There’s a reason travelers go gaga over the varieties and flavours of Kerala cuisine! Inspired by a fusion of Malabari, French, and Arabian influences and enhanced with a touch of Kerala’s unique culture, each dish in the state is an experience in itself that will leave you asking for more! From the enormous platters of vegetarian dishes like Sadya, the range of non-vegetarian dishes made with seafood, lamb, and beef, to the sweet and savoury delicacies, the food of Kerala will take you on a joyride!
Kerala Cuisine: An Overview
The staple food of Kerala is greatly influenced by the history and culture of the state. It’s a blend of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, in which the latter is prepared a variety of items like fish, poultry and red meat. Rice, fish, and coconut are the most common ingredients of almost all Kerala famous food. The flavours are enhanced with chillies, curry leaves, mustard seeds, turmeric tamarind, black pepper, cardamom, clove, ginger, cinnamon, and asafoetida.
Though the traditional food of Kerala, including Kerala Sadya prepared during festivals and celebratory ceremonies, is vegetarian, the contemporary food of the state includes non-vegetarian dishes. One might also be able to identify the taste of coconut in most dishes in Kerala, owing to the fact that blending grated coconut and its milk in food for thickening and flavouring is a common culinary practice in India. Other than that, Kerala is also a heaven for seafood lovers because of its thriving fishing industry, making seafood a common part of meals here.
So, for all those who think Kerala food is all about idlis and dosas, you’re in for a surprise! Come over to this charming coastal town with the choicest Kerala tour packages and indulge in the best gastronomic experiences that probably won’t let you leave!
Popular Vegetarian Dishes In Kerala Food
1. Idiyappam with Curry
Also known as Noolappam in Kerala cuisine, Idiyappam is made of rice flour, salt and water with a number of thin strands or sevai entwined together to make the lovely texture that this dish bears. It is this texture that makes it versatile. You can have it with all kinds of curries, but it tastes best with Egg Curry.
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2. Erissery (Pumpkin and Lentil Stew)
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A hit in every kitchen of Kerala, this curry is made from either raw plantains or sliced yams. It is typically prepared by boiling slightly sweet pumpkins with salt, chillies or pepper, dried lentils, grated coconut, turmeric powder, cumin seeds and garlic, and is served on a bed of rice once cooked. A favourite Kerala food item on the menu of religious festivals like Onam, Erissery provides the perfect culinary for foodies who are always on the lookout for new flavours!
3. Puttu and Kadala Curry
A famous breakfast recipe out of the many Kerala dishes, Puttu is a cylindrical steamed rice cake that is cooked in a mould with grated coconut. It can be served with ripe bananas, grated coconut, and kadala curry (the Keralite version of ‘Kala Chana’! Don’t be fooled by the simple appearance of this dish; Puttu can be very flavoursome!
4. Appam with Ishtu (Stew)
A staple element of Kerala cuisine made from fermented rice flour, coconut milk, coconut water, and a teensy bit of sugar, Appam is essentially a thin pancake with crispy edges. These crepe-like bowls are best enjoyed with Ishtu, a kind of stew that has been originally derived from the European stew and is made from coconut milk, cinnamon, cloves and shallots, and sometimes also mango pieces and vegetables. The aroma of spices with the sweet fragrance of coconut milk is enough to lure foodies to the kitchen!
Tip: Though it is originally a vegetarian dish, one can also have it with chicken or lamb.
5. Ela Sadya
Ela Sadya is the king of all vegetarian Kerala food! With more options than you’d ever have seen on your platter, Sadya is prepared and served during religious and ceremonial occasions like festivals, weddings, and more. This royal lunch combination of dishes like pachadi, kichadi, pulissery, olan, sambar, varavu, thoran, aviyal, payasam, served with hot steaming rice on a banana leaf can give the enormous thali of Chokhi Dhani a run for its money any day!
6. Parippu Curry (Dal Curry)
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Though unexpected, it is actually one of the most delicious of Kerala food recipes. The Dal Curry served in Kerala is made from small gram and ghee with a considerable amount of spices and chillies. Don’t skip on this one by mistaking it for your typical ‘ghar ki dal’!
