Kerala is also called as God’s Own Country. The name is credited to the lush greens, flowing waters and scenic beauty of the state. With a cuisine inspired by the long coastline and countless coconut trees, authentic Kerala cuisine has found its place in not just some of India’s best dishes, but also in that of the world. We bring to you bits and pieces of their cuisine in the form of the top 20 dishes you shouldn’t miss from the Keralite cuisine.
Koottu Kari is a well-known vegetarian Tribal Cuisine of Kerala. It is generally prepared in a native style using earthen vessels on fire woods. This gives the dish a traditional aroma and taste. It consists of veggies like Raw Banana, Carrots, Grated coconut, Chickpea, and onion. First we boil all the vegetables then add flavour boosters like green chilli, turmeric and salt. Later you add grated coconut, curry leaves and stir well. In the end you add fried onion on top of the finished dish for additional flavour.
2.Masala Fried Prawns
Prawns are called Chemmeen in Kerala, and Masala fried prawns is one dish that the native dishes are being increasingly liked by tourists as well as native people. There are lots of red chillies and garam masala in it, and the level of spice is quite high. The method of preparation is quite tedious but it is very much worth it. First the primary ingredient i.e. prawns is marinated. Simultaneously, boil red chillis and onion in water until the peel comes off. Mix Green chillies, Chilli powder, Coriander powder, Curry leaves, Ginger and make it into a paste. Fry the paste in oil for some time after mixing it with the grinded paste of red chilli and onion. Add the prawns to this mixture and the dish is complete. Masala Prawns goes well with steamed rice, pao or naan.
3.Appam And Stew
It is commonly said that Vegetable stew and appam is one of the best breakfast dishes ever. This vegetable stew doesn’t have a very strong flavour and is wonderful to have with an appam or idiyappam. The key ingredient in making of this stew is coconut milk. Unlike the generically dishes which have roasted spices the vegetable stew requires its spices to be ground raw. Firstly some poppy seeds, cashews, cinnamon, green chilli and clove are made into a paste. Add all the veggies that you want on in the stew to a pan with oil in it. Add the paste of spices and then add coconut milk until you gain the right consistency.
4.Puttu and kadala curry
If some people do not think appam and stew is their favourite breakfast dish, it is most likely that what they do love is puttu and kadala curry. Puttu is made of lots of grated coconut put in an outer covering of rice flour batter and steamed in a ‘puttu maker’. The result is a cylindrical log that could as well be called the log of deliciousness! Since finding a puttu maker is not that easy, eating out at any Keralite restaurant can give you the exquisite pleasure this dish gives. In contrast to the slightly sweet, but mostly bland puttu, kadala curry is the perfect accompaniment, for it has a riot of flavours, which somehow work together.
It is a Keralite dessert generally made during Onam, as part of the Onam Sadhya or the Onam Feast. The main ingredient that go into the making of this delectable dessert are jaggery, coconut milk and rice flakes. It can be prepared in literally two steps: the first is to boil, wash in cold water and then slightly fry the rice flakes, and the second is to make the jaggery syrup, to which we add the milk and the rice flakes and let it thicken. Serve it hot or cold, all you’ll receive is praise for this dish. Another variation of this dessert is by using sugar and milk instead of jaggery and coconut milk respectively.
This is a shrimp dish that has a coconut curry base to it. This is simple to prepare as well, but requires some work on the shrimp before the actual cooking process. Once the shrimp are ready, all you need to do is toss them in some oil in which ginger, garlic and some mustard seeds have been sauteing. Then add the coconut milk, add spices and let it thicken. It tastes great when eaten with rice, but we say eat it anyway you like. Be it with rice, rotis, parathas, or plain, as the main dish itself.
Fish Mappas are mostly popular in the Christian families of Kerala, and is a Syrian-influenced coconut curry dish with fish fillets. It is served with appam as an accompaniment but can always be served with rice, rotis or even bread. Thee preparation is elaborate, involving various spices and condiments, so ordering it from some place is what we advise you. The flavour profiles marry each other and explode in your mouth with every bite. For every seafood lover, this is something you shouldn’t miss out on if you get the chance to visit Kerala.
8.Meen Muringakka Curry
This is another fish dish, but not any fish, we use dry and salted fish in its preparation. The two main ingredients are dry fish, obviously, and drumsticks. They are cooked in a blend of spices, onions, mustard seeds, coconut paste and various other ingredients. Dry fish has a very unique taste and texture. It tastes of fish, is salty from the dehydration process, and is also chewy, in contrast to the soft pulp of the drumstick and the semi-liquid gravy that it is cooked in.
This is an Onam Sadhya delicacy, a dessert, prepared during the festival of Onam. To make this exclusive Keralite dessert, firstly cut up some ripe Kerala bananas, and reduce them a little. Then add in some spices, some water and cook it until it begins to boil. Finally add in some thick, creamy buttermilk and stir it to make sure everything is mixed well. Your dessert is finally ready for you to indulge in! There are no sweeteners like sugar and jaggery in this dish because of the amount of natural sweetness that Kerala bananas have. Even if you do not taste this dish in specific, make sure to at least try out the bananas from Kerala.
