If you do get to travel this year despite the pandemic, I encourage you to come to Kerala only to spend a week eating your way across the state. While God’s own country provides a magnificent view that is a visual pleasure, the delicious and diversified cuisine is a culinary delight for the senses. Most of us are familiar with popular dishes like the lethal combo of appam and stew, puttu and kadala, or the breakfast favourite, idiyappam. However, there are stillmany dishes from Kerala that people don’t know of.
Here are a few lips smacking dishes that I encourage you to try when in Kerala.
Chakka Pazham Porichathu
The fancy English term for this is “Jackfruit Fritters”; a tea-time snack made using jackfruit bulbs. It is similar to the pazhampuri, just that the banana is replaced with jackfruit. It tastes fantastic, and the crispness of the cooked batter makes it a delicious snack that you don’t want to stop munching on.
I have recently been introduced to this delicious Kerala dish. This might not be as well known to the rest of the country. Hopefully, it catches on as this dish deserves a page of its own! It is popular in the Malabar region and has become a personal favourite for Iftaar. History suggests that it is a Yemeni dish brought to us by a loyal Malayali chef. Kuzhimanthi is a combination of the words mandi and ‘kuzhy,’ which is the Malayalam term for the deep pit in which this meal must be prepared. Mandi or Manthi is a Yemeni dish of flavoured rice and meat.
This is a delight to eat and pays homage to its Arab roots. In many ways, this fusion dish continues to carry on Kerala’s enriching heritage of West Asian cultural influence.
Kootu Curry, sometimes called Koottukari or kootu kari , is a thick curry prepared with a few vegetables and lentils. This is one of the most popular Kerala dishes and is also one of my favourites. I have had my fair share of this and yet, I don’t seem to be getting enough of it. My favourite part is when amma adds a little jaggery to give it a sweet and savoury flavour. Over the last few years, I’ve made it a point to get home just in time for Onam to enjoy this delicacy.
Also Read: The 26 Dishes That Make Up An Onasadhya
This is a reasonably popular vegetarian Kerala dish that is made with coconut and yoghurt. If you do stay with a Malayali family, you will realise that this is a regular lunch item. In Malayalam, we call it ‘chembu’. It isn’t as popular with the younger generation but is an absolute hit with oldies.
Kozhakatta and I have a long-standing friendship. This is a famous Kerala dessert that is known in the western world as steamed dumplings. It’s a delicious pleasure that you should not pass up. These delicious dumplings filled with jaggery and shredded coconut are heavenly. They are generally served on special occasions.
This is regularly made at home. My entire family is a great fan of curries made with yoghurt. This sour Kerala dish is created with buttermilk and vegetables such as yam and plantain. Coconut, once again, plays a key role in this dish, effectively balancing the sourness of the curd. Curd-based curries have always been a favourite of mine, and this one is at the top of my list.
When in God’s own country, embrace the culture and treat yourself to a big fat Fish Molee. This mouth-watering Kerala dish is made out of the Pearl Spot Fish, which is commonly found in the backwaters of Alleppey. It’s generally made by marinating the fish in lemon juice, fiery red chillies, and a variety of other seasonings before wrapping it in plantain leaves and baking it. It’s flavorful and leaves you wanting more.
During the pandemic, it was almost impossible for me to head home. The border restrictions made me miss the one thing that I always rush back home for – Beef! Our history with beef dishes goes way back. And our love for it has only grown stronger. Beef ularthiyathu is basically roasted beef and is a dish best served spicy. In the past, beef was slow-cooked over an ‘Aduppu’ for over two hours. This dish is most popularly seen in our beloved ‘thattukadas’ in Kerala. It goes brilliantly with Malabar Porotta.
Also Read: 14 Delicacies From 14 Districts Of Kerala
It is a never-ending list of seafood items in Kerala. It is the ultimate paradise for seafood lovers. My earliest memory of kallumakkaya (mussels) was having it from a ‘thattukada’ on a school trip. I was blown away. I was never a huge fan of anything fishy but that was the day everything changed. The mussels are cleaned carefully before being cooked in a sauce with onions, garlic, chillies, turmeric, garam masala, and a generous amount of shredded coconut (who can say no to coconut?!). Although Kallumakkaya Ularthiyathu takes a long time to prepare, it is well worth the wait and will have you licking the curry off your fingertips!
If you know us well, you would know that Malayalis love their payasam and you can tell that from the variety of sweet dishes available in this state. Despite the fact that pumpkin is utilised in a variety of desserts around the country, this adaptable vegetable has long been an underdog. This payasam stands out for its spicy-tangy taste. Once garnished with cashew nuts, it is an undeniably irresistible Kerala dish.
I could go on and on about the different Kerala dishes, but I’m not sure I should because just thinking about it has made me hungry. On any given day, at least one of these dishes will be found in the home of any Malayali.
A piece of advice: make a Malayali friend asap. We’re all over the place!