Disclaimer: Originally published in October 2017. It is being republished since it still remains an interesting topic till today.
Pack your bags. We’re going to Kerala… virtually.
Yup, we’re taking the highway to that beautiful coastal state kissed by the Arabian Sea. At least, you are. And if you’re not, you should (once this whole coronavirus crisis is over)!
Take that long deserved vacation and go get yourself rejuvenated in the land of spices. If the prospects of pampering Ayurvedic massages, living in a houseboat in the tranquil backwaters, and exploring the traditional art forms don’t tempt you, then the food will.
If you are a foodie (and I’m assuming that you are because Instagram tells me that everyone is) then go, my friend. Kerala beckons you, and she will not disappoint.
Just leave your cutlery behind though, we don’t believe in using weapons of torture on our food.
So here it is, in no particular order, the top 5 food dishes you have to try when you visit Kerala
1. Kappa and Meen Curry
Kappa and meen curry (tapioca and fish curry) is comfort food. Boiled tapioca chunks are cooked in a paste of grated coconut, onions, green chillies, curry leaves and turmeric powder and roughly mashed to retain texture.
Most people swear by Kerala-style fish curry as the ultimate combination for kappa, but I once had it with a gravy-licious chicken curry at my mom’s sister’s house and now I BEG TO DIFFER.
2. Porotta and Beef Curry
I would not be forgiven if I left out this beauty from my list. First things first – porotta is not paratha. A porotta is created with multiple layers so that the soft, yet crispy texture stands out when eaten. The process is so intricate that you can’t perfect it in a home kitchen.
It is usually made with maida (all-purpose flour), but healthier whole-wheat atta porottas are also available now. The ultimate combination is moist, spicy, stir-fried beef. If I didn’t say that the Malayalees would have killed me and now “certain others” might. There really isn’t another way around this.
3. Kerala Sadhya
Sadhya (meaning banquet in Malayalam) is a variety of dishes served with rice on a banana leaf. A sadhya can have up to 26 kinds of dishes including pickles and fried sides and is topped off with an array of sweet payasam(s) (kheer).
If you see a poor, unfortunate Malayalee, who couldn’t go home for Onam, frantically walking about on Onam day, be assured that he has not had his dose of sadhya.
4. Appam and Stew
Appam is a favourite rice-based breakfast dish in every Malayalee home. Preparation style is similar to making a dosa, the major difference is that the batter is poured into the bowl-shaped appachatti, and then rotated in it. No application of force, just let nature takes its course.
This soft, lacy goodness will almost melt into the steaming, coconut milk-based chicken stew poured onto it. STATUTORY WARNING: Combine it with vegetable stew ONLY if you don’t eat chicken, any other reason will not be validated.
Another authentic Kerala breakfast dish, puttu is a preparation of steamed rice-flour and grated coconut. At the right consistency, the moulded puttu should crumble deliciously between your fingers.
You can choose from several delectable combinations for your puttu like kadala curry (black chana), payaru (green gram) and papadum, or sugary steamed banana if you have a sweet tooth.
Ok, I can’t stick to 5. The internal pressure is way too much (I have a small, yet demanding stomach).
I’m expecting some friends to disown me for making space for pazhampori when there was a long list of deliciousness I could have included (PLEASE try Malabar Dum Biryani), but the heart wants what the heart wants.
Pazhampori, anglicized to “banana fritter”, is the long-lost soul mate to your cup of perfectly brewed tea on a rainy afternoon. Sliced, ripe bananas are dipped into a semi-sweet batter and deep-fried to golden brown perfection – crispy on the outside, soft and warm on the inside (just thinking about it is making me all warm on the inside).
As you might have noticed we take our coconuts very seriously. We swear by them. So, think twice before you tell someone “You Malayalees put too much coconut in your food”
Too much coconut? What is this blasphemy?
All this food talk is making me hungry so I’m going to set out in search of a decent Kerala restaurant in Hyderabad.
Image Credits: Google Images