A typical Kerala feast, referred to as sadya, is spread out temptingly on a clean green banana leaf. And the food is to be eaten with the fingers. Even the dessert, payasam, that tastes like rice pudding, is served on the leafy plate.The culinary efforts of the different communities of Kerala come out in distinctly different dishes of great variety. While Hindus specialise in delicious vegetarian food such as sambar, rasam, olan, kaalan, pachadi, kichadi, aviyal, thoran and so on.
Indian food is often flavored with the non-scalding spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves garlic, cumin, coriander and turmeric. Spices are used in India to tone up the system the way wines aid the digestion of Western Cuisine.
As for the Cuisine of Kerala, it is midly flavored, gently cooked and has a certain genteel delicacy on the stomach. An example is the rich biriyanis of the northern parts of Kerala. The Malabar Biriyanis.
Pulaos, pilaffs and biriyanis are meats spices and onions slowly steam cooked in boiled rice. Malabar biriyani was brought across the Indian Ocean by Arab Seafarers. It should be eaten hot with crispy, crunchy pappads.
A favourite breakfast dish is Pootu. Rice flour dough is lagered with gated coconut and steamed in hollow bamboo cylinder. It is eaten sprinkled with sugar or with mashed bananas or with a spicy curry made of channa or chic peas.
IDDLI & DOSA:
Iddlis or fluffy white steamed cakes and dosas which are thin golden pancakes are popular in Kerala. They are made up of yeasty rice and lentil batter. They are not strictly Malayali Cuisine. They came across from the vegetarian kitchens next door in the State of Tamil Nadu.
Kerala does have its own well developed vegetarian cuisine. If you visit the State during post harvest Onam season lunch with thoran or kaalan or pachadi or olen.
Thorans are gravy-less dishes of finely chopped boiled vegetables and possibly meet and sea food. The mustard seed used in thorans gives them a pleasantly assertive flavour, while the lightly fried grated coconut adds the church.
Avial, on the other hand, is mixed vegetable gravy dish thickened with coconut and yoghurt. Drumsticks, jack fruit seeds and slices of mango are often used.
Olen is also a very gravy dish made of ash gourd and drum beans where the predominant flavor is that of coconut milk. It is a fairly thick liquid squeezed out from the white flesh of a fresh coconut.
Bananas are very popular in Kerala Cuisine. Sliced finely and deep fried as chips, they are chewy snacks. Cut into bits, fried and dipped in jaggerey or sugar syrup, they are sweets. Cooked in thick yoghurt and seasoned with chilly, turmeric cumin seed and curry leaves, they become Kaalan accompainment to the main meal.
Malayalee Pachadi is a fairly thick sauce made of sugar, yoghurt, grated coconut, mustard seed and a wide spectrum range of spices including green and red chillies.
Sambar is a cross between a sauce and a broth. It contains smashed lentils, cooked vegetables and apices including the exotic and edible resin asafetida. For desert, there is the
Pradhman or Payasam, porridge like sweets with a vermicelli of rice base, cooked in milk and sugar or jaggery.
stew:A favorite dish of Syrian Christians residing at Kottayam is stew.Chicken and potatoes are simmered gently in a creamy white sauce flavoured with black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, green chillies, lime juice, shallots and coconut milk.
Appams: The stew is eaten with Appams. Appams Kallappams or Vellayappams are rice flour pancakes which have soft, thick white spongy centres and thin golden crip lace like edge.
Meen vevichathu or fish in fiery red chilly sauce is also another favourite item. Besides the chicken and fish there is also red meat,
erachi orlarthiathu. Beef (or lamb) is boiled with roasted cirruabder seeds, red chilles, cloves, onions, cummins garlic, ginger, fried coconut chips and a little vinegar. Then with the water reduced, the, meat is almost fried dry in a little oil that has been flavoured with sliced shallots and highly aromatic curry leaves.