Kerala cuisine, also known as Keralite cuisine, is the cuisine of the state of Kerala, located in the southwestern region of India. Kerala cuisine is known for its rich and diverse flavors, which are heavily influenced by the state’s geography, climate, and cultural diversity. Here are some key features of Kerala cuisine.
Kerala Cuisine reflects the multi-regional and cultural aspects of Kerala. Keralites also serve banana leaf meals (usually vegetarian) during lunch which can be an interesting and efficient way in which to enjoy your meal.
- Rice: Rice is a staple food in Kerala, and it is consumed with almost every meal. The state is famous for its high-quality rice varieties like Matta rice (red rice) and Jeerakasala rice.
- Coconut: Coconut is an essential ingredient in Kerala cuisine. Coconut oil, grated coconut, and coconut milk are widely used in cooking. Kerala is often referred to as the “Land of Coconuts.”
- Spices: Kerala is known as the “Spice Garden of India,” and it has a long history of spice trade. Spices like black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger are used abundantly in cooking, adding depth and flavor to dishes.
- Fish and Seafood: Given its long coastline, Kerala is renowned for its fresh and delicious seafood dishes. Fish, prawns, crabs, and mussels are commonly used in curries and fry preparations.
- Sadya: Sadya is a traditional Kerala feast, often served on special occasions and festivals. It consists of a variety of vegetarian dishes served on a banana leaf. Some popular dishes in Sadya include sambar, rasam, avial, thoran, and payasam.
- Curries: Kerala is famous for its rich and flavorful curries. The use of coconut milk and a blend of spices gives Kerala curries their unique taste. Some well-known curries include Kerala chicken curry, Kerala beef curry, and Kerala fish curry.
- Appam and Idiyappam: Appam is a type of rice pancake with a crispy edge and a soft center, while idiyappam is steamed rice noodles. Both are commonly served with curries or coconut-based gravies.
- Puttu and Kadala Curry: Puttu is a cylindrical steamed rice cake, often served with kadala curry (black chickpea curry) or banana. It’s a popular breakfast dish in Kerala.
- Snacks and Street Food: Kerala offers a variety of snacks and street food items like banana chips, pazham pori (banana fritters), and vada (savory fried snacks). The tea shops in Kerala, known as “chayakadas,” are famous for their tea and snacks.
- Desserts: Kerala has a range of sweet treats, including payasam (a sweet rice pudding), unniyappam (deep-fried rice and jaggery fritters), and Neyyappam (ghee-fried rice cakes).
- Banana Leaves: Traditional Kerala meals are often served on banana leaves, as they are considered hygienic and eco-friendly.
Kerala cuisine is not only flavorful but also nutritious due to its use of fresh ingredients and a balanced mix of vegetables, grains, and proteins. It caters to a wide range of tastes, from mild and subtly spiced dishes to hot and fiery ones, making it a culinary delight for food enthusiasts.
Kerala is famous for tea and usually, it is consumed with sugar and milk. Some people are fond of taking ‘plain tea’ which means tea only with sugar and without milk. Crushed ginger can add more flavor to the tea. Keralites also like to have coffee.
Elaneer or tender coconut water can be called a traditional health drink of Kerala. People also like drinking water from young coconuts. Tender coconut water is delicious and nutritious too. It relieves thirst and introduces fluid to the body, nourishing the body, and stimulating or soothing the individual. Elaneer is appreciated for its flavor and also as a source of energy.
Kerala has a local intoxicating drink called Toddy that is made from Coconut. A natural drink that tastes a bit like cider. Coconut toddy is a very popular alcoholic drink that is made from coconut tree sap. Toddy is made from the young bud, extracts and ferments it. Toddy is reputed to have energetic power, keeping the drinker healthy. Toddy tapping is the traditional employment of rural Kerala and this supplements their livelihood.
Kerala Signature Dishes
Puttu and Kadala – It is Kerala’s signature breakfast dish and a must-cook menu in every Kerala house. In the olden days, puttu used to be made in a bamboo steamer
Pazham Pori – Pazham Pori is a sweet dish made with ripe banana dipped in flour mixed with sugar. It is usually sold in roadside tea-shops.
Chakka Ada (Jackfruit ada) – In different regions chakka ada is called as Kumbilappam or Therali appam.Leaf-wrapped fragrant, flavored steamed Jackfruit cakes make your mouth watered.
Kappa with Meen ( tapioca with fish curry )- It is a common man’s food and the toddy shop’s favorite dish. This combination brings genuine traditional Kerala taste.
Kadugu Manga ( tender mango pickle) – It is the unique homemade dish of Kerala and favorite pickle of Keralites
Palada Pradhaman – It is a sweet dessert that is made during Kerala festivals. Paladapradhaman is made of flakes of cooked rice, milk, and sugar.