The unusual cuisine of Kerala brings to the fore the culinary expertise of the people of Kerala. Producing some of the tastiest foods on earth, the people of Kerala are gourmets with a difference.
The cuisine is very hot and spicy and offers several gastronomic opportunities. The food is generally fresh, aromatic and flavoured. Keralites are mostly fish-and-rice eating people.
The land and the food are rich with coconut, though one can't imagine Kerala food without chilies, curry leaf, mustard seed, tamarind and asafoetida.
Just a pinchful of tamarind can substitute tomatoes, but there is no real substitute for curry leaf. Since time immemorial, coconut has been an integral part of the cuisine of Kerala.
These people put to good use whatever the land offers and the result is a marvellous cuisine that is simple yet palate tickling. They relish equally a dish as simple as 'kanji' (rice gruel) or as extravagant as the 'sadya' (feast).
Sadya Dish, Kerala
Sadya is the elaborate dish, which is a totally extravagant affair. Avial, an all time favourite, is a happy blend of vegetables, coconut paste and green chillies. Avial's seasoning is a spoonful of fresh coconut oil and a sprinkling of raw curry leaves, stirred in immediately after the dish is taken off the stove.
'Kottucurry' is made out of cubed potatoes, onions and green chillies cooked in coconut milk with plenty of red chilli. 'Olan', a bland dish of pumpkin and red grams is prepared by cooking it in thin gravy of coconut milk.
The rich and irresistible desserts form an essential part of the meals. These are served midway through the meals.
Payasam is a thick fluid dish of brown molasses, coconut milk and spices, garnished with cashewnuts and raisins. There could be a succession of payasams, such as the lentil payasam and the jackfruit payasam, Bengal gram payasam and so on, though 'Adapradhaman', a rich payasam with thin rice wafers, is arguably the ultimate delicacy.
'Palppayasam', made with sugar, ghee and spices, brewed in creamy white milk is regarded as the last word in sweet dishes. This is served with a golden yellow sweet pancake known as 'boli'.
The Tangy Rasam
The hot Rasam, served after a delectable array of sweets, is a tangy deviation from the symphony of tastes and is poured on another serving of rice. The famous British 'Mulligatawny Soup' is said to have derived its flavour from Rasam.
Rasam is a mixture of chilly and pepper corns powders boiled in diluted tamarind juice. The pulissery is seasoned buttermilk with turmeric powder and green chillies. 'Moru' or plain sour buttermilk comes salted and with chopped green chillies and ginger.
Appam Dish, Kerala
Appam is the soft pancake made from toddy fermented rice batter, with a soft spongy middle, which is laced with crispy edges. It is generally consumed with either vegetable or chicken or mutton stew, thoroughly mellowed with thick coconut milk and garnished with curry leaves.
A type of steam cake, 'Puttu' is made from rice flour and steamed in long hollow bamboo or metal cylinders. Depending on the taste preference, Puttu can be had with steamed bananas and sugar or with a spicy curry made from gram or chickpeas.
Tapioca And Fish Curry
A sumptuous, mouthwatering delicacy, it's a not- to- be-missed combination of 'Kappa' and 'Meen curry'. With natural flavours erupting out of it liberally, the fish curry is made with garlic paste, onions and red chillies and seasoned with mustard seeds and curry leaves.