Kerala, a state in the southwestern region of India, is known for its diverse culture, lush green landscapes, and its rich and flavorful cuisine. The state has been referred to as “God’s Own Country,” and with good reason. The food in Kerala is a melting pot of flavors and aromas, reflecting its long history of trade and migration. From tangy seafood dishes to spicy vegetarian curries, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this gastronomic paradise. Here are seven food items that are must-tries for anyone visiting Kerala.
Kerala’s food culture is a reflection of its rich and diverse history. The state has been shaped by centuries of trade and migration, and as a result, its cuisine is a mix of different flavors and ingredients. The state’s location on the southwestern coast of India means that seafood is a staple in the local diet, and the use of coconut and spices such as curry leaves, mustard seeds, and turmeric, give the food a unique and distinct flavor.
In Kerala, food is not just about sustenance; it’s an essential part of the local culture and is deeply intertwined with religious and social events. For example, the traditional vegetarian feast, Sadya, is an integral part of special celebrations and festivals and is an opportunity for families and friends to come together and enjoy a delicious meal.
The food culture in Kerala is also characterized by a strong emphasis on using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. This not only ensures that the food is of the highest quality but also helps to support the local economy. Many families in Kerala have their own kitchen gardens where they grow their own vegetables, spices, and herbs, making it easier to access fresh ingredients for their meals.
7 Must-Try Food Items in Kerala
- Appam and Stew: Appam is a type of soft and spongy rice cake that is often served with a rich and flavorful stew. The appam is made with fermented rice batter and coconut milk, giving it a light and fluffy texture. The stew, which can be vegetarian or non-vegetarian, is a blend of aromatic spices, vegetables, and coconut milk. This dish is often served for breakfast and is a staple in many homes in Kerala.
- Sadya: Sadya is a traditional vegetarian feast that is served on special occasions such as weddings and festivals. The meal is served on a banana leaf and consists of a variety of dishes, including rice, dal, vegetables, curries, and pickles. One of the most popular dishes served during sadya is avial, a mixed vegetable curry made with coconut, yogurt, and spices.
- Seafood: Kerala is surrounded by the Arabian Sea, and as a result, seafood is an integral part of the local cuisine. Some of the must-try seafood dishes include karimeen fry (fried pearl spot fish), squid roast, and prawn curry. The seafood is always fresh and flavorful, and the spices used to season the dishes are a blend of traditional Indian spices and local spices grown in Kerala.
- Puttu and Kadala Curry: Puttu is a steamed cylinder-shaped dish made of rice flour and coconut. It is often served for breakfast or as a snack and is enjoyed with a spicy black chickpea curry known as kadala curry. This dish is a popular breakfast item in Kerala and is a great way to start the day with a filling and flavorful meal.
- Dosa and Chutney: Dosa is a type of fermented pancake made from a batter of rice and urad dal. It is a staple in South Indian cuisine and is enjoyed all over India. In Kerala, dosa is often served with coconut chutney, a tangy and flavorful sauce made with fresh coconut, green chili, and spices.
- Payasam: Payasam is a traditional sweet dish that is often served as dessert during festivals and special occasions. It is made with milk, sugar, and a variety of ingredients such as rice, vermicelli, or semolina. The dish is flavored with cardamom, saffron, and other aromatic spices, making it a sweet and flavorful treat.
- Banana Chips: Banana chips are a popular snack in Kerala and are enjoyed by people of all ages. They are made by thinly slicing ripe bananas and deep-frying them until they are golden and crispy. The chips are then seasoned with salt and chili powder, giving them a spicy and savory flavor. Banana chips are a great snack to have on hand when you need a quick and satisfying pick-me-up.
Another aspect of Kerala’s food culture is the use of the banana leaf as a plate. In many traditional households, a meal is served on a banana leaf and eaten with your hands, making it a hands-on and interactive dining experience. The banana leaf is also believed to have health benefits, as the heat from the food helps to release the nutrients from the leaf and into the food.
In recent years, Kerala’s food culture has become increasingly popular, and its cuisine is now recognized globally. The state’s diverse and flavorful cuisine is attracting food lovers from all over the world, and many restaurants and hotels are now offering traditional Kerala dishes on their menus.
In conclusion, Kerala is a food lover’s paradise and a must-visit destination for anyone who loves delicious and flavorful cuisine. From the tangy seafood