Kerala Food Items You Must Try To Treat Your Taste Buds!

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Kerala food thali in a banana leaf

The state of Kerala is known for its lush greenery and backwaters across the globe. It is otherwise known as God’s Own land due to the exemplary beauty of the place. Kerala Foods prepared using very simple ingredients, in fact, the ingredients that are available in every kitchen. The unique flavor of the coconut used in the dishes of Kerala Food makes that taste different from any other cuisine. I love the widespread food items served during special occasions like Onam and Vishu (Kerala New Year). The array of dishes arranged neatly on a green banana leaf is sure to tempt anyone. This list provides the list of must-try dishes from the authentic Kitchen of Kerala. This list covers all the important parts of a food platter, from the starters to the desserts, both veg, and non-veg.

Breakfast of Kerala

Here are some breakfast options that you must try in Kerala:

1. Kerala Appam

Kerala Appam

This is a rice-based Kerala Food. The flour for making these rice cakes is by following a simple method. The rice and urad dal soaked for about for 6-7 hours and then ground into a fine paste. After the flour gets fermented, poured into the special appam pan and cooked. The pan covered with a lid cooks these appams in steam. These appams do not have any oil in it. The fitness freaks love relishing this oil-less rice-based dish. The joy of eating these appams soaked in the vegetable stew is just out of the world.

2. Kerala Vegetable Stew

Kerala Vegetable Stew

The vegetables like beans, carrot, peas, cauliflower, broccoli boiled and water saved for future use. The beetroots won’t do any harm if you do not bother about the color change otherwise this stew is plain white. Green chilies used for adding the required hotness to the dish. The Vegetable Stew uses coconut milk and garnished with curry leaves fried in coconut oil with few julienne gingers. No garam masala added to the dish and it is absolutely tasty when had with Kerala Appam and Idiyappam.

3. Banana Appam

Banana appam

These Kerala Banana Appams are made using mashed bananas mixed with Maida/wheat/Rice flour and sugar is a favorite dessert. This flour rolled made into balls and then fried deep in oil and sugar-coated. This is another favorite Kerala Food amongst the people of Kerala.

4. Kerala Style Onion tomato chutney

Kerala Style Onion tomato chutney

This chutney is very hot and tastes the best with idlis and crisp dosas. The shallots are used here instead of the big onions. The urad dal crackled and shallots added with smashed local tomatoes. It is always better to use the local tomatoes for making the Kerala Food recipes. The dried red chilies then added and fried till the raw smell disappears. The mixture is then cooled and ground into a fine paste. Tempered with coconut oil fried curry leaves, this chutney is for those who love to eat hot foods.

5. Kerala Idiyappam

Kerala Idiyappam

Kerala Food follows the steam style and not fried or roasted. These foods come very handily to those who have a sensitive gut. It is steam food and they can be easily digested. The Kerala Idiyappam knew for its resemblance to the noodles. Unlike Semiya or Vermicelli prepared using Wheat, the Idiyappam cooked using Rice Flour. The rice flour kneaded to a soft dough using hot water and put into the mold for making the idiyappam. They are then steamed and served with any Vegetable side dish or can be had simply by sprinkling some grated coconut and sugar on it.

6. Puttu made with Chamba Rice

kerala chamba rice

Lunch/Dinner

Here are some of the most famous and patent to Kerala lunch and dinner dishes to try.

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Veg

Let us start with the vegetarian options:

1. Kadala Curry

Kadala Curry

This is another favorite Kerala Food. It is fondly famous as the South Indian Chole Masala, in Punjab Kabuli Chana implied whereas, in Kerala Food, Kala Chana predominantly used. Kadala means Chana in Malayalam. The Chana soaked overnight and cooked in a mesh of onion tomato gravy spiced with chili, coriander, turmeric, and garam masala powders. Finally, a fine paste of coconut added to give the Kerala Food touch. This goes well with rice, idly, dosa, appam, idiyappam, and tastes are lovely.

2. Kerala Style Vegetable Stir Fry

Kerala Style Vegetable Stir Fry

While making Kerala Food, I saw that the colour of the vegetables is not changed due to the absence of high fire cooking and too much of deep fry. So, I decided to follow the Kerala style of making vegetable stir-fries to include more nutrients in the diet. The vegetables should be finely chopped while making these dishes. And few teaspoons of grated coconut added at the end gives the enticing aroma.

3. Kerala Parotta

Kerala Parotta

Whenever I think of Kerala Food, the Kerala Parotta also called the Malabar Parotta served along with egg curry, chicken curry, mutton curry and Keralites love having it with beef curry flashes my mind. The soft flaky parotta is not to confuse with the Parathas of North Indian Cuisine. The Maida is the flour that is used to make Parottas. The Maida dough kneaded with milk and soaked for about 4-5 hour. It is then rolled and made into strips and curled, then dipped in a generous amount of oil and soaked again for an hour or two. These parottas have the softest, flaky texture which is equally crispy and melts in the mouth. The vegetarians have this delicious Parotta with Kerala Style Vegetable Kurma. These Parottas like any other Indian bread tastes great with any vegetable or dal-based side dishes.

