The incredible diversity and array of flavors found in Kerala cuisine has captivated travelers for a reason! Drawing inspiration from a blend of Malabari, French, and Arabian influences, infused with Kerala’s unique cultural touch, each dish in this state is a captivating experience that will leave you craving for more! From the lavish spread of vegetarian dishes like Sadya, to the tantalizing non-vegetarian options featuring seafood, lamb, and beef, as well as the delectable sweet and savory delicacies, Kerala’s food will take your taste buds on an exhilarating journey. Our compilation of images showcasing the various dishes of Kerala will surely leave you spellbound.
An Introduction to Kerala Cuisine
The culinary traditions of Kerala have been greatly shaped by the history and culture of the region. The cuisine offers a delightful combination of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, with the latter encompassing a wide variety of dishes prepared with fish, poultry, and red meat. Rice, fish, and coconut are the key ingredients that feature prominently in almost all of Kerala’s famous dishes. The flavors are further enriched with the use of ingredients such as chilies, curry leaves, mustard seeds, turmeric, tamarind, black pepper, cardamom, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and asafoetida.
While traditional Kerala cuisine, including the elaborate feast known as Sadya served during festivals and celebrations, primarily consists of vegetarian dishes, the contemporary food scene in the state also includes a wide range of non-vegetarian delicacies. The distinct taste of coconut can be savored in most Kerala dishes, as the practice of incorporating grated coconut and coconut milk for thickening and flavoring is a common cooking technique in India.
So, for those who associate Kerala cuisine solely with idlis and dosas, get ready for a pleasant surprise! Our comprehensive list of Kerala’s culinary offerings, accompanied by captivating images, is bound to capture your attention. Come explore this enchanting coastal paradise and immerse yourself in the finest gastronomic experiences that will make it difficult for you to leave!
Exploring Kerala Cuisine: 21 Iconic Dishes
Here are some of the most renowned dishes that Kerala takes pride in! This compilation features an assortment of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian delicacies that will add excitement to your Kerala itinerary. Take note of these dishes and relish them during your next visit to this mesmerizing state.
1. Idiyappam With Curry
Idiyappam, a beloved staple of Kerala’s cuisine, is relished by locals and visitors alike. Also known as Noolappam, this dish is made from rice flour, water, and salt, intricately woven into thin strands or sevai that lend it a delightful texture. It is this unique texture that makes it versatile, allowing it to be paired with a variety of curries. However, it is best enjoyed with Egg Curry.
Pronounced as: E-di-ap-pam
Recommended Restaurants: Saravana Bhavan, Jasmine Bay
Average Price: INR 80
2. Erissery (Pumpkin And Lentil Stew)
Nish KitchenErissery stands as a renowned delicacy hailing from Kerala, cherished not only by locals but also by travelers visiting the region. This esteemed curry, a staple in every Kerala kitchen, can be prepared using either raw plantains or sliced yams. The process involves simmering mildly sweet pumpkins alongside salt, chillies or pepper, dried lentils, grated coconut, turmeric powder, cumin seeds, and garlic. Once cooked, it graces the dining table atop a mound of fragrant rice. Erissery delights food enthusiasts with its delectable flavors, making it a must-have at various religious festivals such as Onam.
Pronunciation: Er-u-siriRecommended Restaurants: Kashi, MezbanAverage Price: INR 400
3. Puttu And Kadala Curry
Puttu and Kandala curry capture the hearts of Kerala residents, serving as a quintessential representative of the state’s traditional cuisine. Among the many breakfast options available in Kerala, Puttu stands as a prominent choice. This cylindrical steamed rice cake is prepared in a special mold along with grated coconut. For a flavorsome experience, it can be accompanied by ripe bananas, grated coconut, and kadala curry, Kerala’s version of ‘Kala Chana’. Don’t be fooled by its humble appearance; Puttu has the power to enchant taste buds!
Pronunciation: Put-tu and Ka-da-laiRecommended Restaurants: Saravana Bhavan, MezbanAverage Price: INR 70
4. Appam With Ishtu (Stew)
Experience the delightful flavors of Appam with Stew, a traditional Kerala dish that is both scrumptious and appetizing. Made from fermented rice flour, coconut milk, coconut water, and a hint of sugar, Appam takes the form of a thin pancake with crispy edges. These crepe-like bowls reach their peak when paired with Ishtu, a stew inspired by European cuisine. Ishtu is crafted using coconut milk, cinnamon, cloves, shallots, and occasionally mango pieces and vegetables. The enticing blend of fragrant spices and the sweet essence of coconut milk is enough to lure any food lover into the kitchen!
Pronunciation: Ap-pam with I-sh-tewRecommended Restaurants: Villa Maya, Varsha, Ariya NivaasAverage Price: INR 175Tip: While traditionally vegetarian, Appam can also be enjoyed with chicken or lamb.