7. Dosa Ghee Roast with Kerala Style Sambar
Listed among the ‘World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods’, dosa and sambar in Kerala cuisine make up for a deadly combination! Made from fermented rice and lentils, the ghee roast dosa is first cooked to perfection in pure ghee, and then roasted till it gets as crisp as it can.
8. Idli Sambar
Perhaps the most popular among Kerala food, idli sambar are fondly eaten in not just all households in Kerala, but everywhere else in India! The perfect combination of fermented rice cakes and a deliciously tangy curry of aromatic spices and vegetables like lentils. Apart from being a favourite of foodies for its taste, idli sambar is also universally accepted for the health benefits it bears.
Tip: Have it with coconut chutney for a flavourful experience!
Non Vegetarian Dishes In Kerala Cuisine
9. Nadan Kozhi Varuthathu (Spicy Chicken Fry)
Served with onion, spices, garlic, and vinegar on a banana leaf, Nadan Kozhi Varuthathu is fried chicken made with a generous amount of spices. One can have it with chapattis, Kerala Porotta (a layered flatbread made from maida flour), appam or rice. It also serves as a popular street food in the list of Kerala dishes served with dosa. Have Nadan Kozhi Varuthathu on your next trip to Kerala and you’ll forget KFC for sure!
10. Kerala Style Prawn Curry
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This traditional food of Kerala is a must-try for all prawn lovers! The traditional prawn curry of Kerala is sprinkled religiously with chilli and pepper, other than salt and turmeric, and is then cooked in whole coconut milk and jaggery before it is finally garnished with curry leaves. In fact, trying this exotic seafood dish is one of the best things to do in Kerala. One can have it hot with steaming rice or chapattis for a trip to heaven!
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11. Karimeen Pollichathu (Fish)
One of Kerala’s most traditional delicacies, Karimeen Pollichathu is a dish made out of the Pearl Spot Fish, a speckled fish commonly found in the backwaters of this Alleppey and Kumarakom. Karimeen Pollichathu is originally a Syrian Christian delicacy but has now become part of the rich Kerala cuisine. The dish is prepared by marinating the fish in a mixture of lemon juice, red chillies, and other ingredients (most of which are varieties of spices!), and then wrapped and baked in plantain leaves. Its exotic style of preparation gives it a rich, unique flavour and leaves diners asking for more!
12. Kerala Style Fish Molee
An absolutely sensational element of Kerala food, the Kerala Style Fish Molee is a favourite of all residing in and visiting Kerala. The significant flavour of coconut and kocoum, also know as Kudampuli will simply blow your senses! All seafood lovers must try this dish at least once in their life to take the concept of fine dining to a whole new level!
13. Nadan Beef (Kerala Style Beef)
Kerala is perhaps the only place in India where you can still eat beef without any constraints or guilt. Nadan Beef is among the most popular Kerala dishes that is either roasted or cooked in thick gravy. It is cooked to perfection for that perfect melt-in-the-mouth consistency before being served with Porotta, chapatti, or rice. Beef lovers, here’s another fabulous reason for you to escape to Kerala!
14. Kozhikodan or Thalassery Biryani
Biryani in Kerala? Hell yeah! It’s actually the most exotic Kerala cuisine. Among the various places in Kerala, Calicut and Thalassery offer the most irresistible varieties of biryani in Kerala. One can enjoy the taste of Chicken 65 or Chilly Chicken Stir Fry with a sumptuous platter of Kozhikode or Thalassery Biryani for the ultimate biryani experience.
15. Kallumakkaya Ularthiyathu (Mussel Stir Fry)
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There’s no end to the varieties of seafood one can have in Kerala. Every seafood dish in Kerala holds a unique touch, thanks to the diversity of Kerala food recipes. The mussels are first cleaned out with care and then cooked in shallots, garlic, chillies, turmeric, garam masala, and a heavy dose of grated coconut. Though Kallumakkaya Ularthiyathu requires a lot of time and effort in its preparation, it’s totally worth the wait and will leave you licking the curry off your fingers!
