11 Top Kerala Dishes to Try on Your Next Trip

Food, flavour and festivities, that's what Kerala is all about in essence. The land of coconuts, backwaters and deliciously smacking food, a trip to the State down under would not be complete without sampling some of the finest cuisines it has to offer.

Kerala is known as God's own country for a reason. The lush green trees, the local delicacies, the cool sea breeze and coming to food, Kerala has quite an interesting palette and if there's one dominant flavour it's of coconut. Every dish of this state is made from spices and herbs fresh out of the gardens, making it one of the tastiest cuisines to have from South India.

You can experience Kerala's culture through its gastronomic delights. Either for vegetarians or non-vegetarians, the food options are many and the taste will be really good. Here is a list of things that you must try when in Kerala. Even on the roadside, Appams, idiyappam, bajjis, and other snacks are worth tasting!

Sadya is a not to miss specialty and so are the pal payasams and other sweets. The state is known to serve the freshest seafood in the country. Savor a meal served on a green banana leaf, along with refreshing palm wine. Other must-try items are appam with stew, ghee roast dosa with sambhar and Karimeen Pollicahthu.

Kerala is renowned for spices. Spices are nothing but taste enhancers used in food by the cooks while preparing different meals. Every spice has a different use. If you have always wanted to experience the famous cuisines of Kerala, this may be the perfect opportunity. You can visit different coffee shops in Kerala dotting the areas.

Why not experiment with your taste buds when there is no dearth of options! You can try local cuisines, choose from an array of cafes and restaurants. You walk into any home or restaurant and ask for water, you will be served Pink/Red water. Its called Pathimugam (Sapanwood soaked in water).

Kerala Dishes to Try on Your Next Trip

Plan your next trip to God's Own Country and don't miss out on any of the delectable array of mouthwatering food dishes in Kerala.

1. Puttu & Kadala Curry

One of the most preferred breakfast options for every Malayali, puttu or steamed rice cakes are also one of the healthiest foods in Kerala. Usually available in a cylindrical form, puttu can be made from a variety of rice, wheat and even ragi. The best pairing for puttu would undoubtedly be kadala curry or chickpeas curry. Steaming hot puttu can also be enjoyed with another fan favourite combo of fresh ripe bananas.

Puttu is a cylindrical steamed rice cake topped with grated coconut. It is the most popular breakfast dish and is usually served with kadala curry.

2. Appam & Stew

Coming a close second in the category of breakfast items is appam and stew. Soft and fluffy in the centre and paper thin around the edges, appam is hands down the most addictive dish from Kerala. Appam is often had with creamy coconuty stew. Appam or hoppers are fluffy crepes made from fermented rice flour, coconut milk, coconut water, and a pinch of sugar. Appam’s most popular combination would be with stew or ishtu as it is locally known.

Stew, made from coconut milk, cinnamon, cloves and shallots and vegetables can be found in a variety of forms - veg, mutton, beef, any of which would be a treat with fresh appam hot off the stove. You will lose count of the number of appams you are eating. They just melt in your mouth.

3. Kappa & Fish Curry

No true blue Malayali can live without kappa and fish curry. Pop into the nearby toddy shop, and order yourself the Kappa and meen curry. It's a well spiced fish curry served with some boiled Cassava/tapioca roots (the kappa). Dip the soft boiled Kappa into this spicy red fish curry and sluurpp, enjoy the dish like a local!

Kappa is essentially tapioca or cassava, cooked with salt and turmeric and mashed to form a semi-chunky consistency. A side of fish curry, the catch of the day, can be a blissful bite of heaven on a cold, rainy day. Kappa and fish curry combo is usually eaten during lunch or dinner and is one of the most popular and in-demand dishes in any Malayali household.

4. Karimeen Pollichathu

A Malayali's love for fish curry is the stuff legends are made of. No not really, but if you want to try everything the sea has to offer, you need to visit Kerala ASAP. Of all the varieties of fish dishes, Karimeen pollichathu has a separate fanbase for a reason.

Found predominantly in Alappuzha, the Karimeen or Pearl Spot Fish, is marinated in a blend of spices, wrapped in a plantain leaf and baked to perfection. Flavoursome and delicious, it is one of the must try dishes for when you are in Kerala.

Fish pollichathu is made from cooking a fish in local spices all wrapped together inside a banana leaf. The fish is steamed with all the local spices and the banana leaf lets the bonus flavours and nutrients infuse into the fish. Do not miss this dish if you love seafood.

5. Thalassery Biriyani

Kerala finds a place in India’s rich biriyani repository with the fragrant and flavourful Thalassery Biriyani. Thalassery Biriyani, as the name suggests, is a specialty of Thalassery, Kannur, and is best heard from the region. Made with Kaima rice, marinated meat, spices and dried nuts, the Thalassery Biriyani can be enjoyed with a side of curd/raita, lemon pickle and papad.

6. Porotta & Beef Fry

There is a special place for porotta & beef fry in Kerala. Ask any Malayali around the world what they love about Kerala cuisine and pat comes the reply - porotta and beef fry. Such is the love and adoration for this combination that you have to add it to your bucket list for Kerala. experience how it feels to be a Malayali by gorging on flaky and soft porotta with crispy, spicy and tasty beef dry fry topped with curry leaves.

7. Sadya

Sadhya is a traditional meal served on a banana leaf with around 20 dishes. Though this is a speciality made during the local festival of Onam, most restaurants offer this meal round the year. It usually has chor, avial, pappadam, a sweet tamarind-ginger pickle and many other interesting vegetarian dishes.

A trip to Kerala would be amiss if you do not get a chance to try the famous Kerala sadya. Having a sadya is a treat in itself. Prepared on prominent occasions like weddings, festivals and other celebrations, a typical Kerala sadya features 15-20 dishes, served on a huge plantain leaf, separated by different courses, all together aimed to hit all your flavour palettes.

8. Palada Payasam

Payasam or Kerala style kheer is different from its North Indian in a variety of ways. One of the most popular and favourite payasam that you definitely should try would be the palada payasam. Who knew a simple combination of rice ada, milk, sugar, and ghee could deliver such a lip smacking dish, that has won hearts around the world. Taste authentic palada payasam on your next trip to Kerala to make the trip worth every penny!

9. Pazham Pori

One of the most favoured team time bite would be banana fritters or as it is lovingly called pazhampori in Kerala. Sliced ethakaya bananas are dipped in flour and deep fried in oil is what a pazhampori is all about. Banana chips, made from raw banana, fried in coconut oil is available in almost every corner of the street. Pack a few packets to get home so that your trip memory can linger on for longer.

10. Idiyappam

Idiyappam is made from rice flour and goes well with stew, egg curry or sambar. It's like one fluffy disk of thin threads bound together and almost tastes like idly.

11. Toddy

Last but not the least, indulge yourself in the exotic fermented tender coconut/palm drink, toddy or kallu. Containing a small percentage of alcohol, toddy is a slightly sweet, all natural drink that is enjoyed by all with equal fervour. Although toddy can be an acquired taste, make sure you try it on your trip to Kerala in 2022, to make your travel experience well rounded and fun.

On your next visit to Kerala, you must try this food and dishes. They are not just yummy but authentic too. Whether you are staying in five-star hotels or budget resorts, you will get these food items. It doesn’t matter if you are looking for resorts in Wayanad or luxury hotels in Kochi, you can enjoy most of the above-mentioned food items at reasonable rates.

Kalyan Panja