Kerala Cuisine: 25 Best Dishes To Try When In Kerala

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Kerala cuisine needs to be tried out! It is quite simple. There are so many dishes that might just become a staple in your diet. Some are so easy to cook that you can even try making them at home. Others that you can try out the next time you visit Kerala. Nonetheless, they all taste very unique and has their own little nook on the menu, as well as the taste buds.

Here is a simple menu of what you should try in Kerala cuisine.

Kerala Cuisine Menu

Idiyappam with Curry

Delicious and perfect for a healthy choice of breakfast!

This steamed delicacy is healthy, nutritious and filling. The process of cooking can seem daunting This steamed delicacy is healthy, nutritious and filling. The process of cooking can seem daunting, but it gets easier once you have the hang of it. The first task is to knead the flour into a dough of the right consistency, pressing it through the Idiyappam maker to obtain thin noodle swirls into the greased plate. Thereafter, just steaming it like idlis. Voila, Idiyappam is ready!

You can have it best with Potato curry or Peas curry.


Kerala cuisine: Erissery
Image courtesy: NISH KITCHEN

Pumpkin or Mathanga Erissery as it is known, this dish is found in every Kerala Sadya, be it for weddings or on other occasions like Onam and Vishu.

It’s made with a yellow pumpkin that is spiced with coconut paste and finished with fried coconut.

Even though pumpkin is most commonly used for Erissery, there are other varieties of Erissery made using different vegetables.

Some of the other common Erisseries are Raw banana Erissery called Kaya Erissery, Padavalanga (Snake Gourd) and Parippu (Lentils) Erissery or Chena (Yam) and Vazhakka (Raw Plantain) Erissery.

However, the sweetest of them is definitely the pumpkin-based Erissery.

Puttu and Kadala Curry

Puttu is a cylindrical steamed rice cake. It is cooked with coconut shavings.

A healthy breakfast routine that most Malayalis love. Best served hot and with Kadala Curry as the side dish.

Kadala Curry is a spicy curry made of Kadala – that is, black chickpeas and coconut gravy. It is slight hot due to the red chillies involved in the grind.

However, apart from Kala chana (Black Chickpeas), desi chana (Local Chickpeas) or whole Bengal gram can be used.

Puttu is also sometimes eaten with banana and sugar, especially by small children who can find the curry too spicy.

Appam and Stew

Kerala cuisine: Appam
Image courtesy: Pepper Delight

Another combination loved by most! This dish is served as breakfast or for dinner.

Traditionally made using toddy (naturally alcoholic sap of coconut palm) or Palm wine as it is known, to ferment the rice batter.

The batter is prepared a day before and left to ferment. The batter is then poured over an Appam Chatti (a special vessel like a shallow pan); the chatti is then rotated by hand in a circular fashion and then placed on the heated stove.

After covering with a lid, it gets cooked in about 5 to 7 min.

This is then served with vegetable stew made mostly of potatoes, carrots and beans cooked in coconut milk.

Ela Sadya

Kerala cuisine: Sadhya
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Ela Sadya known as feast over a plantain leaf is the speciality of Kerala Cuisine. The word ‘Ela’ means leaf and ‘Sadya’ means feast. A number of dishes served hot on a plantain leaf is what a sadya is all about. The sadya is the main course for lunch. Rice is served on the bottom – centre part of the leaf and is surrounded by a banana, sarkara upperi, Upperi and papad. Mango pickle, injipuli, lime pickle, thoran, olan, avial, pachadi, kichadi, Erissery, Koottukary and salt placed in order on the rest of the upper half of the leaf. Sadya is eaten by hands.

Once the meal is done, Payasam is served as dessert. Sadya is mostly served during festivals, weddings and all ceremonious occasions.

Parippu Curry

Kerala cuisine: Parippu curry
Image courtesy: Yummy O Yummy

Parippu curry is a must dish at any Ela Sadya or for any Kerala feast. The first served curry is the starter dish at any sadya is Parippu Curry. Served hot on top of rice on a plain, this is to be had before tasting all the other curries on the leaf. Parippu also called lentils, is made from yellow lentils. The curry is served along with ghee and papadom. Parippu or Lentils are finely cooked and seasoned with spices and grated coconut.

Kerala Style Sambar with Dosa

Kerala cuisine: Sambar
Image courtesy: Pepper Delight

Another most common breakfast or dinner item in Kerala is Kerala Style Sambar with Dosa.

This curry is a lentil-based vegetable dish cooked in tamarind and spices, garnished with mustard seeds, red chillies, curry leaves and coriander leaves.

Dosa is a thin pancake or crepe originating from South India, made from a fermented batter predominantly consisting of lentils and rice.

Crispy dosas with Sambar is a popular and yummy dish!

