Kerala, also known as god’s own country is every traveller’s delight with its serene beaches, exotic wildlife and greenery. This place in the southern part of India is a land of exotic spices and seafood. One might easily be able to identify the taste of Kerala cuisine due to the presence of fresh coconut, curry leaves, green chillies, shallots, coconut oil and a subtle dose of spices that are almost always in the mix.
Kerala cuisine also features a lot of seafood like fish, prawns, mussels, oysters and crabs due to its long coastline. The dishes in Kerala are usually served on a banana leaf and are eaten by hand. So, for those who think that South Indian food is all about idli and dosa, you are in for a surprise! From fish curry to biryani and chicken to payasam, do try these top 10 foods in Kerala and indulge in this gastronomical experience that will leave you wanting for more.
Here is a list of the top 10 foods in Kerala that you must try before leaving-
1. Karimeen pollichathu
Karimeen pollichathu is a star dish in many of the popular restaurants and hotels in Kerala. The dish is prepared using pearl spot fish found in the backwaters of this Alleppey and Kumarakom. It is one of the most famous and traditional seafood delicacies. Karimeen pollichathu is prepared using cleaned pearl spot fish which is marinated in a blend of rich and fiery masala. The fish is then wrapped in banana leaves and cooked on a skillet or tava. The exotic style dish gets its flavours because of its unique way of preparation and cooking.
So, if you visit Kerala then do try the amazing dish that Keralites love and adore.
Best place to eat: Karimpumkala Restaurant, Pearl Spot- Ramada Cochin, Currymean- Vivanta by Taj and oceanos.
2. Meen (Fish) or chemeen (prawns) moilee
For a land surrounded by sea, seafood like fish or prawns is quite special. Kerala style fish or prawn moilee is a favourite of all the Keralites. Lightly fried fish is prepared traditionally into a stew in an earthen pot. It closely resembles Thai curry since it is made in coconut milk and kokum and spices like turmeric, cinnamon, cloves and green chilli giving it a tangy taste. The dish tastes equally good with fish and prawns and is bound to leave you salivating!
Best places to eat: Fusion bay, harbour restaurant
3. Puttu and kadala curry
If you are short on money and looking for a filling breakfast option then this dish is perfect for you. Puttu is a staple breakfast dish eaten all over Kerala. It is a steamed rice cake that is prepared using rice and coconut shavings in cylindrical vessels. Puttu goes with riped bananas, grated coconuts and kadala curry. Kadala curry is a dish of black chickpeas which is made with shallots, spices and coconut milk gravy.
Although the appearance of puttu is very simple it can be quite flavourful. So, do try this breakfast dish that is the favourite of every resident of Kerala.
Best place to eat: Dhe puttu-Kochi, steampot restaurant, Shibu’s kumbalam puttu Kada and Mezban.
4. Appam and stew
Ask any Keralite what their favourite dish is from their hometown, and they will surely say Appam and stew. This dish is a staple from Kerala that is similar to a thin pancake with a soft, thick centre and crispy edges. Appams are made using rice flour, coconut milk, coconut water and a bit of sugar. Appam is paired with stew (or Ishtu) which can be vegetarian or non-vegetarian. The stew is made using coconut milk, shallots, cinnamon, cloves and also has veggies, mango pieces, garlic other ingredients like meat, chicken or beef. The Kerala stew doesn’t have any chilli powder instead, ginger, pepper and green chilli are used to give that spicy flavour.
Appam and stew should not be missed under any circumstances!
Best places to eat: steampot restaurant, paragon restaurant, ariya nivaas and Villa Maya.
5. Palada payasam (dessert)
An ultimate dessert that is prepared during festivals like Onam and many other special occasions. It is a rice kheer that is prepared with palada which is made in almost all the households in Kerala. The palada payasam recipe is the most popular kind of payasam that is pretty easy to make It is made using basic ingredients like- rice ada, sugar, ghee, milk. It is topped with dry fruits and shredded coconut to give it a rich and traditional flavour.
So, if you are a sweet tooth then do try this famous and delicious palada payasam.
Best places to eat: Sriram payasam hut, Priya palada, curry leaf and Naalukettu.
6. Thalassery biryani
Calicut and Thalassery offer the best and the most scrumptious varieties of biryani in Kerala. The seaport of Thalassery was the centre for exporting spices where Arab, European and Malabar cultures came together and influenced the cuisine. Thalassery biryani is made using the rice variety called kaima, which is small-grained and fragrant. The rice is layered with authentic spices and meat in layers. The biryani is cooked on a low flame and the lid of the container is sealed using dough or clay. The dish is served best with curd, naranga achaar (pickle) and salad.
Do try this dish for the ultimate biryani experience.
Best places to eat: Paris restaurant (old), fusion bay, MVK restaurant and paragon restaurant.
7. Dosa and sambhar
Dosa and sambhar is the most famous south Indian dish that makes the deadliest combination. Sambhar is a lentil curry having various vegetables, shallots and spices like turmeric powder, chilli, cumin and tamarind paste. This spicy and sour curry is served with dosas that are made using fermented rice batter. The batter is then spread on a tava till it gets crispy and thin. This dish is a must-try in Kerala and we guarantee that it will not disappoint.
Best places to eat: Jasmine Bay and Aditi restaurant
8. Malabar Parotta with Kerala beef curry
Malabar parotta is a famous Indian flatbread that has its origin in the Malabar region. The parotta is made by preparing a dough using all-purpose flour, ghee/oil and water. The dough is then rolled and then roasted on a tava with ghee. The parottas are then eaten with beef curry which is made by simmering pieces of beef in a curry. The curry is prepared using onions, tomatoes, garlic and spices including star anise, bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves.
Best places to eat:paragon restaurant, Dharmettan’s Beef Curry and Porotta Restaurant
9. Erissery or pumpkin and lentil curry
Erissery is one of the best dishes of Kerala which is prepared using either raw plantains and sliced yams. It is one of the main dishes of Sadhya. It includes a sweet pumpkin which is boiled in water with salt, chillies, dried lentils, grated coconut, turmeric powder, cumin seeds and garlic. The dish is usually served with rice and appears on most menus at religious festivals.
Best places to eat: mary’s kitchen, fusion bay, mezban and kashi.
10. Nadan Kozhi Varuthathu
This is not your regular chicken curry! The red piquant Kerala chicken curry is a perfect blend of spices and the creamy texture of coconut milk. The dish could be prepared in a million ways since every household in Kerala has its recipe for this chicken curry.
One can have this dish with appam, idiyappam, rotis, parotta and even rice. The dish is also a popular street food in Kerala. So, savour the spicy and delicious flavour of nadan kozhi varythathu the next time you visit Kerala. We bet that every Malayali who loves non-vegetarian food has eaten this dish at least once.
Best places to eat:fusion bay, Vazhiyorakkada, spice village and Krishna hotel
The cuisine in Kerala is inspired by an amalgam of Malabari, French, and Arabian cuisines that are enhanced with a touch of Kerala’s culture, giving each dish in Kerala its unique flavour and texture. The cuisine in Kerala is a blend of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. Dishes like appam, puttu, fish curry, dosa and payasam are close to the heart of every Keralite. So, do try these ultimate top 10 foods in Kerala for an unforgettable culinary experience.
Do read these articles for a great experience during your trip to Kerala-