Kerala food is unlike any Indian food you’ll find at your local take away. Many people are yet to discover the traditional food of Kerala and that’s why we are sharing 8 Kerala Dishes Worth Traveling For, that will get your taste buds singing!
South India, in particular the region of Kerala, has its own unique style of cuisine that you might not be aware of. While the North of India, probably what you would recognize as ‘Indian food’ from your local restaurant at home, is characterized by its naan bread, rich spices/sauces, and dairy products like butter ghee and paneer cheese.
Kerala cuisine is characterized by its use of rice, lentils, coconut and lighter, fresh tropical products – compared to the heavy northern cuisine. Discover the sour kick of tamarind. Delight with the taste of locally caught seafood, perfectly ripe fruits, and the smell of new and exciting spices and seasonings that you’ve never before encountered.
When we first visited Kerala, the food of this region opened our eyes to a new variety of Indian dishes that re-defined our previous conceptions of ‘Indian Food’, in the best possible way.
One of the highlights of our trip was the opportunity to visit the home kitchen of a local woman who has lived in Kerala her whole life and whose passion is to spread the flavours of Kerala with all who visit. Patiently teaching every guest about the local produce, passing on ancient cooking techniques, and sharing her infectious love of food with all who enter her home. This was such a memorable experience for both of us.
Actually all throughout our travels in Kerala, it was meeting the people, learning about their passion for food and learning to cook it ourselves that were the most educational and rewarding experiences we had in Kerala. It is only when you immerse yourself with the local people, the nature that surrounds them, and their traditional ways of living (which of course includes cooking and eating) that you create everlasting memories, and discover what Kerala is truly about.
Kerala Tourisms latest campaign is focusing on “Human By Nature”, a campaign that shows the beautiful and unique connection that Keralans have with their natural environment.
And this was so evident when we visited.
Everything was fresh, everything was made with locally grown produce, and everyone we met was so proud of their land and the food that comes from it. From the local fisherman you pass while lazily boating through the back-water canals, to the woman out tending to her livestock. The people at the local restaurant who are excited that you are eating at their favorite place and can’t wait to tell you what is best to order. This is what we found in Kerala – a truly local and authentic food experience.
Everything culminated to show us just how proud these people are of their land, their history and of course their food. And there is nothing more human than complete strangers bonding over the pure joy of food!
In this article, we are going to tell you a bit more about the local food you can expect to try during your visit to Kerala. There is nothing quite like eating traditional dishes direct from the source, rainforest to table. Whether you’ve tasted South Indian food before, or not, you’ll be salivating at the authenticity of Traditional Kerala dishes like these:
Dosas are a true staple of South Indian cuisine. It is most similar to a crepe, and its main ingredients are rice and black gram. They are often served with sambar and chutney although they sometimes come with idli podi as well.
Dosas can be served at any time in the day, but they are a particularly healthy breakfast. They are high in protein and calcium which makes them an excellent way to get going in the morning.
Idlis: Steamed Rice Cakes
Idlis are another one of the most popular breakfast foods from South India. These steamed rice cakes are made by steaming a batter of black lentils and rice. This unique cooking method makes them very easy to digest, and your body absorbs the nutrients very quickly. And once again, this dish is an excellent source of protein.
There are several ways to make idlis. Two of the most popular methods are with rice or with idly rava.
Appam with Stew
Appam is a pancake-like dish that’s made of rice and coconut. It’s usually eaten for breakfast or dinner, and it’s often served with vegetable or chicken stew. This delicious dish has crispy sides with a fluffy center. They are traditionally fermented with toddy, but yeast is another popular method.
Appam is also healthy and relatively easy to make. It only takes a few ingredients, but it does generally have to ferment overnight.
Vadas: Savoury Doughnuts
Vadas are a good choice if you’re looking for a delicious snack from South India. They are very similar to doughnuts, and they’re usually served as snacks or as sides for other dishes. You can often buy them from street vendors while you’re wandering through South India.
There is a very wide variety of different ways to make vadas, but they’re most often made with legumes or potatoes. Black gram or Bengal gram are usually used as batters.
Malabar Parotta with Kerala Beef Curry
Malabar parotta is another popular street food from South India. This is a flatbread that’s made with maida flour. When you combine it with Kerala-style beef curry, it’s a match made in heaven. And although it’s rarely made in homes, it’s actually very easy to make.
Along with maida, other common ingredients are water, oil, and salt. Eggs and milk are also often used.
Kerala Prawn Curry (Chemmeen Curry)
Kerala Prawn Curry, also known as Chemmeen Curry, is one of the best curry dishes you can make. On top of that, it’s an incredibly easy dish to make. In fact, some might say it’s one of the easiest ways to prepare prawns.
Along with prawns, some of the other major ingredients include coconut milk, rice, and your choice of vegetables. You can also make it as spicy as you like while you’re preparing it. Please make sure your prawns are deveined before you begin preparing this dish.
Biryani is quite possibly the single most well-known dish to originate from South India. It could be simply described as curry mixed with semi-cooked rice. And perhaps more than any other food on this list, there is a vast array of different ways to prepare biryani. In fact, some say that Hyderabad alone has 40 different versions!
Some of the other important ingredients include Indian spices, rice, eggs, vegetables, and your choice of meats. Biryani is a complete meal in itself and can be served at any time on virtually any occasion.
Palada Payasam (Dessert)
Finally, we have Palada payasam. This is South India’s favorite dessert, and it’s often served during holidays and special events. It’s sure to satisfy your sweet tooth after you’ve finished the main course.
Palada payasam consists of only three ingredients. These are sugar, milk, and ada rice. Be aware that preparing palada payasam can be a long complicated process if you decide to make the ada from scratch which is the traditional way of doing it. If you want to save some time, you might just grab some ada rice at your local store.
Now you have an idea of what Kerala cuisine has to offer. isn’t it fascinating?
You are sure to discover some flavours and new dishes that will instantly become your new Indian favourites and have you wondering how it’s taken you this long to discover such fresh and exquisite South Indian flavours.
Of course, you can probably try and see if a South Indian restaurant has opened up in your home town but I can tell you it will never be the same as being there and experiencing it for yourself. The atmosphere, the people, the smells, and of course the tastes, are all of the elements that come together in a rich tapestry that entices the senses and makes up the heart and soul of Kerala.