Kerala – Its Culinary Delights

Asia | | May 25, 2011 at 12:40 am


If God had paused while creating Kerala then he certainly would have praised Himself for having been so intelligent enough to bring about such beauty in such a small patch of the world. The point is God never looked back after creating Kerala. And the area flourished and bloomed into the beautiful princess that it is today. Set amidst the background of coconut trees and date palms, Kerala is rightly known as God’s own land.

With the ocean waters and the sea salt gurgling into the land of Kerala, the paddy fields seem to dance in joy at seeing the region glow in its own beauty and charm. As is the beauty so is the cuisine here. The cuisine here is related to the geographical, historical and cultural attributes of this beautiful land in India in the continent of Asia – Kerala.

Kerala Cuisine and History

Kerala has been a region that has been frequented by ocean sailors from far off countries like Rome, Greece and many countries in the Arab region. Thus the cuisine here is a mixture of all traditions and cultures. Kerala is a land of coconuts, so it is natural that all food in Kerala is predominantly coconut based. Grated coconut, coconut milk, ground coconut, cut coconut, coconut in all forms the main flavoring ingredient in Kerala cuisine. Besides this, Kerala is an agricultural land with paddy fields growing all over the place. Thus rice is the staple food here and there is the main starch plant tapioca which is very common amongst the locals. Spices like cardamom, cloves, ginger, and cinnamon are used commonly as they are very commonly found here and have been a part of the trade activities with other countries.

Variety in Kerala Cuisine

One specialty of Kerala cuisine is that it does not limit itself to limited vegetables. Bitter gourd, colocasia, yam, ash gourd are vegetables unheard of in other parts of India, but in Kerala are very common ingredients of a full course meal. In North Malabar they make pathiri which is a pancake made of rice. Biryani forms a major menu item in many Kerala households and it is believed that this has taken birth due to its connecting with the Arab lands. Trade with America started the process of potatoes, tomatoes, chili peppers being added in the cuisine. Besides Kerala was earlier a part of the State of Tamil Nadu so the influence of Tamilian cuisine is but natural. So one finds sambar, rasam, idli , dosa in the Kerala Menu too.

The predominant base for Kerala cuisine is lime and tamarind. Besides this dishes made out of tamarind, chilli and ginger called the pulinji and the coconut added mango pulp dish with the curd base called the pulissery is very typically a Kerala dish. When it is mango time, pulissery is very commonly found in every Kerala household.

Breakfast with Kerala

Keralites believe in eating a good breakfast, a sumptuous lunch and a delicious dinner. You go to any Kerala household on a Sunday morning and you are sure to find them munching into Puttu and Kadala. Puttu is a dish  made out of coconut gratings and rice powder. The mixture is put in a special holder and the resultant dish is cylindrical in shape and is steamed later. Kadala is a mixture of spices and black beans with a dash of gravy. Pal appam is another Kerala delicacy where the rice is ground and made into pancakes after fermenting it with toddy. Normally it is consumed by the Christians with a curry made out of mutton or chicken.

Lunch at Kerala

For lunch the Keralites are bound to have Choru or rice, along with sambar and a curry dashed with coconut. Keralites are also famous for having rice porridge called Kanji. This is made out of the red rice that is parboiled and is very nutritious and healthy. Tapioca curry or Cuppa as it is called is also a favorite of the Keralites.

Tapioca baked is also a popular and delicious dish in Kerala. Upperi is taken with this. An upperi is any vegetable that is sautéed and is served normally with rasam, rice and chips. Buttermilk or moru is the cherry on the pie for a good Kerala lunch. Keralites strangely enough use coconut oil for cooking.

Popular Kerala delicacies

Typical Kerala delicacies include sambar, thoran, avail, Kaalan etc. All these dishes are made with curd as the base in some and with coconut milk as the base in others. Stew is another dish popular amongst the non vegetarians. It is usually made out of lamb, fish, beef or chicken. Some people make it with potatoes too. Nadan Kozhi curry or chicken curry is a hot favorite as also the famous meen curry meaning fish curry.

Kerala also has the North Indian influence by way of having rotis in the menu. Roti or paratha is called porotta in Kerala. A typical Kerala lunch is normally served in a banana leaf. Called a Sadhya it starts with payasam or sweet rice boiled in milk to be served in the bottom right corner. Then it is followed with pachadi which is a mixture of raw salad in curd on the top right hand corner. This is then followed with vegetable dishes made out of beans, cabbage, potatoes, gourd, bottle gourd, etc. There would at least be five dishes. And then of course the avial which is the queen of all dishes. This then is followed by the banana chips being served on the left hand corner along with sarakarata upperi which is sweetened banana chips dipped in jiggery. Then the pickles followed by pulinji and the dal vada, and small appams. Then parupu or boiled lentils is served followed by rice, ghee , sambar and rasam. The lunch is topped with curd rice and then buttermilk. It is a rule that the sweet dish is served only after rice with sambar and rice with rasam is had.

There is more to Kerala dishes and Kerala cuisine . The list is endless but the fact remains that there is no food that could as delicious and as tasty. It surely is a major hit in the Asian Cuisine.

My say :

Eat on, dream on, and Come to relish God’s own land – Kerala.

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