul! [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image image_width="540" image_height="320" crop="true" svg="false" lightbox="false" frame_style="simple" target="_self" desc="Source: www.shopclues.com" caption_location="outside-image" align="right" margin_bottom="0" src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Banana-Chips.jpg"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"] 12.Banana Chips [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"]Wafer thin sliced, deep-fried bananas - these are almost symbolic of food from Kerala. Crispy and slightly salted, the problem with them is that you can rarely stop munching them. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image image_width="540" image_height="320" crop="true" svg="false" lightbox="false" frame_style="simple" target="_self" desc="Source: southindianstore.com " caption_location="outside-image" align="right" margin_bottom="0" src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/jackfruit-chips.jpg"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"] 13.Jack Fruit Chips [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"]These Keralites love their chips. Another variation is made with with finely sliced, mildly salted jackfruit that is deep fried in coconut oil. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image image_width="540" image_height="320" crop="true" svg="false" lightbox="false" frame_style="simple" target="_self" desc="Source: sasisfoodblog.blogspot.com" caption_location="outside-image" align="right" margin_bottom="0" src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Banana-Fritters.jpg"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"] 14.Banana Fritters [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"]Known by different names like Pazham Pori, Ettakka Appam, this is an evening snack prepared by deep frying batter-coated ripe bananas. Did we say they use banana in all forms and ways? [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image image_width="540" image_height="320" crop="true" svg="false" lightbox="false" frame_style="simple" target="_self" desc="Source: www.hungryforever.com" caption_location="outside-image" align="right" margin_bottom="0" src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/ada.jpg"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"] 15.Ada [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"]Dessert from Kerala looks like this - white rice dough stuffed with a sweet mix of coconut and jaggery, placed in a plantain leaf and steamed to perfection. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image image_width="540" image_height="320" crop="true" svg="false" lightbox="false" frame_style="simple" target="_self" desc="Source: www.doublehorserecipe.com" caption_location="outside-image" align="right" margin_bottom="0" src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Avalose.jpg"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"] 16.Avalose [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"]Roasted rice powder mixed with cumin seeds and  jaggery. Sometimes moulded into fine balls or eaten as such. A perfectly healthy tea time snack. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image image_width="540" image_height="320" crop="true" svg="false" lightbox="false" frame_style="simple" target="_self" desc="Source: www.allrecipeshere.com" caption_location="outside-image" align="right" margin_bottom="0" src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Payasam.jpg"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"] 17.Payasam [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"]Payasam is an important item in the Kerala sadya. It is a versatile dessert which can be made with different ingredients and flavours. The common base is rice, sugar and milk but it can include dal, vermicelli, jaggery and cardamom. Usually served with dry fruits such as cashews, raisins and almonds. A bit like the north-indian kheer. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image image_width="540" image_height="320" crop="true" svg="false" lightbox="false" frame_style="simple" target="_self" desc="Source: manjooos.blogspot.com" caption_location="outside-image" align="right" margin_bottom="0" src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Unnakaya.jpg"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"] 18.Unnakaya [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"]Unnakaya is a dessert made by stuffing sweetened coconut, raisins, cardamom into steamed and smashed banana, and then deep frying this creation in ghee. A common Malabari dessert. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image image_width="540" image_height="320" crop="true" svg="false" lightbox="false" frame_style="simple" target="_self" desc="Source: www.thehindu.com" caption_location="outside-image" align="right" margin_bottom="0" src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Kuluki-Sarbath.jpg"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"] 19.Kuluki Sarbath [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"]Cochin's own recipe to beat the heat - a refreshing drink made by shaking lime, ice cubes, basil seeds and nannari syrup together. Carts serving Kuluki sarbath are a common sight in the city. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image image_width="540" image_height="320" crop="true" svg="false" lightbox="false" frame_style="simple" target="_self" desc="Source: instagify.com" caption_location="outside-image" align="right" margin_bottom="0" src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Ice-Orathi.jpg"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"] 20.Ice Orathi [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"]Kerala's version of the iced gola, perfect for beach bums. Grated ice mixed with pickle, peanuts, dry fruits and chana dal. A sweetened option is also available. When on the Kerala beaches, do as the Mallus do! [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Close your eyes and imagine Kerala. What do you see? Simple, welcoming people, swaying coconut palms, strong sun, lazy backwaters, Chinese fishing nets, rubber plantations, elephant sanctuaries, and even tea gardens. Kerala as they like to say, is God’s own country. It’s cuisine, then, should logically follow that narrative. Like any cuisine, it is influenced heavily by its geography, history and demography. From the Malabari Thalassery Biryani perfect by the Malabari muslim community in the north, to the beef stews that the Syrian Christians in central Kerala excel in, the heavy influence of Tamilian cooking in the Palakkad region and the special vegan cuisine of the Kerala Brahmins, the Kerala cuisine is an interesting amalgamation of flavours, spices and cooking styles. For travelers and foodies, it translates into a lot of unique food to try, so make a list and tick it off!