This is Kerala’s version of a coleslaw. It is a raitha made of cucumber, but it isn’t just cut up cucumber pieces thrown into some curd. The cucumbers are first cooked in some spices, and then mixed with coconut. It is cooked until the water from the cucumber completely evaporates, but it is still soft. Then, take it off the heat, add in the curd and stir well so that the spices mix properly with the curd. It serves as the perfect accompaniment to any main course dishes, more so on a hot summer day with the sun shining bright!
South India is famous for its pickles which serve as the perfect accompaniment to either the staple food- rice, or rotis. One of them, probably the most loved, is gooseberry pickle or nellikka achar. Firstly, boil the amlas until tender, and save the water in which you boil them. Hen cut them up into bite-sized pieces and mix some salt. Fry up some mustard seeds, chilli powder and other spices lightly, add in the amla, and finally the remaining water. Let it thicken on the heat until it gets a semi-liquid kind of consistency. It can be stored for months together. It has a tangy and salty after-taste, which will be etched in your mind for a long time.
For every health freak out there, karikku dosa is a dream come true. It has a tinge of salt to it, and is subtly sweet from the natural sweeteners in it. It also has no oil and is a steamed food. It is similar to any other dosa, but for karikku dosa, we add grated coconut and some coconut water when we grind the batter. It has nutrients in coconut water, and carbohydrates and fats in the grated coconut and rice. This makes for a wholesome breakfast.
If you’re someone who isn’t a great cook, but want to portray professionalism, you have to try out Pazham Pori. It is also called Ethakka Appam. It is crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and needless to say, tasty. All you need to do is split some plantains length-wise, dip them in a slightly runny batter of flour and spices, and deep fry it. A hot cup of tea along with these is unbeatable. You can even pass around a plate when you’re watching a movie with friends and family. We ensure you, everyone will marvel at how good a cook you’ve become. But little do they know what you have done!
Theeyal is a recipe that isn’t easy to perfect, but for eating it, all you need is an appetite and a liking for good food! Although tanginess and coconut flavours are the most dominant, it has many other flavours as well. The way all of the complex flavours work together in perfect harmony will leave you astounded. There are various things that go into the preparation of the base curry, but the thing that are added to this base can be entirely suited to one’s liking. You can go vegetarian and add in some onions or other vegetables, and if you love meat, shrimp is an excellent addition to it.
Vattayappam is very similar to Idli as it is a steamed food as well, but the batter is a fermented rice flour one to which we add coconut milk, which gives it the unique taste and texture it boasts of. It has a very light, airy texture and you will feel like you’re trying to eat a cloud. The coconut milk adds a little bit of sweetness, and the fermentation gives the dish a hit of sour as well. . With no oil, this again screams healthy from miles away. It is something that is quick to make, and is perfect to be eaten at any time of the day.
This is an iftar special, mostly famous in the Malabar region of Kerala. Irachi Pathal is a snack that is twice-fried. It has a spicy meat filling that we stuff in rolled out all-purpose flour dough. Then, fry it until slightly golden in oil. Once that is done, remove the pazhals and dip them in an egg mixture that is either spiced, or has a little sugar and cardamom in it. Then, put them in a pan with some ghee or oil and shallow fry them again. Taste them once, and these little pockets of goodness are the only things that you will want to have for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
Chattipathiri is India’s very own Lasagna. Simply put, it is a cake, with alternate layers of a meat filling and crepes. The meat is generally a preparation of chicken, marinated and then fried with some onions or as desired. The crepes are just like dosas, soft fluffy and heavenly. But, the batter is made with all-purpose flour and is not a rice one. We don’t even need to say anything about how it tastes, the recipe speaks for itself.
18.Wayanad Chicken Curry
This chicken based dish is a speciality of the Wayanad region of Kerala. Firstly, we need to marinate chicken in some spices, while simultaneously preparing the base of the curry with onions, tomatoes, and other ingredients. Just before adding in the chicken, we pour in some coconut milk and stir well to incorporate everything. If you’re eating it, it may seem like it took quite some time to prepare, but really, it’s not very complicated.
Erissery is an exclusive vegetarian delicacy that is so tasty despite containing mostly healthy things that you will even believe what all go into its making. It is served as an accompaniment to rice and has varied styles of preparation in various regions of the state. But what is common in all the recipes is pumpkin and coconut which bring sweetness to the dish, and pulses and other vegetables are as per each person’s preference. All in all, any variety that you get to try will leave you in paradise!
Simply put, nerichoru means ghee rice. And for someone who likes subtle flavours and simple food, this one is exactly what you want. Even if you like bold flavours, but you are bored of the same old plain rice, you need to try this out. It takes any accompaniment served with it up a notch and enhances its flavours. Just the aroma that you get you fry up the onions and spices in ghee is enough to leave you salivating!