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The cuisine of Kerala is in all its richness to the history, geography, demography and culture of the land. Because many of Kerala's Hindus are vegetarian by religion, and because Kerala has large minorities of Muslims and Christians that are predominantly non-vegetarian, Kerala cuisine has a multitude of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes.
Like other South-Indian cuisines, Kerala cuisine is predominantly spicy. Coconuts grow in abundance in Kerala, and consequently, grated coconut and coconut milk are widely used in dishes and curries. Kerala's long coastline and strong fishing industry has contributed to many fish-based delicacies, particularly among the Christian community.
Kerala cuisine offers many delicious vegetarian breakfast dishes that are relatively unknown outside the state. These include Puttu (a cylindrical dish made of rice powder and grated coconut) and kadala (a curry made of chana), idli (fluffy rice pancakes) and sambar, dosa and chutney, pidiyan, Idiyappam (string hoppers - also known as Noolputtu), Paal-Appam, a circular, fluffy, crisp-edged pancake made of rice flour fermented with a small amount of toddy or wine, etc. Idiyapam and Paalappam are accompanied by mutton, chicken or vegetable stew or a curry of beef or fish moli (the most common dish is black pomfret in a coconut based sauce).
Lunch and dinner
The staple food of Kerala, like most South-Indian states, is rice. Unlike other states, however, many people in Kerala prefer parboiled rice (rice made nutritious by boiling it with rice husk). Kanji (rice congee), a kind of rice porridge, is also popular. Tapioca, called kappa in Kerala, is popular in central Kerala and in the highlands.
Rice is usually consumed with one or more curries. Accompaniments with rice may include upperis (dry curries), rasam, chips, and/or buttermilk (called moru). Vegetarian dinners usually consist of multiple courses, each involving rice, one main dish (usually sambar, rasam, puli-sherry), and one or more side-dishes. Kerala cooking uses coconut oil almost exclusively.
Popular vegetarian dishes include sambar, aviyal, Kaalan, theeyal, thoran (dry curry), pulisherry (morozhichathu in cochin and malabar), olan, erisherry, puliinji, payaru (mung bean), kappa (tapioca), etc. Vegetarian dishes often consist of fresh spices that are liquefied and crushed to make a paste-like texture to dampen rice.
Common non-vegetarian dishes include stew (using chicken, beef, lamb, or fish), traditional or (naadan-style) chicken curry, fish moli, fried fish (Karimeen porichathu), etc. Biriyani, a Mughal dish, was popularised by the Keyi family in Kerala, consists of rice cooked along with meat, onions, chillies and other spices.
A typical sadya, where banana leaves are used as platesKerala is known for its traditional banquet or sadhya, a vegetarian meal served with boiled rice and a host of side-dishes. The sadhya is complemented by payasam, a sweet milk dessert native to Kerala. The sadhya is, as per custom, served on a banana leaf, and is a formal-style meal with three or more courses of rice with a side-dish (usually sambar, rasam, buttermilk, etc.).
Kerala does not have any indigenous cold desserts, but hot/warm desserts are popular. The most popular example is undoubtedly the payasam: a preparation of milk, coconut extract, sugar, cashews, dry grapes, etc. Payasam can be made with many base constituents, including Paal payasam (rice), Ada payasam (with ada, a flat form of rice), banana, dal, etc. Ada payasam is especially popular during the festival of Onam. Most payasams can also be consumed chilled.
Other popular desserts include Unniappam (a sweet fried ball of flour), pazham-pori (banana slices covered with a fried crust made of sweetened flour), kozhukkatta, etc.
Spices in Kerala Cuisine
The main spices used are cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, green and red peppers, cloves, garlic, cumin seeds, coriander, turmeric, etc.