16. Erachi Varutharacha Curry (Fried-Ground Mutton Curry)
The king of non vegetarian Kerala food recipes, Erachi Varutharacha is unlikely to be on the menu of any of the restaurants in Kerala. It is a traditional food of Kerala, oiginally of the Syrian Christian community. The preparation usually involves frying and grinding the spices before mixing them in a base of mutton, onions and tomatoes. We bet you’ve never had as delicious a dish of mutton as this!
Popular Desserts In Kerala Cuisine
17. Palada Payasam
A delicacy amid the main food of Kerala that’s now won the hearts of foodies all over the country, Palada Payasam is a sweet rice kheer prepared with palada. The dish is usually prepared and served during auspicious occasions and festivals like Onam. Among the many varieties of payasam, Palada Payasam is the most popular and is made out of basic ingredients like rice ada, milk, sugar, and ghee.
18. Ethakka Appam (Banana Fritters)
Pazham Pori or Ethakka Appam are both different, but equally delicious varieties of banana fritters that serve as a traditional tea time snack in the households of Kerala. They’re simply ripe bananas coated with plain flour and deep-fried in oil and serve as an integral part of Kerala cuisine. Make sure you don’t leave Kerala without trying some of these with your dose of evening tea or coffee.
19. Ada Pradhaman
Another of those lip-smacking varieties of payasam one can have in Kerala, Ada Pradhaman chiefly contains pieces of rice batter (ada) and sweet coconut milk in which they are served. It is the favourite dessert dish in the list of Kerala food and one spoonful is all you need to fall in love with it!
20. Chatti Pathiri
A layered pastry made in North Malabar and Malabar regions of Kerala, Chatti Pathiri is similar to the Italian lasagna. The difference is that, in the Keralite version, flat breads or pancakes made out of flour, eggs, oil and water are used instead of cheese sheets. The filling is the best part of these sugary Kerala dishes! Chatti Pathiri is filled with sweetened beaten eggs, nuts and raisins, and is seasoned with cardamom. You’ll surely forget your western versions of crepe pancakes and pastries once you bite into this one!
Frequently Asked Questions About Kerala Cuisine
What are some of the most popular snacks from Kerala?
A. Pazham Pori (banana fritters), Sugiyan, Bonda, Valsan, Unniyappam, Ela Ada, and Bread Pakoda are among the most popular snacks in Kerala that are usually served during the tea or coffee time in the evenings.
What is special about Kerala food?
A. The Kerala staple food revolves around an abundance of coconut, rice, tapioca, and spices like black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger. Kerala famous food also features a variety of seafood like fish, prawns, mussels, lobsters, and crabs owing to the state’s long coastline.
How costly is food in Kerala?
A. One can enjoy all the famous Kerala cuisine at very affordable rates. From dining at a budget restaurant to buying food items and making the various dishes of Kerala at home, the typical cost for two persons will usually range from INR 250/- to INR 1,000. From vegetarian cuisine, non-vegetarian dishes, snacks, desserts, beverages like tea and coffee, and other knick-knacks, food in Kerala is relatively inexpensive.
Why does the drinking water of Kerala appear pink?
A. The drinking water served at the many restaurants, hotels, and even homes in Kerala is the essential Kerala Ayurvedic Water. It’s usually hot and slightly pinkish in colour because of the Ayurvedic elements it bears. It is commonly used all across the state and considered crucial for health and well being.
This water is made by boiling the heartwood of Pathimugam tree (East Indian redwood or ‘sappan wood’), a multipurpose tree which is popularly used for various medicinal purposes in Kerala. Pathimugam is being widely used since ancient days and is considered an excellent herbal medicine.
Still drooling? Give yourself the best culinary experience with this variety of Kerala cuisine to dive into! Book yourself a thrilling trip to Kerala with TravelTriangle and engulf in the truckload of experiences that this state has to offer. And don’t forget to share this with your foodie friends!
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