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21 Kerala Famous Food

Kerala famous food is a celebration of the rich culinary heritage and diverse cultural influences of the southwestern Indian state. Kerala, a state located in the southwestern region of India, is renowned for its vibrant culture, scenic beauty, and mouth-watering cuisine. It is a popular tourist destination and a food lover’s paradise.

Kerala cuisine is a fusion of traditional Indian, Arab, and European flavours, creating a unique and diverse range of flavorful and nutritious dishes. The cuisine is heavily influenced by the state’s abundant availability of coconut, seafood, and spices, which are essential ingredients in most dishes.

Kerala’s cuisine celebrates its rich cultural heritage and diverse communities. It is known for its distinct flavours, aromatic spices, and healthy cooking techniques.

From traditional vegetarian dishes to seafood specialities, Kerala cuisine offers something for every palate. In this article, we will explore some of the famous foods from Kerala that have gained popularity within the state and worldwide.

Kerala cuisines
Kerala cuisines

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Kerala Famous Food

1. Erissery (Pumpkin And Lentil Stew)

Erissery
Pumpkin and lentil soup

Erissery is one of the famous dishes of Kerala, which is savoured by travellers and locals in Kerala. A hit in every kitchen of Kerala, this curry is made from raw plantains or sliced yams.

It is typically prepared by boiling slightly sweet pumpkins with salt, chillies or pepper, dried lentils, grated coconut, turmeric powder, cumin seeds, and garlic and is served on a bed of rice once cooked.

A favourite Kerala food item on the menu of religious festivals like Onam, Erissery provides the perfect culinary for foodies always looking for new flavours!

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2. Puttu and Kandala Curry

Puttu and kandala curry
Varutharacha Kadala Curry

Puttu and Kandala’s curry is enjoyed by the people of Kerala, which is considered one of the popular traditional Kerala dishes. A famous breakfast recipe out of the many Kerala dishes, Puttu is a cylindrical steamed rice cake cooked in a mould with grated coconut.

It can be served with ripe bananas, grated coconut, and kadala curry (the Keralite version of ‘Kala Chana’! Don’t be fooled by the simple appearance of this dish; Puttu can be very flavoursome!

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3. Apam with Ishtu Stew

Appam and ishu stew
Mutton Stew

Appam with stew, one of the traditional Kerala dishes, is flavoursome and yummy. It is a famous food of Kerala, made from fermented rice flour, coconut milk, coconut water, and a teensy bit of sugar. Appam is essentially a thin pancake with crispy edges.

These crepe-like bowls are best enjoyed with Ishtu, a kind of stew originally derived from the European stew and made from coconut milk, cinnamon, cloves, shallots, and sometimes also mango pieces and vegetables. The aroma of spices with the sweet fragrance of coconut milk is enough to lure foodies to the kitchen!

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4. Ela Sadya

Ela Sadya
Sadya and a variety of side dishes

Ela Sadya is one of the finest meals incorporated in traditional Kerala dishes whose aroma will water your mouth. Ela Sadya is the king of all Kerala food items! With more options than you’d ever have seen on your platter, Sadya is prepared and served during religious and ceremonial occasions like festivals, weddings, and more. 

The traditional authentic Kerala meal, Sadhya, is served with rice and 12-20 dishes in a fresh plantain leaf. The most popular festival in Kerala, Onam is incomplete without this traditional meal. 

The side dishes are collectively called? Kootan? and the traditional rice as? choru?. Achar(pickle), puli inji (ginger-tamarind paste), pappadam, pazham (banana), kayyavarathathu (banana chips), moru (buttermilk), and parippu (dal and ghee paste) are other dishes served with? kootan?. Kootan differs in preparation and flavour.

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5. Karimeen Pollichathu (fish).  

Karimeen Polichathu
Kerala traditional fish

This is one of Kerala’s traditional delicacies. Karimeen or pearl spot fish is a speckled fish commonly found in the backwaters of this state.

This is traditionally a Syrian Christian delicacy but has become part of Kerala’s rich cuisine. Pearl Spot fish is marinated in a mixture of lemon juice, red chillies, and other ingredients, wrapped and baked in plantain leaves, giving it a unique flavour.

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6. Malabar Parotta with Kerala beef curry

Malabar Parotta
Layered flat bread

Layered flat bread that originated in the Malabar region called Parotta is made by kneading maida (plain flour), egg (in some recipes), oil or ghee, and water. The dough is beaten and later shaped into a spiral with thin layers.

