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Karela Cuisine

A Guide to Kerala's Spicy and Aromatic Cuisine

Kerala is a state in the south-west of India on the Malabar coast.
For thousands of years dating back to 5000 BC, it was an exporter
of spices, and spices remain an important part of its cuisine.

Tourism only became important in Kerala in the late 1980s, but now
the state is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. With
scenery that takes in beaches, mountains and wildlife sanctuaries
including Periyar Tiger Reserve and Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, and
activities like trekking and bird-watching, it is not hard to see why it
attracts over 10 million tourists each year.

What to Expect from Kerala's Cuisine

Kerala boasts a rich cuisine comprising of both vegetarian and meat
dishes. With a 370-mile coastline, it is unsurprising that fish is also
popular, especially in coastal areas. Spices are an essential ingredient
in the cuisine, and some of the most common ingredients include mus-
tard seed, curry leaf, tamarind, chillies, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cori-
ander, turmeric and garlic.

Coconuts are plentiful here, and they are used in many dishes to pro-
vide flavour. The food, which is typically quite simple, is traditionally
served on a banana leaf. Rice and cassava are staple foods, and one
of these is used in most of the main dishes.

Kerala Biryani

Kerala Biryani, also known as Thalassery biryani or Malabar biryani, is
one of the most important dishes in Kerala. Delicious and aromatic, its
main ingredient is usually chicken, but mutton is also common. It is
prepared differently to other varieties of biryani, and it uses Khaima
rice. It is colourful, delicious and a popular favourite.


This seafood dish is a popular snack consisting of fresh stuffed mus-
sels that are steamed then removed from their shells and deep fried. It
is a flavoursome dish that uses curry leaves, rice, garlic, turmeric, chilli
powder and more. It is often served as a side dish.


Puttu is a popular breakfast dish that comprises simple cylinders of
ground rice and grated coconut. Cumin is sometimes used, as well as
other spices, and it can be served with side dishes. For breakfast, it is
typically served with papadum, jackfruit or mango, and it is often
accompanied by sweet coffee.


This is another typical breakfast of Kerala, and it consists of a type of
savoury cake. It is made from steaming batter or rice and lentils, and it
is served alongside various sauces.


Sadya is the most famous main course in Kerala, and it is popular during
special occasions. It consists of a traditional vegetarian banquet complete
with a wide range of dishes, all served together on a banana leaf.

Avial is one of the typical dishes served as part of Sadya. This is a
mixture of coconut and vegetables seasoned with curry leaves, and
typical ingredients include plantain, carrots, yam, cucumber and
beans. Kaalan is also eaten at the Sadya. This is a thick and sour dish
comprising of coconut, yoghurt and plantain. Thoran is a dry dish
eaten with steamed rice, and ingredients include chopped vegetables,
grated coconut, curry leaves and turmeric.

Semiya Payasam

Hot desserts are popular in Kerala, and this is one of them. It is made
from milk, sugar, raisins and cashews, and there are many variations, the
most famous of which is made from milk and semiya, and then sweetened
by molasses. It is popular during festivals.


Herbal teas are popular during meals in this hot and humid part of India.
These are often based on ingredients including ginger, cumin and corian-
der. Sambhram is a type of buttermilk that is diluted and flavoured with
lime leaves, ginger and other spices. Black tea and coffee are also popu-
lar, as is fresh lime juice and other fruit juices.

Discover the Delicious Cuisine of Kerala

Kerala is not just one of the most popular destinations in India: it also
boasts a rich and varied cuisine that will be one of the highlights of your
stay. If you are planning to visit, make sure you try these dishes and many
others to get the most out of your time in Kerala.

At Spices Of India we have everything you need to create your own
Kerala inspired dish, from Tandoori Ovens to herbs and spices you
can browse our great range online and receive free UK delivery on all
orders over £40.