Kerala the state is known as God’s Own Country because of its natural beauty. The beautiful hill stations, serene backwaters, wildlife, and tranquil beaches together make the state magnificent.
The state is famous for its culture and tradition, stunning architecture, tea plantation, ayurvedic treatments, art forms like Kathakali and Kalaripayattu (Sword Fighting), and most importantly for mouthwatering Kerala food.
Kerala is the land of species, famous for making unique varieties of Kerala food. The mouthwatering Kerala food has numerous authentic dishes bursting with a lot of flavors. Also, there are a lot of differences seen in the taste and styles of north and south Kerala dishes.
The food in Kerala is a blend of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. In non-vegetarian, there are a variety of food items like fish, chicken, and red meat. Coconut, rice are some of the main ingredients of vegetarian food with species like cardamom, clove, ginger, cinnamon, chilies, curry leaves, mustard seeds, turmeric tamarind, black pepper, and asafoetida.
Coconut is one of the main ingredients in many Kerala foods. It is used either in the chopped form or in garnishing form in many dishes. The edible coconut oil is also widely consumed and used in Kerala food and to make drinks such as coconut toddy.
The traditional food of Kerala Sadya prepared during festivals and ceremonies is a vegetarian meal, served on a plantain leaf consisting of boiled rice, vegetable curries, side dishes, chutneys, pickles, and deserts.
Cuisine you should try in Kerala
Here are some of the famous dishes of Kerala.
Idiyappam with Curry
Idiyappam is one of the famous dishes of Kerala. It is also known as Noolappam in the state. Idiyappam dish is the food of Kerala made of rice flour, salt, and water with thin strands of vermicelli entwined together. It is a rice-based dish, a perfect combination of curries and sambars. The best curry that Idiyappam blends with is egg curry.
The best places to eat Idiyappam with Curry is at Saravana Bhavan, Jasmine Bay.
Puttu and Kadala Curry
Puttu and Kandala curry is the famous breakfast recipe out of the many Kerala foods. It is a cylindrical steamed rice cake cooked in a mold with flavors of grated coconut. This Kerala food is served with kadala curry, a Keralite version of Kala Chana.
The best places to eat Puttu and Kandala curry are Mezban, Saravana Bhavan.
Nadan Kozhi Varuthathu
This dish is one of the most famous Kerala food with delicious flavors of spices. It is known as Nadan Kozhi Varuthathu or spicy chicken fry. The spicy fried chicken is fried with onion, garlic, chili, vinegar, and coriander and served on a banana leaf. We can have the spicy chicken with Malabar Parota, chapattis appam, or rice.
The best places to eat Nadan Kozhi Varuthathu are Spice Village, Fusion.
Kerala-style Fish Molee
Kerala-style Fish Molee is the special dish of Kerala for locals. The fish is used to make this dish is usually a kingfish or a seer fish. Fish Molee lightly fried is made into gravy in a pot with coconut milk and kokum and spices like turmeric, pepper, and cloves along with fresh green chilies to give it a tangy flavor.
The best places to eat Kerala-style Fish Molee are Fusion Bay, Harbour Restaurant.
Karimeen Pollichathu is a pretty famous dish in Alleppey because of the Pearl Spot Fish, a fish found in the backwaters of the Alleppey and Kumarakom. It is prepared by marinating the fish in a mixture of lemon juice, red chilies, and few other ingredients and then wrapped and baked in plantain leaves.
The best places to eat Karimeen Pollichathu are Oceanos, Adam’s Teashop.
Check out my other blog ‘Kerala Backwaters’, to know all about Kerala backwaters.
Malabar Parota is the mouthwatering street food that originated from the Malabar region. The crispy, flaky with crumbly texture leaving a sweet yet savory taste within your mouth. It is the must-have Kerala food when traveling to Kerala.
The best places to eat Malabar Parota are Paragon Restaurant, Jubilee Restaurant Sultan Bakery, Arippa.
Dosa Ghee Roast with Kerala Style Sambar
Dosa soaked in ghee and dipped in Kerala style sambar is a mouthwatering and famous combination of flavors for taste buds. It is made from fermented rice and lentils. Dosa and sambar can be found everywhere in India.
The best places to eat Dosa Ghee Roast with Kerala Style Sambar in Kerala are Jasmine Bay, Aditi Restaurant.
Erissery is a Pumpkin and Lentil Stew, one of the main dishes in Sadya. It is prepared by slightly boiling the sweet pumpkins with salt, chilies or pepper, dried lentils, grated coconut, turmeric powder, cumin seeds, and garlic. The Pumpkin and Lentil Stew, once prepared is served with the rice.
The best places to eat Erissery in Kerala are Kashi, Mezban.
Kerala Prawn Curry
Prawn curry is a dish that is not to be missed by prawn lovers when traveling to Kerala. The food is unique because it brings out amazing flavors with simple components. The prawn curry of Kerala is made by sprinkling the dish with chilis, salt, pepper, and turmeric, after which it is cooked in whole coconut milk and jaggery, finally garnishing with curry leaves.
The best places to eat Prawn curry in Kerala are Adam’s Teashop, Fort House Restaurant.
Thalassery is a special biryani of Kerala, made of kaima or biryani rice with authentic spices, meat, and dry nuts. The biryani is served with curd, lime pickle (achar), and salad. Thalassery biryani is specially made during the Eid celebration in Kerala state. Calicut and Thalassery city of Kerala makes the most irresistible varieties of biryani in Kerala.
The best places to eat Thalassery biryani in Kerala are Fusion Bay, Suprabhatham.
Check out my other blog ’12 Amazing places to visit in Kerala’.