Mambhazha Pulissery (Mango Curry)

Kerala cuisine: Mambazha Pulissery
Image courtesy: Whisk Affair

A traditional curry made during summers, when ripe mangoes are available in plenty!

This seasonal curry is a speciality of Kerala homes.

Prepared using ripe mangoes, coconut and curd, first a thick gravy is prepared which is mildly spiced, sweet and sour in taste using coconut, red chillies and cumin seeds.

Thereafter ripe mangoes are peeled and cooked. Once done, the gravy is mixed with the mangoes along with curd along with jaggery to balance the sweet-sour taste.

Finally, a tempering of coconut oil with mustard seeds, red chillies and curry leaves is added.

Malabar Parotta

Kerala cuisine: Malabar Parotta
Image courtesy: Kunal Kapur

One of the popular south Indian parathas is the layered Parotta (Parrotta is how it is called in Kerala). It is prepared either with maida or plain flour. Known for its crisp and flaky taste with multiple layers of folded and twisted parotta, it is generally served with a spicy coconut-based vegetable kurma recipe. Malabar parotta is generally had during dinner and at times during lunch as it is slightly heavy on the tummy!

Thattu Dosa with curry

Kerala cuisine: Thattu Dosa
Image courtesy: Pachakam

From the streets of Kerala, come the famous thattu dosa.

The name comes from Thattu Kada, which means a street-side eatery and hence their dosa is called Thattu dosa.

The difference between regular dosa and this dosa is that thattu dosa is small in size, feathery and not crispy.

Served with curries like Vegetable Kurma and sometimes with red-chilly chutney.

Most eateries have ‘Thattu Dosa’ as a regular item on the menu on the streets in the evening.

Banana chips

BANANA CHIPS - Cook with Kushi
Image courtesy: Cook with Kushi

Banana chips are an important part of the cuisine of Kerala. It is not just loved by Malayalis, but literally anybody who eats it. Banana chips can be enjoyed as a snack accompanied by tea. It is also a part of ela sadya.

Banana chips can come in different varieties. It could come as it is, or with masala added it or even with a hint of sweetness to it. Banana chips are one of those things that you just can’t stop eating when you begin.

Jackfruit chips

Kerala Jackfruit Chips: Buy home made Tasty and healthy Traditional Indian  Snacks and Savories from Tamil Nadu in USA. — Snackative
Image courtesy: Snackative

Jackfruit chips can be added to the same category as banana chips. Although not the first of the list, it definitely wins a lot of hearts. The chips are delicious! Also, if you happen to not be a big fan of jackfruit because of its smell or the stickiness, these chips will change that for you.

Jackfruit chips can also be added to the list of snacks to have along with some nice steaming chai.


Indian Rose Cookies | Achappam | Video - NISH KITCHEN
Image courtesy: NISH KITCHEN

Achappam is a truly unique dish in Kerala cuisine. It was created by the Syrian Christians and is believed to have been coming from Dutch influence. It is traditionally made during the Christmas season. However, you do get it in bakeries in Kerala all around the year.

Achappam is also known as rose cookies. It is delicate, but crunchy at the same time. The ingredients that go into it are rice flour, coconut milk, sugar and eggs.

Palada payasam

Pink Palada Pradhaman Recipe, Kerala Style Palada Payasam Recipe
Image courtesy: Sharmis Passions

Payasams are a type of sweet delicacy in Kerala cuisine. It is usually had after a hefty lunch meal and often puts you off into a great slumber. There are many variations and types of payasams available and while they all must be tried, the palada payasam is one of the favourites.

Palada payasam is made with ada which is rice flakes. And, of course, milk. The thicker, the better.

Finding palada payasam might get a little tricky, but should not be a problem finding it after a nice sadhya.

Pal payasam

Paal Payasam | MariasMenu
Image courtesy: Marias Menu

Pal payasam is one of the ultimate, original payasam there is. It is pretty much the most adored and one of those things you cannot hate.

Pal payasam is made by simmering rice in milk and sugar slowly. It is pretty simple to make and actually, could be just made at home.

The thing about payasam is that they are usually a part of temple offerings. So, it is of no surprise to know that the Pal Payasam had its origins in a temple.

Ada pradhaman

Ada Pradhaman for Sadya
Image courtesy: Oven Tales

Ada pradhaman is another sweet delicacy in Kerala cuisine. The jaggery in this dish is what makes it very different from the other delicacies made of milk.

The ingredients that make this dish are ada, rice flakes, dried fruits and nuts, coconut milk and the king of it all, jaggery. This one, also, is very much loved and is often paired with other payasam during sadyas.

Sharkara uperi

Sharkara Varatti / Upperi – Spicycookery
Image courtesy: SPICYCOOKERY

Sharkara uperi is also called Sharkara varatti. The word ‘Sharkara’ means jaggery in Malayalam. Obviously, this snack is famous for its usage of jaggery. It is made by covering banana pieces with jaggery syrup.

