Keralan Cuisine deliciously diverse 

The food of Kerala pretty obviously comes from the State of Kerala which is on India’s Malabar Coast. It is an absolute world away from the rest of India and its peaceful surroundings include a network of canals, the Western Ghat mountains where tea, spice and coffee are grown. There are palm-lined beaches and dozens of sanctuaries for monkeys, tigers and elephants.

Traditional food in Kerala

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Keralan cuisine comes from Southern India, and the food culture of Kerala is perhaps the most underrepresented of all India’s cuisines. It is, however, arguably the most delicious and diverse of Indian cooking. It has a long and varied history springing from Kerala’s cultural diversity and the abundance of fresh ingredients, herbs and spices available to Kerala cooks. The food of Kerala would be considered a micro-cuisine.

Favourite food of Kerala

Southern Indian or Keralan cuisine tends to be lighter and less spicy than Northern cuisines, the main feature of  Keralan cooking is the curry leaf and the coconut, and frying is always done with coconut oil. Kerala was known as the spice capital and along with nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, black pepper, tamarind, and ginger they sent items like tapioca, tea, coffee and cocoa to other European shores.

An Indian woman preparing Keralan cuisine She is grinding herbs and spices in a giant stone mortar and pestle. The woman is wearing a bright yellow sari and sitting on a green stool. Her hands are covered in spice paste that is an orange colour

The cuisine of Kerala is characterized by the use of coconut, either chopped or grated and used as garnishes, coconut milk or paste is used to thicken gravies and coconut oil is used for cooking.

a beautiful plate of curry from Keralan cuisine. Bright with strips of chicken, carrots and green leaves.

Though one can’t imagine Kerala food without chillies, curry leaf, mustard seed, tamarind and asafoetida (which is a very pungent spice used to replace onion, and garlic in Indian cuisine).

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Vegetables such as beans, cabbage, beetroot, carrot, onion, potato and yam form part of the cuisine of Kerala. Bananas and coconut are available year-round and are also a staple of the Kerala diet. Seafood is also very popular as some of the freshest fish and shellfish are available year-round in Southern India.

14 favourite dishes of Kerala

Kerala cuisine features both vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods equally. The non-vegetarian dishes are characteristically very hot and spicy while the vegetarian food is flavoured mildly and not as heavily spiced. A great deal of Keralan cuisine is based on seafood and shrimp with some incredibly layered and complex curry dishes found in India.

Kerala Prawn Curry

A beautifully creamy curry made with sweet jaggery sugar and coconut milk. shrimp are added and the curry is served with chapatis and steamed rice.

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Erachi varutharacha curry

This curry comes from the Syrian Christian community and it is a mutton curry served with the Keralan Malabar parota.

Parathas – Malabar Parota

Unlike Naan bread, which is much thicker flatbread baked in a tandoor oven, Kerala Malabar Parathas are flaky, chewy, crispy delights, these parathas are a perfect snack and a tasty utensil for scooping up a creamy curry. This paratha style is cooked in coconut oil, giving them their distinctive flavour and cannot be compared with Northern Indian style parathas, which are thicker and have added ingredients such as spinach or onions.

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Idiyappam

Idiyappam is one of the most famous dishes in Kerala. It is composed of rice vermicelli noodles These thin vermicelli noodles are made with rice flour, salt and water. The noodles are then pressed into a flat round shape and steamed. This pancake or crepe-like cake is then served with curries they are also called ‘Noolappam’.

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Nadan Kozhi Varuthathu (Spicy Fried Chicken)

Nadan Kozhi Varuthathu is made with garlic, onion, vinegar, coriander and chilli sauce and is pretty spicy. It is traditionally served on a banana leaf.

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Dosa dipped in sambar

A dosa is of course that famous Indian style crepe. These Dosas are fried in ghee and then soaked in a Kerala-style sambar. One of Kerala’s most famous foods this dosa can be found in virtually every Kerala restaurant.

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Biryani/pulao

Rice is also a feature, two types of rice dishes are favoured in the region, pulao and biryani  (pilaf). A Pulao is made by sautéing the ingredients (rice, meat and vegetables) together in a specific quantity of stock of water. Biryani is used to denote a dish where the rice and meat or vegetable are partially cooked separately then layered and finish cooking on low flame with other ingredients, such as dried fruits and nuts.

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Karimeen pollichathu

Karimeen, or pearl spot fish, is a favourite of the sea-food lovers in Kerala. They live in ponds, streams and canals in Kerala and is considered the traditional fish of Kerala. The Karimeen is marinated in a rich spicy masala blend and baked in a banana leaf.

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Kadala Curry

Kadala curry is made with black chickpeas and lots of spices. Black Chickpeas, are also called Desi Chickpeas and are similar to yellow chickpeas except they tend to be smaller and range in colour from dark brown to black.

Puttu

It is a steamed rice cake that is round and log-shaped and is cooked with coconut shavings. It is traditionally served with Kadala or black chickpeas curry.

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©Jackson John 10, CC BY-SA 4.0

Appam & Ishtu

Appam is a rice pancake that has a thick and soft centre and a thin and crispy exterior. Usually eaten with south Indian stews where veggies or meat is tenderised coconut-based spicy gravy.

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Payasam

Payasam is a unique dessert in this state and is prepared using rice, lentils and occasionally bananas. The crispy poppadoms made of rice and the various chutneys are an inseparable part of a Kerala meal. The indigenous teatime snacks of Kerala like the banana and tapioca chips and rice cookies have come to be loved across the country.

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Erissery

Erissery is a hearty curry is made with lentils and pumpkin. It is one of the ‘kootan’ or traditional side dishes of Kerala. Eriserry is cooked in coconut milk with, vegetables and spices like turmeric, cumin and more.

Parippu Curry

Parippu is a dal or yellow lentil curry with lots of ghee and spices it is one of the main curry dishes of Kerala the lentils are cooked in ghee and flavoured with a generous amount of chillies and spices.

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The studying and eating of these types of indigenous cuisines are the best part of travelling. Virtually every country has a tiny place, village or town that specialises in combing locally grown fruits, vegetables and herbs with the foods they love from their homelands. Next time you are in a new country try and find some unique indigenous foods to try.

Paratha bread served with chili chicken what to eat in Kerala India

If you are lucky enough to visit Kerala one of the absolute must do’s is staying on a houseboat here is Kate’s story My Alleppey Houseboat Experience in Kerala it didn’t begin well but ended beautifully.

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