Part Two of Top Dishes to Try in Kerala, featuring the best curries and snacks from God’s Own Country.
In Part One, we covered some of the mouth-watering breakfasts popular in Kerala, as well Sadhya, the traditional feast of many dishes laid on a large banana leaf. Don’t worry, there’s plenty sensational culinary delights still to list, with curries and snacks yet to come. And as you can imagine from a state nicknamed the Land of Spices, their curries are delicious!
Karimeen is the green chromide (pearl spot) fish found in the Kerala backwaters, and pollichathu refers to the unusual method of cooking wrapped in a green banana leaf. Traditionally a Syrian Christian dish, this is now a proud part of the local cuisine for everyone in the state. The mixtures of spices and coconut paste give the fish a unique but sensational flavour. You can also try the prawn variant, by the name Chemmeen Pollichathu.
Red-coloured fish curry one of the very top dishes to try in Kerala, showcasing a perfect combination of flavour and spice while, like many dishes popular in the state, being rather healthy too! Prepared in clay pots, this dish is also is usually reliable for a beautiful photo too, if you want to instagram while you eat. Often served at lunch, it is a classic accompaniment to kappa, which is steamed or cooked tapioca. The classic flavouring for the curry is tamarind, though in the land of spices there are of course many variations; it’s also worth trying Kerala prawn curries too.
Parotta and Beef Fry
Parotta is a layered flatbread popular all over South India, especially in Tamil Nadu, though said to originate from Malabar. Made with flour, water, oil or ghee, and sometimes egg, it’s most popularly eaten in Kerala with beef fry. The beef curry itself is one of the top dishes to try in Kerala: dark and delicious, it’s spiced with curry leaves plus a variety of other local flavours, and can really knock you off your feet!
Often known as Malabar biryani or Thalassery biryani, the main difference with other versions of the famous dish is the choice of rice: in Kerala they uses small-grained Khaima rice rather than Basmati. The sea port Thalassery was a melting pot of different spice-trading cultures, and it is here that the most famous biryani recipe in the state was created. From just meat, rice, spices, and often a boiled egg, a delicious meal is created!
Now, dessert: Unniyappam are the traditional snack of Kerala, often eaten at festivals and special occasions. Made from rice flour, jaggery, ghee, sugar, and banana, their crispy outside and soft spongy center makes them irresistible. In Malayalam, unni means small and appam is a rice cake, and they are exactly that. Try to go to Kottarakkara Ganapathy Temple, where you can find special unniyappam cooked by the priests according to a secret recipe! With a slightly unique taste, it’s worth the visit; however, if you can find unniyappam in any bakery in Kerala you won’t be disappointed either!
Known locally as Pazhampori, banana fritters are everywhere in Kerala and they make a great evening snack. Coated in oil and fried in “maida” batter, the riper the banana, the juicer the treat. They are addictive, but luckily you can buy them all over the state: in restaurants, roadside carts, trains, and more! You might need the recipe for when you come home, too.
Kerala is a must-see destination thanks to its beaches, backwaters and mountains packed with tea-plantations, not to mention its diversity and history. And, obviously, the food is truly special. If you’re persuaded to visit, join a Rickshaw Challenge, and navigate the region in a wacky tuk tuk race! The Malabar Rampage, passing through Kerala on the way from Trivandrum to Goa, takes place in April 2017. It’ll be a be a week of adventures, laughs, and — of course — you’ll have many chances to eat the top dishes to try in Kerala!