Idli Sambhar is one of the best food in Kerala for breakfast and is the most healthy food in Kerala. Idli sambar is fondly eaten not just in Kerala but everywhere else in India also. It is the perfect combination of fermented rice cakes and a deliciously tangy curry (Sambhar). One should also have coconut chutney to enhance the taste of the dish.
The best place to eat Idli Sambhar is at Aditi Restaurant, Ginger House.
Drinks in Kerala
Coconut toddy is an exotic drink of Kerala, also known as Kallu or Neera. A type of wine extracted from palm trees. It is of two kinds of flavors that are sour and sweet.
The Sweet Toddy is the non-alcoholic version. It is the unfermented sap from coconut whereas, the Sour Toddy is fermented and is known as the alcoholic version similar to the North Indian drink bhang.
One must watch the locals extracting toddy from the coconut tree if they are traveling to Kerala state. Also, with this palm toddy, locals prepare vinegar, palm jaggery, and yeast from it.
Panakam drink is a tasty and refreshing drink. Panakam is made with lemon, water, jaggery powder, cardamom powder, crushed black pepper, and dried ginger. It is a South Indian favorite drink, especially in the states of Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu.
Kulukki Sherbeth is also called shaken lemonade. It is loaded with antioxidants and is rich in fiber. The highlight of the drink is lime and basil seeds. Basil seeds play an important part in cooling your body. To make the drink, you need lemons, a few pieces of crushed ice, one tablespoon of basil seeds, a couple of sliced Thai green peppers, sugar, and honey.
Sambharam or buttermilk is the traditional drink of Kerala. The drink helps your digestive system, refreshes you fully, and gives an instant energy booster in the hot summer afternoons. It is made with curd, garlic, ginger, green chili, asafoetida powder, coriander leaves, mint leaves, mango, and pineapple slices.
Ada Pradhaman is the King Of Sweets in Kerala. It is one of the varieties of payasam. The dish contains coconut, banana, rice, and jaggery into the sweet coconut milk in which it is served.
The best place to eat Ada Pradhaman is at God’s Own Country Kitchen, Le Coffee Time.
Palada Payasam is the most common sweet dish of Kerala. It is made by boiling the vermicelli and rice in milk and adding flavors in Palada Payasam with cardamom, sugar. One can also add raisins and cashew nuts for the taste, texture, and garnishing. The sweet is a part of the Onam special meal.
The best places to eat Palada Payasam are Saravana Bhavan, Curry Leaf.
Chatti Pathiri is a layered sweet dish, a combination of lasagna and pie in appearance. It is the alternate layers of pastry sheets with the filling of sweet custard, nuts, raisins, and topped with sesame seeds. Popular Malabari dish which is made during the Ramadan festival at the time breaking the fast.
The best places to eat Chatti Pathiri are Cochin Majlis, Saravana Bhavan.
Banana Halwa is the most relished sweet of Kerala. The Halwa is made using ripened bananas cooked with sugar, ghee, almonds, and cardamom powder. It gives the Halwa a smooth consistency, glossy texture, and dark brown color. The Banana Halwa is a dessert that melts in the mouth.
Coconut And Mawa Laddoo
Kerala state is known as the land of coconut. So, in Kerala the coconut is used in many different forms in Kerala dishes.
The coconut laddoo made with mawa is a famous sweet of Kerala and mawa is a good sugar substitute, which makes the flavor of the laddoo quite heavenly.
Mutta Maala a Ramadan special dish in Kerala. It uses three ingredients which are egg, sugar, and water. The sweet is made by pouring the egg yolk through a small hole into boiling sugar water so that the yolks resemble strings.
You can also check out my other blog ‘Everything about Kerala Culture’, to know more about Kerala.
Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)
What all snacks are popular in Kerala?
Banana chips, Banana fitters (Pazham Pori), Sugiyan, Bonda, Valsan, and Bread pakoda are among the most popular snacks in Kerala. These snacks are served during tea and coffee time.
What is the staple food of Kerala?
The staple food is the food that is consumed daily. Kerala’s staple food is rice, coconut, fish, chicken, and spices.
Which fruit is famous in Kerala?
The famous fruits of Kerala are the Kerala Banana called Ethakka and the sweet banana called Pazham. Also, the Jackfruit known as Chakka is the famous fruit of Kerala. It is the largest fruit in the world.
Which fish is famous in Kerala?
There are many fishes available, but the one that is quite famous here is Pearlspot Karimeen fish.
What is the traditional food of Kerala?
Sadya is the traditional food of Kerala. It is a vegetarian meal served on a plantain leaf consisting of boiled rice, vegetable curries, side dishes, chutneys, pickles, and deserts. The Sadya dish is prepared specially for religious and ceremonial occasions like festivals, weddings, and more.
What is the famous sweet of Kerala?
The most famous sweet delicacy of Kerala is the Ada Pradhaman. Pradhaman sweet is the Kerala version of payasam/kheer.
What are the breakfast dishes of Kerala?
Kerala has many breakfast dishes like Appam, Idli, Dosa, Idiyappam, Puttu, Rava Upma, and Pathiri.
Why is Kerala known as the land of spices?
Kerala is known as the land of spices because the weather in Kerala is perfect for growing different spices. Back in time, the port of Musiris was the center of all the spice trade in Kerala.
The spices grown in Kerala are Pepper, Cardamom, Vanilla, Clove, Cinnamon, Ginger, Turmeric, etc.
What is the traditional drink of Kerala?
Sambharam or buttermilk is the traditional drink of Kerala. The delicious spicy buttermilk is made of curd, green chilies, ginger, and yogurt.
Which is the best place to buy Kerala sweets?
Kerala sweets are available in any local sweet shops and bakeries. But there are specific places also that are popular for the best version of a sweet, one of them is the Calicut region, also known as Kozhikode, famous for its authentic halwa (Aluva).