4. Kerala style Vegetable Kurma

Kerala style Vegetable Kurma

This is a vegetarian side dish for Appam, Idiyappam, etc., prepared using mixed vegetables. The vegetables then added to the sautéed onions, tomatoes, spice powders, green garlic paste. The Kurma varies from the other Kerala food, Kerala stew in the increased usage of garam masala in the dish. Instead of garam masala powder, the whole spices for making this kurma. Vegetarians opt for this Vegetable Kurma as an accompaniment for those lip-smacking Kerala Parottas. This dish easily falls into the list of favorite Kerala food recipes of vegetarians.

5. Raw Papaya Curry

 

Raw Papaya Curry

Kerala Food is also very healthy. The raw papaya has a lot more benefits than the ripe papaya. The Curries are popularly called as Kootan in Kerala. Raw Papayas cooked with spices like red chili powder, coriander, and turmeric along with some salt in a pressure cooker. Finely ground paste comprising jeera, coconut, green chilies added to the cooked raw papaya. The dish then garnished with coconut oil fried curry leaves. This gravy tastes the best when eaten mixed with rice.

6. Pulissery

 

Pulissery

The word Puli used here to denote the tanginess of the dish. The vegetables like cucumber or ash gourd boiled in buttermilk. Later mild spice powders then added to the dish apart from the ground coconut paste. It is one of the main Kerala food in Onam Sadya. Pulissery mixed with rice and Kerala Potato Fry are a heavenly combination.

7. Erissery

Erissery

This curry made using beans, pumpkins, raw bananas, and yam is the best source of instant energy. The carbohydrates obtained from the vegetables are very healthy.

Non-Veg

Now, some non-veg options to try:

1. Nadaan Fish Curry

 

The Nadaan Fish Curry made using the authentic Malabar Tamarind also known as the Pot Tamarind. The fish curries made in the South Indian recipes have the touch of Tamarind predominantly. The tamarind is usually soaked in water, then filtered and used whereas these pot tamarinds dropped into the fish curry as a whole. The Nadaan fish Curry has an extra tangy taste due to the addition of raw mango that also increases the taste of the dish as a whole.

Another best part about Kerala Food is the usage of Small Onion’s alias the shallots. The shallots, the local tomatoes are the best part of this curry. The Nadaan Fish Curry tastes the best with the usage of fishes small in size. The other varieties of fishes like King Fish which are quite larger in size do not actually let the flavor of the gravy infuse into the fish. The small fishes have delicate fishes that allow the infusion of gravy into the fish. The ground coconut added at the end.

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2. Prawns Fry (Chemmeen Varuthathu)

Prawns Fry (Chemmeen Varuthathu)

Chemmeen Varuthathu means Prawn Fry in Malayalam. The Kerala style Prawn fry can be fully dry or semi gravy type. This goes best with any dish made out of rice, wheat, and Maida. The semi gravy form of this dish goes very well with Kerala Parotta and other Indian bread. The dry form of this Prawn Fry serves as a starter and also as a side dish for Sambar Rice, Rasam Rice.

The cleaned Prawns marinated in red chili powder, salt, coriander, and turmeric when fried by coating it with beaten egg and rice flour makes the dry form of the Prawns fry. When the marinated prawns put into onion tomato based gravy or onion spiced gravy, it forms the semi gravy form of the dish.

3. Kozhikode Biryani

 

Kozhikode Biryani, kerala food

Biryani is anyone’s favorite food. Every state in India has its own version of Biryani. The Kozhikode Biryani is one of its kinds. The Kozhikode Biryani has lots of spices in it, obviously, Kerala is the land of spices and less green chilies and it hardly uses red chili powder. I wanted it to look and taste exactly likes the authentic Kozhikode Biryani, so I chose not to use the red chili powder and stick on to only green chilies. The Chicken/Mutton marinated with the green chili paste, yogurt, and other spice powders and kept aside. The onion tomato gravy prepared and the marinated chicken then added to it. The Kozhikode Biryani uses a lot of mint and coriander leaves. The rice and the chicken gravy layered alternatively and dum cooked for an hour. Voila, Kozhikode Biryani is ready to entice your taste buds.

4. Kerala Squid Roast

 

Kerala Squid Roast

The Squids otherwise known as Calamari cooked in the spiced gravy of Onions and Tomatoes taste incredibly delicious with any Indian bread or Rice. This Kerala Food is very popular in Kerala due to the abundance of squid in the seas of Kerala.

5. Kerala Pepper Chicken Gravy

 

Kerala Pepper Chicken Gravy

The Kerala Pepper Chicken Gravy prepared using the fresh pepper that is grown in the hills of Kerala, dominates the taste buds. This Kerala Food is very unique in taste as the flavor of pepper dominates the dish. One need not use any other spice powders like red chilly or coriander powder, just the ground pepper provides the right amount of spice levels to the chicken. The taste of this gravy just lingers in one’s tongue. One can prepare the dry version of pepper chicken by avoiding the usage of ground coconut. The gravy goes well with rice and Indian bread whereas the dry version serves as great starters.