1.Kerala Meal A banana leaf meal served during festivals such as Onam and Vishu, the Kerala Sadya is a vegetarian meal of multiple courses complete with condiments and dessert. A typical sadya includes sambhar, parippu, aviyal, kaalan, pachadi, thoran, olan, puliinji, papad, more, pickle, banana and paayasam.  Phew!
2.Appam Soft, fluffy appams with mildly flavoured vegetable or chicken/mutton stew or sweetened coconut milk is a favourite Malayali breakfast. We, of course, can have it for any course in any meal.
3.Idiyappam Fine, noodle-like idiyappam is a breakfast item made of steamed rice flour, and typically eaten with sweetened coconut milk or a spicy, hot curry.
4.Puttu and Kadala Curry Puttu is steamed cylindrical rice cake occasionally filled with grated coconut. Kadala curry made of black chickpeas is what puttu should be eaten with.
5.Thalassery Biryani Originating in the northern part of the state, this Malabari version of Biryani has a distinct mughlai-arab influence. Made with a shorter kaima rice grain, it uses the dum method of cooking and can be made with either chicken or mutton.
6.Kappa and Fish Curry Tapoica or Kappa, abundant in Kerala, is boiled, smashed and spiced and usually served with red hot fish curry. Totally must-have if fish is on your mind.
7.Cochin Fish Curry We like it when cities come up with their own versions of dishes - Cochin's version of fish curry made with coconut milk and spices is a must-have. Team this thick gravy with boiled rice or roti.
8.Kappa Biryani Kappa Biryani is a delicious combination of Kappa (Yuca or tapioca) and Erachi (Beef). Kottayam Style Kappayerachi is especially popular. Cooked Tapioca and beef are simmered in a paste of fried coconut and spices to make the Kappa biryani a versatile dish - have it as an entire Meal or a Side Dish or an evening Snack.
9.Meen Pollichatu Fish is covered with spices, coconut cream and wrapped in a plantain leaf before being steamed to make Meen Pollichatu a unique fish preparation from Kerala.
10.Beef Chilly When teamed with Kerala Parotas, this spicy beef starter, is almost like every non-veg eating Malayali's comfort food. Beef pieces are cooked in freshly ground spices and sauteed with onions and coconut slices to impart a rich, aromatic flavour. This is what they call Thattukada, Kerela's version of street-side fast food.
11.Arikaduka A Malabari snack prepared by deep frying stuffed mussels with rice flour and spices. Seafood for the snacking soul!
12.Banana Chips Wafer thin sliced, deep-fried bananas - these are almost symbolic of food from Kerala. Crispy and slightly salted, the problem with them is that you can rarely stop munching them.
13.Jack Fruit Chips These Keralites love their chips. Another variation is made with with finely sliced, mildly salted jackfruit that is deep fried in coconut oil.
14.Banana Fritters Known by different names like Pazham Pori, Ettakka Appam, this is an evening snack prepared by deep frying batter-coated ripe bananas. Did we say they use banana in all forms and ways?
15.Ada Dessert from Kerala looks like this - white rice dough stuffed with a sweet mix of coconut and jaggery, placed in a plantain leaf and steamed to perfection.
16.Avalose Roasted rice powder mixed with cumin seeds and  jaggery. Sometimes moulded into fine balls or eaten as such. A perfectly healthy tea time snack.
17.Payasam Payasam is an important item in the Kerala sadya. It is a versatile dessert which can be made with different ingredients and flavours. The common base is rice, sugar and milk but it can include dal, vermicelli, jaggery and cardamom. Usually served with dry fruits such as cashews, raisins and almonds. A bit like the north-indian kheer.
18.Unnakaya Unnakaya is a dessert made by stuffing sweetened coconut, raisins, cardamom into steamed and smashed banana, and then deep frying this creation in ghee. A common Malabari dessert.
19.Kuluki Sarbath Cochin's own recipe to beat the heat - a refreshing drink made by shaking lime, ice cubes, basil seeds and nannari syrup together. Carts serving Kuluki sarbath are a common sight in the city.
20.Ice Orathi Kerala's version of the iced gola, perfect for beach bums. Grated ice mixed with pickle, peanuts, dry fruits and chana dal. A sweetened option is also available. When on the Kerala beaches, do as the Mallus do!
Location:
Cuisine:
Kerala
Nimisha Unnikrishnan

About the author

I am a Post-Graduate in Electronic Media, interested in film making and photography.
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