Kerala is the land of the Kera
tree (coconut palm). In a traditional Kerala menu you will find the overwhelming
presence of coconut and coconut oil. Plantain leaves substitute plates.
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 using hand.
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 specialize in delicious vegetarian
food such as sambar, rasam, olan, kaalan, pachadi, kichadi, aviyal, thoran and so on,
the Muslims and Christians excel in non-vegetarian Cuisine.
The pathiri, a sort of pancake made of rice flour, and biriyani,
which is a mouthwatering dish of rice cooked along with meat, onions,
chilies and other spices are Muslim culinary delights. Christians have
interesting recipes to make an array of fish dishes such as meen pollichathu,
fish molee and so on. Christian cookery specially caters to people with a sweet
tooth - crunchy kuzhalappam, achappam, cheeda, churuttu etc.
A typical Kerala breakfast may be puttu, which is ground rice
and grated coconut steam cooked together, idili and sambar, dosai and chutney,
idiappam (string hoppers), or the most delicious of them all, the appam. Appam is a
kind of pancake made of rice flour fermented with a small amount of toddy (fermented
sap of the coconut palm), which is circular in shape, rather like a flying saucer,
edged with a crisp lacy frill. It is eaten with chicken or vegetable stew. Kanji
(rice gruel) and payaru (green gram), kappa (tapioca) and fish curry are traditional
favorites of Keralites.
Almost every dish prepared in Kerala has coconut and spices
added to it-spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, garlic, cumin, coriander,
turmeric etc. Spices are used in Kerala to tone up the system the way wines aid the digestion
of Western cuisine. The juice of tender coconut - world's safest natural soft drink' -
is a refreshing nutritious thirst quencher. The staple food of the masses is rice. Kerala
cuisine also has a medley of pickles and chutneys. The crunchy pappadams and banana chips can
give French fries a run for their money any day.