The local cuisine of Kerala is a large variety of lesser known delicacies of the most exotic genre. It is markedly different from cuisines from other parts of india, in its emphasis on non-vegetarian culinary and liberal use of a wide variety of spices. It is heavily influenced by the Syrian Christian taste buds. The local saying goes “If thou are in the land of rat snake stew, thou shalt choose the thickest piece”. So do not hesitate to try even more exotic menus like frog legs, donkey stew, crane fry, which can be found in some of the more elaborate local toddy shops.
Some of the popular items are listed below:
Appam – A local bread prepared with fermented rice and coconut dough. It is slightly sweet and is an excellent combination with meat dishes (beef, pork or chicken) or stew.
Kappa – This is the local name for tapioca (a tuber). It is boiled with rock salt and then sauteed with grated coconut, onion, red chilly and curry leaves to make a solid meal commonly eaten with spicy fish or beef curries or roast.
Karimeen – Otherwise known as “Pearl Spot”, this is probably the most exotic freshwater fish of them all. With its rich flavors, it is a culinary delight. Common dishes are “Karimeen Pollichathu” (a Kerala version of grilled fish, prepared with rich spices, wrapped in a banana leaf on burning coal), fry and curry (prepared either in chilly paste with a special kind of tamarind or with coconut milk or paste).
Seafood – The state of Kerala itself is popular for the large varieties of seafood including shrimp, prawn, crab and squid amongst others. It is difficult to find such varieties of spicy and exotic preparations of seafood anywhere else in the world.
Sip tender coconut. Refresh yourself with a sip of cool tender coconut and a scoop of its soft white flesh. Ask your tour guide to arrange for fresh madhura kallu (sweet toddy extracted from the coconut palm) and have it the Kerala way with exotic karimeen pollichathu (coal baked fresh water fish), spicy pickles or kappa (cassava) and fish curry. Optionally, a visit to a toddy shop (locally known as a kallu shappu) can be a good experience. Toddy shops across the state are known to serve excellent spicy seafood, fish and all kinds of meat with matured alcoholic kallu.