This food item is usually prepared during the festive season of Onam. Fortunately, not just limited to then. It is available for purchase in packets in local bakeries in Kerala.

It is a really nice, sweet snack to have and becomes a part of the sadhya too. Fits in everywhere!

Kerala prawn curry

Kerala Style Prawns Curry recipe by Anupa Joseph at BetterButter
Image courtesy: better butter

It wouldn’t be Kerala cuisine if there was no seafood!

Kerala prawn curry is definitely one to try. It is also called Chemmeen Curry. This curry is made with prawns (obviously) along with tomato onion gravy. This curry really does hit your taste buds with the spices added to it.

The recipe behind this dish is quite simple to conquer. So, in case you do want to have your own taste of seafood in Kerala cuisine, this is the curry for you.

Naadan beef fry

Kerala Style Beef Fry | Nadan Beef Fry - Nummy Recipes
Image courtesy: Nummy recipes

Can’t go to Kerala and not have this food which is nostalgic for many Malayalis. Nadan beef fry is a dish that is typically referred to as street food/fast food. This much-loved dish goes pretty much hand in hand with parotta and is truly a staple. The speciality of the food comes from the coconut oil used in it.

Also Read: Street Food In Delhi You Need To Try!

The best place to try this dish out is at thattukadas. ‘Thattukada’ is the Malayalam word for a food stall.

Kappa and meen

Kappa Meen Curry | Kappa Fish Curry –
Image courtesy: Pachakam

Nothing screams Kerala like a good plate of Kappa and Meen curry. This is a combination of Kappa, mashed tapioca seasoned with Indian spices and Meen curry, a classic fish gravy cooked in coconut milk. This is a long-time prepared dish and so is a part of many many folk songs too.

Tapioca has been/was the staple food for many Malayalis. This is because of how cheap it is and it is available throughout the year too.

This dish is meant to be devoured so don’t forget to indulge your taste buds with it when you are in Kerala the next time.

Erachi varutharacha curry

Varutharacha Beef Curry | Yummy O Yummy
Image courtesy: Yummy O Yummy

Erachi varutharacha curry is another traditional dish in the Kerala cuisine. It is usually paired with appam or puttu, but of course not limited. This dish is not the easiest to make and people often complain that the most tedious process of making it is the part of roasting the coconut.

The main meat that is used for this curry is beef which is cut into small pieces. Kerala loves beef.

Thalassery biriyani

Chicken Biryani Recipe | Kerala food: Thalassery Chicken Biryani Recipe by  Chef Regi Mathew
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Pretty much each state has its own version of Biriyani and this happens to the Malayali version of it. Like everything other Indian dishes, the Thalassery Biriyani relies on its masalas to make it stand out!

The basic layout for this biriyani is rice, meat (red, white or seafood) along with spices. Thalassery biriyani originates from Thalassery (straightforward) which is a district in the northern part of Kerala. Along with spices, fried onion, sultana raisins and cashew nuts are also added to this delight.

Pazham pori

Kerala Banana Fritters |Pazham Pori | Ethakka Appam - NISH KITCHEN
Imge courtesy: NISH KITCHEN

Bananas are clearly very loved in Kerala. Pazham pori is another snack had with tea, but its not exactly like chips, more like a samosa. Pazham means Banana, in Malayalam, and Pori is fritter.

This banana fritter is an important element in Kerala cuisine. It is prepared by dipping the banana in batter and then into the hot oil. This is such a unique dish because of how crispy the flour makes the outside, but it is gooey and sweet on the inside.

You really cannot stop with one Pazham Pori!

Ulli vada

Ulli Vada Recipe - Onion Vada Recipe - Yummy Tummy
Image courtesy: Yummy Tummy

Ulli vada is also a popular evening snack in many tea stalls across Kerala. Although not particularly a favourite, it is still loved for the crunchiness that it brings. Ulli means onion in Malayalam. So, think of this one like onion rings but not quite.

It is pretty much prepared the same way as Pazham Pori. In this one, it’s sliced onions that go into the batter together and then in the oil, to form a clump together. Tastes great with ketchup!

Ela ada

Ela Ada Recipe: How to Make Ela Ada Recipe | Homemade Ela Ada Recipe
Image courtesy: Times Food

Ela ada is one of those luxurious, unique delicacies in Kerala cuisine that is presented during certain events. It is basically an Indian sweet made of rice flour, with fresh coconut and jaggery filling. Banana leaf covers this flat dumpling and is allowed to steam.

If you have had Kozhukattai or Modak, this might be another variation of it but definitely better! The banana leaf gives it the flavour that it needs.

Give this one a try, because it feels amazing just to remove the banana leaf from it and enjoy the sweetness that the dish serves on your palate.