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Food of Kerala

Planning a trip to Kerala? Our sampling of the most appetizing Kerala food.

Cooking in Kerala is all about spices, aromas and textures. The cuisine is rather spicy and offers a large platter of opportunities for vegetarians as well as non-vegetarians. Generally, meat based dishes are all very spicy while vegetarian food is comparatively milder on the tongue. Keralan food is traditionally served on a clean green banana leaf and eaten with one's fingers. Coconuts grow all over the coastline of Kerala and consequently, coconut shells, grated coconut shavings and coconut milk are commonly used in dishes for thickening and flavoring. The long coastline, numerous rivers and inland tributaries have resulted in a strong fishing industry that supports the seafood obsession that most Keralites display. Boiled rice is a staple dish and is eaten with all sorts of gravies and curried accompaniments.


Food of Kerala: Dosa
Photograph by user ideowl

The staple accompaniment to most other main course dishes, a Dosa is technically a crepe or a pancake made from rice batter. The Kerala Dosa is slightly different from dosas found in other Southern Indian regions; it is smaller, thicker, softer and spongier. It is served with wet or dry chutneys and sambhar (spicy lentil soup)


Rasam is a clear lentil soup flavoured with tamarind, lemon, tomato, lentils and pepper. It is usually very spicy and very thin in consistency and therefore had as an accompaniment with rice.


Photograph by user vivek raj

Appams are bowl-shaped thin pancakes made from fermented rice flour. They derive their shape from the small Appachatti in which they are cooked. Appams are fairly bland to taste and are usually eaten as an accompaniment with a spicy curry or a dry dish.

Kanji (Rice Gruel)

A thick porridge made of over-boiled rice, that has turned to mush, Kanji is most often accompanied by green lentils or chutney. Kanji may be made sweet (with sugar or jaggery boiled in) or salted and spiced, depending on preferences. Kanji is simple, yummy and incredibly light on the tummy!

Kerala Fish Curry

Kerala Fish Curry
Photograph by user om prasad

The most popular dish in Kerala, Fish Curry is fresh fish marinated in spices and cooked in coconut and tamarind gravy. The flavour of the curry varies depending on which part of Kerala you are traveling to!

Masala Fried Prawns

A Keralan delicacy, Masala Fried Prawns are jumbo prawns curried in fresh coconut milk and spiced with green chillies, ginger and curry leaves. A must try for the brave of palate and strong of stomach!


Photograph by user annakika

Jaggery is the sweetener of choice in most Keralan sweets. It can be boiled and made into paste form or used as a sweet sauce with curd or fruit. Rice stewed in milk and sweetened with jaggery and coconut shavings, and vermicelli sweetened with jaggery are commonly eaten as sweets at festivals or at the end of meals on special occasions.

Street Food

Street Food
Photograph by user rahul sadagopan

Banana Chips, Tapioca Chips, Idlis (rice cakes) and Vadas (flying saucer shaped and made of dal, lentils or gram flour) are popularly eaten on the streets as fast food.

Coconut Toddy

Coconut water from a green coconut is poured into a hollow piece of bamboo and left to ferment in the sun for a while. After a day or so, an extremely strong alcoholic beverage known as coconut toddy is extracted. We hope you have the head to handle it!

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