5. Ela Sadya
The enticing aroma of Ela Sadya, a grand feast comprising numerous traditional Kerala dishes, will make your mouth water. Ela Sadya takes pride of place as the king of Kerala food items! This opulent lunch spread, served on festive occasions such as weddings and religious ceremonies, offers an array of dishes including pachadi, kichadi, pulissery, olan, sambar, varavu, thoran, aviyal, and payasam. Served on a banana leaf alongside steaming hot rice, Ela Sadya can easily rival the colossal thali of Chokhi Dhani.
Remember, when it comes to the essence of Kerala’s culinary wonders, these dishes stand as undeniable favorites that are sure to satisfy food enthusiasts seeking novel flavors!
Spelled as: E-la S-a-dh-yaTop dining destinations: Hotel Bharath, ChakaraAverage cost: INR 500
Suggested Literature: 12 Cultural Celebrations In Kerala To Witness The Diverse Heritage Of God’s Own Country
6. Parippu Curry (Lentil Curry)
Image Courtesy: Yummy O YummyIf you are in pursuit of delectable cuisine to savor in Kerala, then make it a point to savor the delightfully flavorful Parippu curry. Surprisingly enough, it is truly one of the most scrumptious culinary delights of Kerala. The Dal Curry served in Kerala is crafted from petite gram and ghee, infused with an abundance of aromatic spices and fiery chilies. Do not mistake it for your regular home-cooked lentils, as it will undoubtedly leave you disappointed!
Spelled as: Pah-roo-pooTop dining destinations: Padmavilasom Palace, Saravana BhavanAverage cost: INR 95
7. Dosa Ghee Roast With Kerala Style Sambar
Food is a universal language that brings people together, and if you wish to indulge in the finest cuisine in Kerala, then do not miss out on the Dosa Ghee Roast with Kerala Style Sambar that will tantalize your taste buds with exquisite flavors. Ranked among the ‘World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods,’ the combination of dosa and sambar in Kerala cuisine is simply unbeatable! Prepared from fermented rice and lentils, the ghee-roasted dosa is meticulously cooked in pure ghee until it achieves the perfect crispness. It is, undoubtedly, the ultimate culinary masterpiece in Kerala.
Top dining destinations: Jasmine Bay, Aditi RestaurantAverage cost: INR 100
Suggested Literature: Kerala In June: Your Comprehensive Guide To An Idyllic Monsoon Getaway
8. Idli Sambar
How about indulging in some authentic South Indian cuisine while in Kerala? Idli Sambar is definitely one of the finest culinary delights in Kerala, perfect for a scrumptious breakfast and a healthy meal option as well. Widely regarded as the most iconic dish of Kerala, idli sambar is cherished not only in Kerala households but across India. The perfect blend of fermented rice cakes and a tangy curry bursting with aromatic spices and lentils alongside vegetables. Apart from being a favorite among food enthusiasts for its taste, idli sambar is also renowned for its numerous health benefits.
Spelled as: Id-lee S-aa-m-b-aa-rTop dining destinations: Aditi Restaurant, Ginger HouseAverage cost: INR 65Tip: Accompany it with coconut chutney for an explosion of flavors!
9. Spicy Chicken Fry
Looking to add some heat to your taste buds? Then you must experience the fiery delight of spicy chicken fry, a renowned dish from Kerala. Unlike other regions that have a single national dish, Kerala offers a variety of delicious options, and spicy chicken fry is definitely one of them. Prepared with a medley of onion, spices, garlic, and vinegar, this dish is fried to perfection and served on a banana leaf. Often enjoyed with chapattis, Kerala Porotta, appam, or rice, it is also a popular street food accompaniment to dosas. Once you try Nadan Kozhi Varuthathu during your visit to Kerala, you’ll forget all about KFC!
Pronounced as: N-a-d-an C-oz-h-y V-a-ru-th-a-thuBest places to eat: Spice Village, FusionAverage price: INR 775
10. Kerala Style Prawn Curry
If you’re a non-vegetarian in Kerala, then you’re in for a delectable treat by indulging in Karimean Pollichathu. This traditional Kerala dish is a must-try for all prawn enthusiasts! The prawn curry is meticulously seasoned with chili, pepper, salt, and turmeric before being simmered in a fragrant coconut milk and jaggery. As a final touch, it is garnished with curry leaves, creating a dish that truly exemplifies the culinary traditions of Kerala. Savor it piping hot with steaming rice or chapattis, and you’ll feel like you’ve reached gastronomic heaven!
Best places to eat: Adam’s Teashop, Fort House RestaurantAverage price: INR 725
Planning a holiday in Kerala but unsure about what to do? Let these captivating Kerala travel stories inspire your perfect trip!