Lay back and enjoy the cuisine from India’s back waters, where food is a celebration. Now let’s go through the best of Kerala’s delicacies.
Chemen Pollichathu (Pan Seared Prawns)
Parceled in a banana leaf, this seafood preparation is full of flavour and succulent. The prawns are first marinated in salt, chilli, turmeric, fennel and pepper powder with a hint of garlic paste. After about half an hour, the prawns are seared in a pan of hot oil and then added to thick coconut base gravy. Once the prawns are cooked in it, it is kept to cool a little before wrapping portions of it in a banana leaf. Enjoy it with Malabar Paratha or rice.
Made with kingfish or Pomfret, the fish Mappas is mellow, melt in the mouth, and oh so delicious! The fish is first marinated in a mix of pepper, chilli, and turmeric powder with a little vinegar. The vinegar makes the fish tender. Before adding it to a coconut milk curry, the fish is shallow fried and left half cooked so that it is fully done while simmering in the curry. The best way to relish this dish is to have it with appam or rice.
Cheera Thoran (Red Spinach Stir Fry)
This tasty, healthy vegetarian side dish has a very distinct flavor. You can taste the red spinach very well as the preparation doesn’t use many spices. Just a little grated coconut, green chillies, shallots and coconut oil. Voila! We’re ready to dig in. The chopped spinach is stir-fried in oil with the remaining ingredients. You can enjoy this side dish with steaming hot rice or chapatis.
Meen Muringakka Curry
This curry is made with sardines and drumsticks (muringakka). While the sardines are marinated in salt and turmeric, the drumsticks are cooked with freshly ground coconut, garlic, chilli powder, tamarind paste, shallots, fenugreek seeds, chopped ginger, chillies and curry leaves. This specialty is a flavour bomb. Lastly, the marinated sardines are added to the drumstick gravy and tempered with coconut oil, mustard seeds, shallots, and a whole dry red chilli.
A main course delicacy, the Kozhikode Biryani dates back to the time of Mughal rule in South India. The chicken is marinated in 13 spices with curd, lemon juice and ghee. The main Biryani masala can be bought or made with cinnamon sticks, cardamom, cloves, caraway seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, star anise, ace and nutmeg. The Biryani is made with a special rice called Wayanadan Kaima or Jeerakasala rice. The Biryani is garnished with a few cashews, raisins roasted in ghee or butter and mint and coriander leaves. Serve this heavenly, tantalizing rich biryani with curd, lemon pickle, mint chutney and papad..
Kerala Fish Curry Or Toddy Shop Fish Curry
If there’s a dish that can have a warm yet tart taste with undertones of spicy chillies, the Toddy shop fish curry has it all. For a change, this full-bodied thick gravy can be made without coconut milk! It is cooked in an open-mouthed earthen pot that enhances the taste. The tartness comes from brindle berries which does not let fat build up in the body.
Kappa Vevichathu ( Mashed Yuca With Coconut)
If you’re looking for some food which is healthy and soothing at the same time, this dish is for you. The kappa or tapioca was considered poor man’s food once in South India and now has become an exotic delicacy. This delight is quite similar to the quintessential English “Mashed potatoes with gravy”. Though it is flavourful and a little more coarse. If you like, you can mash the tapioca to a creamy, thick consistency as well. The boiled and mashed tapioca is then cooked a little more in coconut, onion, curry leaf, green chilli, garlic, cumin and turmeric powder mix. The mashed tapioca preparation is then tempered with a few sliced shallot, curry leaves and mustard seeds in coconut oil. This mushy and appetizing delicacy can be eaten as it is or served with a spicy beef or fish curry.
Chicken Stew And Appam
Christmas in Kerala means any sort of non-vegetarian stew accompanied with appam, kallappam or puttu. The stew is healthy, soulful and sapid. Mild on spice and creamy, its just the right thing you’d want to make over a lazy weekend. It can be cooked with any sort of poultry even fish. You can add any vegetables you’d like but for a more traditional taste, add potatoes, carrots and onions. The spices used have a warm characteristic like ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and whole pepper. The curry is a coconut milk base with cashew nut paste which makes it creamy, copious and scrumptious.
You can enjoy this with bread slices as well.
This creamy, tomato and coconut milk base moilee with Pomfret is one of my personal favourites. If you’re looking for something that is delicious and doesn’t take much time, this is the recipe you should try out. The Pomfret doesn’t take much time to cook and has very less bones. A pan is heated with oil to crackle the mustard seeds first followed by curry leaves, sliced garlic, ginger, green chillies, sliced onions, turmeric and diluted coconut milk. The gravy is first boiled and then the Pomfret is added with salt and cooked for 5 minutes. Further, thick coconut milk and roughly chopped tomatoes are added in the end. Enjoy this lip smacking, heavenly goodness with rice, bread or appam.