Pickles and other side-dishes
Kerala cuisine also has a variety of pickles and chutneys, and crunchy pappadums, banana chips, jackfruit chips, kozhalappam, achappam, cheeda, and churuttu
Our User Contributed Dishes
Contributed by:Beena Jose
Rice Powder (3 cup),
Maida (1tb sp),
Molasses [Sarkkarapani] (2tb sp),
Coconut oil (1tb sp),
Molasses [Sarkkara] (1/2 kg),
Water (1/2 litr.),
Coconut (3 nos),
Cardamom powder (1/2 tb sp),
Cashewnuts (50 gms),
Kismis (50 gms),
Ghee (2 tb sp)
In order to make the 'ada' Mix ingredients 1 to 4 in water to enable to get thick drops. Pour the thick drops in plantain leaves and fold the leaves. Bundle four to five folds and boil it for 10 minutes.
Keep the bundle in cold water. Open the fold and drop 'ada' in clean water. Filter the 'ada'. Dilute the Molasses [ Sarkkara] in water and boil the 'ada' in' sarkkarapani' . Prepare the first and second Coconut milk. Add second coconut milk and boil it. Add first coconut milk and cardamom powder and boil it again. Fry the cashew nut and kismas in ghee and add to " Ada Pradhaman".
Contributed by: Laxmi
1)Long grain Rice - 3 cups
2)Cooked rice - 1 cup
3)Coconut milk-1 cup
4)Water- as needed
6)Sugar - 2 tsp
7)Yeast- 1 tsp
8)luke warm water- as needed to dissolve yeast
9)Milk - 1/4 cup
Grind 1 and 2 very well with 3 and enough 4 to make a batter of dripping consistency.Make sure not to make the batter too watery.Put this in a vessel. Now dissolve 7 in a little 8 and mix 6 to this. Add this to the batter and stir it well.Place this in a warm place overnight.In the morning add 5 and 9 and make appams on an appakara.
Contributed by: Leena
240 grams Sugar
240 grams Butter
300 grams Plain flour (maida)
240 grams Currants
240 grams Sultanas
7 grams Spice powder
5 medium Eggs
15 ml Rum
60 grams Minced
Spice Powder: Cinnamon, cloves and Nutmeg.
Cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time beating them in thoroughly. Fold in flour, fruit and peel. Pour into a cake tin lined with greaseproof paper and bake in a moderately hot oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours till cooked.
Cool and cut into squares.
Contributed by: Susanna
Matthi [Sardine] : 1 kg
Large Onion : 1 ½ cup
Green chilly : 8
Ginger : 1 piece
Curry leaves : Required
Coconut oil : 6 tbsp
Salt : Required
Red chilly powder : 1 tbsp
Coriander powder : 3 tsp
Turmeric powder : 1 tsp
Pepper powder : 1 tsp
Fenugreek powder : 1 tsp
Garlic : 10 flakes
Tamarind : one lemon size
Make a fine paste with chilly, coriander, turmeric, pepper fenugreek powders and salt. Adding with sliced garlic and tamarind.
Clean the mathhi [sardine] and marinate
Mix with the paste and keep it for ½ hr. Heat the oil and sauté the sliced onion, green chilly, ginger and curry leaves. Drop the remaining oil in another pan and add the sautéed fine paste. Spread the green chilly, onion slices and curry leaves and place the ‘Mathhi' on it.
Bake it for 15 minutes. Pour the oil on the ‘Mathhi’ while baking.
Contributed by: Manju
Vermicelli - 1 cup
Cashew nuts - handful
Raisins - handful
Water - 3/4cup
Sugar - a cup
Saffron - a pinch
Milk - a cup
Cardamom - two or three pods
Heat the ghee and fry the vermicelli till light brown.
In the meanwhile, boil the water. Add the vermicelli to the boiling water and cover it. Keep stirring occasionally. Once the vermicelli becomes soft , add the sugar and continue to stir. Put the saffron in the milk and dissolve it, add this milk to the vermicelli. Powder the cardamom and add it to the mixture. Then fry the cashew nuts and almonds in ghee and add these. Mix well and boil for about two minutes. Your payasam is ready and can be served hot or cold.
