Food Talk – Kerala, India

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One of the best ways to connect with the places that one travels through, is to sample the local cuisine. A meal almost always is the most memorable experience that we have on all our travels. If we think about it, there is a memorable experience both good and bad, associated with food on each of our travels.

Today we look at the state of Kerala in India. The people of Kerala have been sea farers, trading with civilizations of western Asia and Europe. The cuisine of this state has combined these influences to create some of the most lip smacking dishes.

The cuisine of Kerala is characterized by the use of coconut, either chopped or grated and used as garnishing, coconut milk or paste is used to thicken gravies and coconut oil is used for cooking. Being the land of the spice trade, the food here is flavoured with a variety of spices.

Seafood is the main diet in coastal Kerala, whereas vegetables are the main diet on the plains. Meat is served as the main course in tribal and northern Kerala. Dishes range from simple 'kanji' (rice gruel) to extravagant feasts or 'Sadya'.



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Kerala cuisine offers many delicious breakfast dishes that are often relatively unknown outside the state. These include:

Palappam, a 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, chicken or mutton stew. It can be accompanied by fish moli or crab masala or beef roast as well.

Stew is a derivative of the European stew and consists of coconut milk, cinnamon, cloves and shallots, eaten with appams. The stew may also feature mango pieces, vegetables, chicken or lamb. The addition of aromatic whole spices, ginger and fresh coconut milk enhance the natural flavour of the vegetables.

Puttu, a type of steam cake made from rice or wheat flour and steamed in long hollow bamboo or metal cylinders. This can be also made in coconut shell which is called Chiratta puttu. Depending on the taste preference, puttu can be had with steamed bananas and sugar or with a spicy curry like kadala (black channa) curry or cherupayar (green gram) curry and pappadam or egg curry.

Idiyappam is a kind of breakfast dish popular in Kerala. It is also called as Noolappam. Made of rice flour, salt and water, it is one of the simplest breakfasts that can be made. It is served with egg roast, stew or a sea food gravy.

Kallappam also known as Vellayappam in central Kerala is another traditional breakfast dish made of rice flour, coconut and toddy. This is very is soft and good to have with spicy curries. Pathiri is famous dish made of rice flour which is very common in Malabar side. This is like very thin pancake which can be consumed with chicken or mutton curry. Vattayappam is another Kerala's own fermented Steamed Rice Cake which is one of the healthiest traditional snack with almost no oil. Pidis are small rice balls prepared with a mixture of rice powder, grated coconut dipped in a thick sauce based on coconut. Pidi can be served hot with Chicken Curry.

In addition, there are the usual South Indian breakfast favourites like Dosas, Idlies and Upmas.