Malayalam Cuisine: #1 Ultimate Comprehensive Guide

malayalam cuisine

If you find yourself suddenly craving the combined flavors of coconut, fish, rice, and simple to exotic spices, it may be time to push that long-awaited trip to Kerala. You see, food is a big part of Malayalam cuisine, and you can indulge in many choices, whether vegetarian or not. And OMG, just listing out some of the ingredients here makes me want to book a trip to this famous Indian state! So without further ado, let’s begin!

Malayalam Cuisine – A Celebration Of Culture

Traditional Kerala dishes are known for the bursting flavors brought about by historical influences and cultural exchange. It offers diversity, with touches of Portuguese, Dutch, and Arabian culinary techniques. Aside from the balanced flavors, many people seek their dishes for the balanced flavors and to retain healthy quality despite the aromatic spices and top-notch taste.

Over the years, Malayalam cuisine has been gaining the attention of chefs worldwide. More than the taste, brought about by natural flavor enhancers, such as turmeric, black pepper, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, asafoetida, ginger, curry leaves, chilies, tamarind, clove, and cinnamon, they also use a variety of vegetables and lots of healthy add-ons.

What makes most dishes healthy is the use of coconut oil in cooking. They also use coconut milk as a thickener and food flavor. Moreover, the best thing about Kerala cuisine is that it doesn’t lose authenticity, whether you’re having something vegetarian, mostly served during celebratory ceremonies and festivals, or the more contemporary non-vegetarian dishes.

biryani rice with mean and seafood garnished with lemon slices

What Is The Main Cuisine Of Kerala?

When it comes to staple food, the Malayali people always come up with creative ways to whip up something with rice, coconut, and spices, as if they are meant to be always together. The result is a blend of a culinary experience with a distinct flavor that is both comforting and exciting. Thanks to the place’s geography and long coastline, they have a lot of dishes with lobsters, mussels, crabs, prawns, and fish.

Is Keralan Food Spicy?

While spices are a big part of Malayalam cuisine, you can have spicy or extra-spicy dishes, sweet foods, and many other meals in between. The locals use rice, vegetables, and coconuts in almost every meal. You will find here nearly all kinds of curry dishes, including beef curry, fish curry, Kadala curry, traditional prawn curry, egg curry, and more.

If you are not a spicy person and want to try something on the sweet side instead, make sure you have a feast of their rice and milk pudding called “Payasam.” Or you can ask for Malayalam sweets for dessert, which are often made from coconut, rice flour, and jaggery.

kerala food egg curry served in a bowl

Malayalam Dishes To Try

When in Kerala, make sure you indulge in the foods they are most known for. There are a lot, but here are some of the best to get you started on your food quest while visiting the famous Indian state:

Mussel Stir Fry (Kallumakkaya Ularthiyathu)

After cleaning the seashells thoroughly, they are cooked in grated coconut and spices, such as turmeric, shallots, garam masala, chilies, and shallot. The dish takes a while to prepare but is definitely worth the wait.

Kerala Style Beef (Nadan Beef)

It’s a melt-in-the-mouth beef dish cooked in gravy or roasted. It’s served hot with Kaima rice, Porotta, or chapatti.

Spicy Chicken Fry (Nadan Kozhi Varuthathu)

If it’s spiciness you’re craving, then you won’t be disappointed with this Kerala food. It is loaded with spices and served on a banana leaf, topped with vinegar, onion, and garlic. It goes well with rice, or you can have it with Porotta or chappatis.

Kerala Style Fish Molee

This Kerala food is considered among the favorites in the state. It’s a must-have not only for the fish but for the perfect combination of kokum and coconut in its sauce.

Fried Ground Mutton Curry (Erachi Varutharacha Curry)

You can easily find this dish on the menu of many restaurants in Kerala. It’s traditionally a Syrian Christian delicacy, now among the most popular with the locals and tourists. The dish that was once only enjoyed by Syrian Christians combines mutton, tomatoes, onions, and loads of ground and fried spices.

Banana Fritters (Ethakka Appam)

Juicy banana fritters are simple snacks made from ripe bananas coated with plain flour and deep-fried until golden brown and crispy. They have a sweet yet savory taste and are considered a traditional tea-time snack by many. This Kerala food is perfect with coffee, tea, or ice-cold lemon juice.

Biryani Rice Varieties

The rice dish cooked with spices has quite a following in Kerala, coming in different flavors and varieties, including Malabar biryani and Thalassery biryani. You can get it with different kinds of meat or seafood, making each meal not only delicious but sumptuous.

coconut milk from fresh coconut

Popular Cooking Techniques

Cooking and preparing food in Kerala contribute a lot to the flavors of the dishes the region is known for. The two most highly commended cooking techniques used in Kerala cuisine are:

  • Coconut milk = Locals add the milk extracted from grated coconut, adding a subtle sweetness to foods and a creamy texture to sauces and curries.
  • Puttu = This is a staple breakfast item in Kerala, a cylindrical steamed rice cake. It is made of rice, grated coconut, and flour.

What makes Kerala cuisine special is that it has attained to keep the authenticity that has been loved through generations. Many families in the region ensure that their age-old recipes are passed down to keep the heritage alive.

Learn Malayalam Before Booking A Trip

The language in Kerala is as colorful as its cuisine. To enjoy your stay, make sure you have packed some Malayalam words and phrases so you will know what to say when praising your local cook. This is now made easier with the advent of applications like Ling. It’s a language translator and tutor that allows you to learn the language while having fun. It’s available on both the Play Store and App Store. Meanwhile, if you want to know about the dishes in other places you plan to visit, you can check our list of must-try Chinese cuisine and delicious Korean meals.

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