The history and culture of Kerala greatly influence the staple foods and the cuisine of the state. Rice, fish, and coconut are the main components of most of the staple dishes, if not all of them. Most people have this misconception that Kerala food is all about idlis and dosas. If you believe so, then you are in for a surprise. Kerala food is incomplete without the herbs and spices that are used to enhance the flavors of the dishes. Some of the most popular ones are chilies, curry leaves, cardamom, clove, cinnamon and asafoetida. You will also be able to identify the taste of coconut in almost all the dishes, as blending grated coconut and its milk in the dishes for thickening and flavoring is a common culinary practice in the state.
Also known as Noolappam, and pronounced as E-di-ap-pam, it is a popular dish in Kerala, made of rice flour, salt and water with a number of strands interwoven to give it a lovely texture. It is the texture that makes this dish stand out from the rest. It can be served with all kinds of curries but is usually served with egg curry. Some of the best places to eat this dish for a reasonable price are Jasmine Bay and Saravana Bhawan.
A popular choice for breakfast in Kerala, Puttu is a cylindrical shaped, rice cake that is cooked in a mold with grated coconut. It is usually served with bananas, 'Kadala' curry and coconut. Don’t let the appearance fool you. This simple looking dish is very flavorsome. Some of the best places to eat this dish are Saravana Bhawan and Mezban.
Widely recognized as the King of Kerala food items, Ela Sadya is a variety of pure vegetarian items traditionally served on a banana leaf. It is most commonly prepared during religious ceremonies. You won’t find it cheap anywhere, but it sure will be worth the money with various items such as Khichadi, Varavu, Olan, Sambar, Aviyal and many others served on a banana leaf.
Perhaps the most popular dish of Kerala, Idli is widely eaten by everyone all around the nation. It is not only famous for the immensely tasty and perfectly fermented rice cakes and curry with spices, but is also equally famous for its health benefits.
Pronounced as N-a-d-an C-oz-hy V-a-ru-tha-thu, this is another popular dish in Kerala. Nadan Kozhi Varuthathu, in layman’s language, is fried chicken made with a lot of spices. Fried chicken, which is sure to give KFC a run for its money. You can choose to have it with chapatis or Kerala Porotta.
A must-try for all the seafood lovers, it is prepared with a lot of chili and pepper and is cooked in coconut milk and jaggery, giving it an unusual but a flavourful. In fact, trying exotic seafood which isn’t easily available elsewhere is one of the many things to do in Kerala. You may not find this cheap, but if you want the best of Kerala with seafood being among your liking, this is the dish to go for.
We’ve saved the best for last. This dish is a normal dosa, another staple in the Kerala cuisine, but with a twist. Made from fermented rice and lentils, the ghee roast dosa is cooked in ghee and then roasted till it gets crisp. This is a people’s favorite and it is arguably the best dish in the Kerala district. The Kerala style Sambar makes the dish all the better with its rich taste of coconut and vegetables.