Mathanga Erssery (Pumpkin Curry)
This dish is a traditional part of the Onam Sadya. The preparation is easy and really healthy. The pumpkin is boiled and mashed with precooked black eyed beans and tempered with grated coconut, cumin seeds, green chillies, mustard seeds and a few curry leaves. The erssery can be enjoyed with both rice and Malabar Parathas.
A thick mix of vegetables and coconut seasoned with coconut oil and curry leaves., this is another must have in the Onam Sadya. This dish is a burst of flavour from all the vegetables used and has very less spices. The veggies include ash gourd, cucumber, carrot, drumstick, beans, potato, plantain, raw mango and elephant foot yam. The vegetables are cooked until soft but not mushy and added to a mix of curd and salt, then tempered with coconut oil, curry leaves, cumin seeds and a few green chillies. Enjoy this scrumptious and healthy delicacy with rice or adai.
This dish if made well, shows how two completely opposite flavours can work in harmony as well. Ever thought of grated coconut with its milky, light sweet taste compliment tamarind? Theeyal is the best way to experience this deliciousness. The grated coconut is roasted until brown then mixed with a few spices and ground to a fine paste. The ulli or onion is then sauteed with curry leaves then the coconut paste, soaked tamarind and salt is added. It is simmered for a while with some water and tempered with mustard and fenugreek seeds.
Kerala Style Vegetable Stew
This stew is for all of them who’re vegetarians and would love to try the mellow, slightly sweet, warm and soothing stew that is usually made with poultry in Kerala. This version of it is made with a mix of carrots, potatoes, green peas, onions and the traditional Keralan aromatic spices which include fresh ginger and garlic as well. The curry base is yet again thin and thick coconut milk. It is garnished with curry leaves fried in ghee, this humble vegetable delight will be a sure hit among all.
Nadan Beef Curry
Pack a vessel full of Keralan spices, beef and a few potatoes and there you have it. A dish that completes any festivity in Kerala. This curry is packed with a punch of flavours and is quite spicy seeing that the beef pieces are first fried in a red chilli mix. The curry is not a coconut base but comes from the juices of the meat along with the other spices and a little water. It is served best with appam, puttu or rice. This is quick and easy to prepare and can be enjoyed whenever you’re out of much in the refrigerator.
Kadala Curry With Puttu
This combination delicacy is a favourite among all Keralites. Served as breakfast, you can enjoy this hearty meal during lunch and dinner as well. Kadala is basically, black chickpea/ Bengal gram. The curry is robust in taste with a handsome amount of spices and a tangy kick with tomatoes. The puttu is made of rice flour which is steamed with grated coconut in a cylindrical mould. It takes around 3-5 minutes to cook. You can enjoy the kadala curry with rice or appam as well and the puttu with other curries too.
Tried rice noodles? Tried Idiyappam? Well, that’s Kerala’s take on the almost transparent Chinese/Japanese rice noodles. Here in Kerala, its made with none other than coconut and looks like little heaps of thin white strings. This goes well with almost any vegetarian or non-vegetarian curry. Enjoy this with some sweetened thick coconut milk as well.
Aadu Atti Pathal
Quite like the lasagna, Atti Pathal is a North Malabar delicacy that is made of all purpose flour crepes and then layered with a meat or vegetable filling as the person likes. The crepes are dipped in an egg mixture one by one and then the layering takes place inside a deep dish. Once the layering is done, the Atti Pathal is cooked in the deep dish for a few more minutes and garnished with fried brown onions and a few cashew nuts.
Pazham Pori (Banana Fritter)
Imagine, fresh sliced banana fritters being made and served. Crisp, crunchy golden brown goodness with a mellow fragrance of cardamom and steaming hot bananas. The bananas are cut into thin vertical slices and dipped in a sweet flour batter with a little cardamom if you like and then deep fried. The excess flour mix also can be deep fried into any shape to make some crisp and soft fritters. Enjoy with a hot cup of tea and some minty chutney if you please.
Want a quick, easy and tasty dessert and you’re in a hurry/ then the paal payasam is just the right thing to do. All you need for this recipe is milk, water, rice, sugar, cardamom and cashew nuts toasted in ghee. It goes well with any Indian course and is perfect for any time of the year be it festivities or any other day. The thick, luscious, rice pudding is no less than soul food just the sweet way!
Traditionally served on a banana leaf, the Sadya is the quintessential “Indian thali” which is found in a lot of Indian states. Sadya basically means banquet in Malayalam. It comprises around 24-28 dishes served as a single course. The usual items in a Sadya includes boiled rice, payasam, avial, thoran, lime pickle, sambar, buttermilk, kaalan, pachadi and is strictly vegetarian. The traditional way to enjoy this meal is experiencing it in a communal ceremony, sitting on the floor and eating with your right hand.