Contributed by: Arun
3-lb. whole chicken, skinned and halved lengthwise
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh ginger or 1 Tbsp. ginger powder
1 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic or 1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. chopped mint leaves (optional)
3 Tbsp. vegetable or corn oil
2 Tbsp. distilled vinegar
2 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. Spice 'n Flavor Tandoori Masala
1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
1 Tbsp. chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves (optional)
1/2 lemon, cut into 4 wedges
1 onion, sliced into thin rings
With a sharp knife make several cuts on the breast, thigh and leg of each chicken half.
In a large bowl mix together ginger, garlic, mint, 2 Tbsp. oil, vinegar and 2 Tbsp. Spice 'n Flavor Tandoori Masala. Blend in yogurt or sour cream and salt to taste. Immerse chicken in marinade and refrigerate, covered, 4 to 6 hours.
Preheat oven to 400 deg. F., Lightly oil a baking tray and on it arrange chicken, breast sides up. Cover chicken with aluminum foil and roast 20 mins.
In a small bowl mix together remaining 1 Tbsp. oil and remaining 1 tsp. Spice 'n Flavor Tandoori Masala. Baste chicken with seasoned oil, reduce the heat to 300 deg. F., and roast chicken, uncovered, 10 to 15 mins. more, or until tender.
Arrange chicken on a serving dish and garnish with coriander leaves, lemon wedges and onion rings.
Serve hot as appetizer, as a main course with salad, rice (steamed or pilaf), Indian naan bread or pita bread, or boiled or steamed vegetables
Contributed by: Dhanoop
3 lbs. skinless bone-in chicken pieces
1/2 cup vegetable, corn or olive oil
3 cups sliced onions
1/4 cup halved cashews (optional)
1/4 cup raisins
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh ginger or 1 Tbsp. ginger powder
2 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic or 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
3 fresh green cayenne or serrano chilies, slit lengthwise (optional)
2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp Spice 'N Flavor Biriyani Masala
1 cup plain yogurt (optional)
1/2 cup chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves (optional)
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves (optional)
3 Tbsp. butter or ghee
3 cups basmati rice, washed and drained
1/2 tsp. saffron (optional)
1/4 cup hot milk or water ( if using saffron)
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved
Rub over chicken pieces 1 Tbsp. Spice 'N Flavor Biriyani Masala and refrigerate, covered, 1 hour.
In a medium pan or pot (non-stick is ideal) heat oil over moderate heat and fry onions, stirring, until golden brown, 5 to 7 mins. Remove onions with a slotted spoon and transfer to paper towels to drain. In same oil fry cashews and raisins, stirring, until lightly browned, 3 to 4 mins., and transfer with slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.
In a bowl mix together remaining 2 Tbsp. Masala, 1/2 fried onions, 1/4 cup water, ginger, garlic and chilies. In a large pan or pot (non-stick is ideal) heat 2 Tbsp. oil, saute mixture, stirring, until liquid has evaporated, about 3 mins.
Add chicken and 1 tsp. salt and saute, stirring, 5 mins. Add 1 cup water and simmer, covered, until chicken is tender, about 15 mins.
Stir in yogurt and 1 Tbsp. each of mint and coriander and simmer 5 mins. Add salt to taste and remove from heat.
In a medium pot (non-stick is ideal) melt butter or heat ghee over moderate heat. Add rice and 1 tsp. salt and saute, stirring, 3 mins.
Add 6 cups water to rice and bring to a boil. reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 6 to 8 mins., or just until water is no longer visible on surface of rice.
Preheat oven to 300 F. Mix saffron with hot milk or water and sprinkle over rice. Remove rice from heat and let stand, covered, 10 mins. to allow rice to steam. Fluff rice with a fork.
Fill a thick-bottomed large casserole dish with alternating layers of rice, remaining fried onions (reserving 1 Tbsp. for garnish), and chicken with gravy. Cover casserole tightly and bake 30 mins.
Garnish casserole with reserved fried onions, remaining mint, coriander, fried cashews, raisins, and eggs.