Kerala Cuisine

Kerala’s cusine is characterised by the use of ingredients extensively grown on its fertile lands along the coconut- fringed beaches, around the back waters and on the slopes of the Western Ghats. The back waters and the rivers feed the fertile lands where rice is grown in abundance. Aarboiled rice is the staple food of the Malayalees. Being a rice growing region, keralites are known to prepare varieties with rice flour and beaten rice. Tapioca a rood rich in carbohydrate, is another speciality of Kerala.

The coast and backwaters also around with the swaying coconut trees, some that droop low over the waters or those that grow high into the monsoon clouds. The coconut is a common denominator in most Kerala dishes and the kernel gets into the food in many forms, be it grated or as coconut milk. The unique flavour that emanates from the spread on the plantain leaf is that of the cooking medium. It is the coconut oil. Every Kerala kitchen worth its salt uses coconut oil in its delicacies.

Another plant extensively grown and whose almost every part goes into a kerala meal is the banana. The leaf that you eat from bears the raw plantain curry or the ripe cooked fruit that is had with ‘puttu’, or the raw slices that go into the avail. Its flowers and the fibrous stem make up delicious curries. The Nendrapazham (banana variety) is unique to the region where from raw banana to the ripe, scores of dishes are made beginning fom ‘pacha kai kootu’ (raw banana preparation) to ‘pazham porichedu’ which is ripe banana mixed in gram flour or white flour and deep fried. The banana chips are a brand of the state.

Kerala food is generally mild through the region is known for its spices grown on the Western Ghats. The cardamom, grown in abundance on the Cardamom Hills, the cinnamon, cloves, pepper and ginger are exported and also form the chief ingredients of most kerala dishes. The presence of spices in Kerala food is not overbearing because of the liberal use of coconut which mellows the pungency.

The small state surprisingly has a variety of cusine in its different parts. The Malabar region in the north which has a large Musilim population is particularly famous for its biriyanis and the southern part which is the Travancore region is known for its Syrian Christian specialities. The vegetarian dishes are common all over the state.

The Christian and muslim meals are spicier than Hindu dishes. Hey have a sharp pungency that is heightened with the use of tamarind and kandari mulagu while coconut gives it its richness, absorbing some of the tongue teasing pepper hot flavours.

The sea and the backwaters are sources of another famous aspect of Kerala food, fish. The famous red fish curry with most of the spices and coconut milk is as delicious as it appears when poured over a large mound of white rice.

The land’s principal breakfast dishes are the puttu, which is savoured with either kadla or with banana the appams and idiyappam. Idlis and dosas with sambar and fresh coconut chutney are also popular. The appams are fluffy and have lacy, crisp edges. Then there are pal appams, which are rice idlis mixed in coconut milk, a pinch of yeast and steamed in idli containers.

A typical meal for vegetarians in the region includes the famous parboiled rice, masala curry, which go with a couple of fresh coconut curries made of either banana, bitter ground string beans , olan, kalan, pulishery papadams chips like jackfruit, tapioca or plantain, all deep fried in coconut oil. But in the case of the Palghat Brahmins, masala curry is replaced with sambhar along with the indispensable rasam with coconut based curries, the remaining items being the same.

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