The ball is rolled flat and roasted into a Parotta with ghee. This is then eaten with beef curry – pieces of beef simmered in a curry made with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and spices like bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, black peppercorns, and star anise.

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7. Palada Payasam (dessert)

Palada Payasam
Rices ada

A sweet rice kheer prepared with palada is a delicacy made in almost all Kerala households during the festival of Onam and many other special occasions. There are many variations of it. However, the traditional recipe uses only basic ingredients like rice ada, milk, sugar, and ghee. Rice ada is easily available in Indian Kerala grocery stores.

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8. Kerala Pawn Curry.  

Kerala pawn curry

If you are in Kerala and miss out on the phenomenal prawn curry, your trip will remain incomplete.  It’s amazing how simple components in a dish come together to make something so beautiful.

This traditional prawn curry is sprinkled with chilli, salt, and pepper, then dipped in lots of coconut milk, and jaggery, and then finished with curry leaves. The humble coconut (in all its kinds) notches up the dish to another level!

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9. Thalassemia Biryani

Thalassery biryani

The prominent cuisine from Thalassery, the northernmost town in Kerala, is a special biryani with relishing aroma and taste.

This dish is made of Kaima or biryani rice, authentic masala made of specific spices and dry nuts, and stuffed meat, especially during the celebration of Eid in the Malabar region of Kerala. The dish is especially savoured with curd, lime pickle (naranga achar), and salad.

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10. Coconut Toddy

Coconut Toddy
Kerala exotic drink

Kallu, or coconut toddy, is an exotic drink prepared from tender coconut in Kerala. It is of two kinds- sour and sweet. The sweet kallu is very much refreshing while the locals ferment it to make arrack or the sour kallu (around 8% alcohol content), which is similar to the North Indian drink ‘bhang’.

The locals prepare vinegar, palm jaggery, and yeast from this palm toddy. If you visit Kerala, try watching the locals extract toddy from the coconut tree. It would be a very interesting experience.

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11. Chatti Pathiri

Chatti pathiri
Look-alike Italian dish lasagna

Like the Italian dish lasagna, chatti pathiri is a layered pastry mostly prepared in the Northern Malabar region. This sweet is made of flour, egg, and oil and specially seasoned with cardamom and other spices along with nuts and dry fruits-One of the major dish prepared at the end of the Ramadan fasting period.

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12. Idiyappam and Egg Curry. 

Idiyappam and egg curry
Egg curry sauce

Another beloved breakfast dish for Malayalis (natives of Kerala) is the combination of Idiyappam and Egg Curry. Idiyappam is made by forming a dough of rice powder and hot water, which is then squeezed down through a mould to create thin mounds of noodles, which are then steamed.

A spicy curry with boiled eggs forms a perfect foil to the otherwise bland Idiyappam. Idiyappam can be teamed up with stew or enjoyed by drenching it in coconut milk. It is also called Nool Puttu in certain parts of Kerala.

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13. Avial

Avial
Traditional sadya

One of the healthiest vegetarian dishes, Avial is made with mixed vegetables cooked in a paste of ground coconut and flavoured with coconut oil. It is an imperative component of the traditional Kerala feast, called sadya.

This is a thick and dry dish and is eaten with rice. One of the interesting stories behind the dish’s origin is that it was created by the character of Bhima from Hindu mythology, who, upon being forced to cook during his exile, chopped up whatever vegetables he could find and then cooked them together.

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14. Ethakka Appam (Banana Fritters)

Ethakka Appam
Banana fritters

One of the most common snacks found throughout the length and breadth of Kerala, the banana chips are a favourite among Malayalis and people from outside.

These golden and crunchy chips are made from raw plantains, which are thinly sliced, left to dry in the sun, and then deep fried. A common sight in street shops all over the state, it is one of the most popular tea-time snacks served at homes and restaurants around Kerala.

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15. Kappa Kuzhachathu.  

Kappa Kuzhachathu
Kerala Kappa

Once a staple food of a certain section of Malayalis in Kerala, this is considered the food of the humble folk. A simple comfort food is made by boiling tapioca, smashing it, and mixing it with spices.

It can then be eaten with various accompaniments such as green chilly chutney, fish curry, chicken, or beef curry. Due to the naturally bland taste of tapioca, aka kappa, the accompaniment savoured with it is generally on the spicier side.

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16. Idli Sambar

Idil Sambar
Healthy Kerala breakfast meal

How about relishing some South Indian food when in Kerala? Idli Sambhar is one of the best foods in Kerala, which is good for breakfast, and the best healthy food in Kerala.