6. Karimeen PollichathuKarimeen Pollichathu

 

Karimeen Pollichathu is nothing but steamed fish. This Kerala Food is more or less like the Indianized version of Grilled Fish. The resemblance being in both the styles, the fish becomes edible using its own oils. This Kerala food recipe is very healthy too as fish has a lot of nutrients and those nutrients retained by opting to steam the fish and not fry them. Another plus point is that the banana leaf covered over the fish after smearing it with the masala. The banana leaf is a powerhouse of nutrients. By steaming, the nutrients of the banana leaf also infuse into the fish. The masala is a mix of major spices like red chili powder, coriander, turmeric powder, and salt.

7. Kerala Chicken Stew

Kerala Chicken Stew

This Kerala Food is yet another delectable dish that has come from the state. The chicken cooked in its own oil without the use of too many spice powders, Once the chicken gets cooked, it must simmer and boil with coconut milk; garnished using coconut oil fried curry leaves and coriander leaves. This chicken stew is the best accompaniment for Kerala appam and Idiyappam.

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Desserts/Sweets/Snacks/Drinks

Desserts/Sweets

Here are some must-try Desserts/Sweets options:

1. Kerala Ada Pradhaman

 

Kerala Ada Pradhaman

This is one of the authentic Kerala Foods. This is a dessert that occupies a predominant place in almost all Kerala festivals. It is commonly known as Payasam or Pradhaman, which is nothing but the South Indian version of kheer. The Ada here denotes the sun-dried rice flakes. The rice is powdered, steamed and made into thin ribbons and sun-dried. This dish uses milk as its main recipe. I added condensed milk for an added flavor. One can skip the condensed milk if they are using full-fat milk. For sweetness, either jaggery or sugar will taste equally good.

Generally, the Ada Pradhaman prepared using sugar and the Parippu Payasam prepared using Jaggery. The milk and the sweetener are slowly cooked and later the rice flakes (ADA) added to the dish. The rice flakes added at the end cook fast as they are the steamed ones. The ghee fried cashews, raisins and dry fruits act as the finishing touch along with some Elaichi Powder. This is one of those recipes which is native to Kerala.

2. Parippu Payasam

 

Parippu Payasam

The Parippu Payasam made using the moong dal. The dal cooked separately in a cooker. Once the milk gets boiled well, the dal then added to the milk and cooked. Meanwhile, the jaggery syrup freshly made when added to the cooked dal in milk, thickens. This mixture is constantly stirred so that it does not form lumps. The payasam served with sliced and fried coconut pieces makes sure it is not a plain drink. This is a very healthy Kerala Food though it is a dessert as it uses Jaggery which is a very good source of protein and dal which is yet again a rich protein source.

Snacks

Famous snack of Kerala

1. Pazhampori

Pazhampori

The Nendran Banana is one of those breeds of bananas cultivated in mass number in Kerala. The Pazhampori are the Nendran banana fritters. Ranging from the small tea shops in Kerala to the five-star hotels, one can find these fritters everywhere. It is one of Kerala’s favorite snacks. The sliced bananas then dipped in a paste of rice flour, maida and sugar and fried in coconut oil. This snack is served alongside hot tea and makes a perfect pair for the rainy evenings.

2. Kerala Potato Fry

Kerala Potato Fry

The fried items in Kerala Food are commonly famous as Mezhugu Peratti. There are hardly few who do not like the taste of potatoes. The Kerala Potato Fry makes a great side dish for all the rice recipes. The potatoes, parboiled with turmeric powder. I fried the potatoes separately in coconut oil and kept it aside. The onions fried in crackled mustard seeds later spiced with red chili powder and dried red chilies to which these potatoes then added and mixed. The final touch of garnishing enhances the flavor of coconut oil in those potatoes. The potato lovers are sure to love this particular Kerala Food recipe.

3. Kerala Banana Chips

banana chips

Thinly sliced Raw Banana deep fried in coconut oil is famous through out the world and its famously known as Kerala Banana chips.

Drinks

A few drinks options to get refreshed

1. Panakam

 

panakam

One of the most favorites of South Indian people, Panakam is prepared using Jaggery, lemon, dried ginger, and water. It is not meant only for the refreshments, but it contains many health benefits. You can get panakam in Hindu temples, mainly in South Indian states served as a Prasad during festival times.

2. Coconut water

kerala drinks, coconut water

Coconut water is synonymous to Kerala and without having it; your trip to Kerala is incomplete. You may think why to try something which can easily be availed anywhere, but coconut water in Kerala has a different taste. It is sweeter in taste and once you are done drinking the water, you will be served the coconut pulp with chilled milk, banana and crushed ice with sugar syrup.

I loved tasting these Kerala Foods and I hope you would try these recipes at home or make it a point to order these dishes while at an authentic Kerala restaurant. The best part of Kerala Foods is that you can make them in a jiffy and they are light in the stomach.

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