Perhaps the most famous food of Kerala, idli sambar, is fondly eaten not just by all households in Kerala, but everywhere else in India! The perfect combination of fermented rice cakes and a deliciously tangy curry of aromatic spices and vegetables like lentils.

Apart from being a favourite of foodies for its taste, idli sambar is also universally accepted for the health benefits it bears.

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17. Nadan Kozhi Varuthathu (Spicy Chicken Fry)

Nadan Kozhi Varuthathu
Kerala spicy fried chicken

Want to add spice to your palate? Then, you must try one of the national foods of Kerala, which is spicy chicken fry or Kerala-style prawn curry, as there is no single national food in Kerala.

Served with onion, spices, garlic, and vinegar on a banana leaf, Nadan Kozhi Varuthathu is fried chicken made with a generous amount of spices. One can have it with chapattis, Kerala Porotta (a layered flatbread made from maida flour), appam, or rice.

It also serves as a popular street food in Kerala dishes served with dosa. Have Nadan Kozhi Varuthathu on your next trip to Kerala, and you’ll surely forget KFC!

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18. Nadan Beef (Karela Style beef)

Nadan beef
Kerala style-beef

Kerala is perhaps the only place in India where you can still eat beef without any constraints or guilt. Nadan Beef is among the most popular Kerala dishes roasted or cooked in thick gravy.

It is cooked perfectly for that perfect melt-in-the-mouth consistency before being served with Porotta, chapatti, or rice. Beef lovers, here’s another fabulous reason to escape to Kerala!

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19. Kallumakkaya Ularthiyathu (Mussel Stir Fry)

Kerala mussel stir-fry
Mussel stir fry

There’s no end to the variety of seafood in Kerala. Thanks to the diversity of Kerala food recipes, every seafood dish in Kerala holds a unique touch.

The mussels are cleaned out carefully and then cooked in shallots, garlic, chillies, turmeric, garam masala, and a heavy dose of grated coconut. Though Kallumakkaya Ularthiyathu requires a lot of time and effort in its preparation, it’s worth the wait and will leave you licking the curry off your fingers!

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20. Erachi Varutharacha Curry (Fried-Ground Mutton Curry)

Erachi Varutharacha
Fried-ground mutton curry

The king of non-vegetarian Kerala food recipes, Erachi Varutharacha, is unlikely to be on the menu of any of the restaurants in Kerala. It is a traditional Kerala food, originally from the Syrian Christian community.

The preparation usually involves frying and grinding the spices before mixing them in a base of mutton, onions, and tomatoes. We bet you’ve never had as delicious a mutton dish as this!

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21. Thenga Choru (Coconut Rice)

Thenga Choru
Kerala coconut rice

This simple yet rich and nourishing rice dish combines two of the most abundant resources of the land into a warm, comforting accompaniment for literally any veg or non-veg dish from the traditional Nadan or Malayali kitchen.

Considered the poor man’s biriyani, this dish dominated dinner tables in Muslim households before the mainstream biriyani of the north conquered it.

Coconuts are native to the region and have played a fundamental role in shaping the livelihood of the people, from providing timber for boats and houses to using the fibre for ropes and cloth, to using its delicate sweet flesh in cooking curries and sauces and using the oil to fry food and its medicinal properties.

Freshly grated coconut is combined with dry grated coconut and blended with shallots, mustard, green chillies, and curry leaves to add a subtle yet spectacular flavour to this humble rice preparation. 

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Conclusion

In conclusion, Kerala’s cuisine reflects its rich cultural heritage, diverse communities, and abundant natural resources.

From the elaborate Onam Sadhya to the spicy Malabar Biriyani, and the healthy vegetarian dishes, Kerala offers a range of culinary delights that are not just delicious but also nutritious. Using aromatic spices, coconut, and fresh seafood in cooking adds depth and flavour to the dishes, making them unique and unforgettable.

Kerala’s cuisine has gained popularity in India and worldwide, thanks to the efforts of chefs and food enthusiasts who have introduced these dishes to a global audience. Whether you are a food lover, a traveller, or want to explore new flavours and experiences, Kerala’s cuisine offers something for everyone.

In summary, Kerala famous food are a testament to the state’s rich culinary heritage, and they continue to amaze and delight food lovers worldwide. So, if you ever get a chance to visit Kerala, don’t miss the opportunity to try its famous foods and savour the unique flavours and aromas that make Kerala’s cuisine so special.

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