Must-Try Food in Kerala

Must-Try Food in Kerala

Kerala in South India is well known for its enthralling backwaters, picturesque landscapes, scenic beaches, and delicious delicacies. The multicultural land boasts of an immaculate culinary culture that attracts hordes of tourists. Kerala has its own unique and colorful cuisine so below are listed some of the must-try food in Kerala on your next visit.

Food in Kerala And The Cultural influences

Drawing influence from Islamic culture, French and Portuguese cultures and blending their own flavors into the mix, the food in Kerala is one of a kind. Thus, the food culture incorporates rich vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. 

Mouth-watering seafood, unique Malabar parottas, Sadya, and plentiful other dishes make for Keralite staples that you need to try. The key ingredients include:

  • Rice, coconut
  • Seafood including prawns, crabs, mussels, and fish
  • Spices like ginger, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper 
  • Beef, lamb, and tapioca

Kerala cuisine is flavorsome and savory. Extensive use of curry leaves, red chilies, asafetida, turmeric, mustard seeds, cardamom, cinnamon, and tamarind enriches the flavors and elevates the culinary experience. Milk is also a significant ingredient. 

Authentic delicacy of Kerala at Thoppil Homestay
Traditional vegetarian Kerala food

The traditional Sadya is an important festive meal made on Onam. It includes boiled rice and a plethora of vegetarian courses spread out on a banana leaf. 

The dining costs in Kerala depend on the dish and destination, but it’s mostly an affordable and enjoyable experience. 

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Top Must-Try Food In Kerala [10]

Here is a list of food items you definitely should try on your next trip to the beautiful land of Kerala.


This curry dish is one of the most famous traditional Keralite dishes having Surian Christian roots. It is a unique mutton dish indigenous to Kerala and prepared by frying the spices and grinding them. It’s then mixed in a mutton base with chopped onions and tomatoes. The mutton curry is heavenly delicious and is generally served with Malabar parottas. You will get the best non-veg food in Kerala.

It originates from the Malabar Coast region. Malabar parottas are made from Maida, i.e., plain flour, by kneading the flour with oil/ghee and water, even eggs. The kneaded dough is then rolled into flat circles and roasted with ghee. Malabar parottas have a crumbly, flaky, crisp texture with a tempting sweet, savory flavor.

Tasty Malabar parottas
Tasty Malabar parottas

The combination is an absolute must-try on your visit to God’s own Country, Kerala. It is the perfect dinner for all the non-veg lovers out there.


Idiyappam is a legendary rice dish and is extremely loved in the region. It is made of rice flour with salt and water. The unique texture of the dish is due to the addition of Sevai (thin strands like spaghetti). The dish is also known as Noolappam.

It is a great affordable dish that you need to try when visiting Kerala. It is served with curries and sometimes sambars too, making a delightful combination. But the dish is best suited with egg curry.

Idiyappam with Kadala curry for breakfast
Breakfast with Idiyappam and Kadala curry at Thoppil Homestay Munnar


Appam is the Keralite version of pancakes made of fermented rice flour, little sugar, coconut water, and coconut milk. Traditional Kerala cuisine is often served with curries, stews, and even eaten plain. But the dish is best paired with Ishtu, a stew having European origins. The stew comprises ginger, cinnamon, shallots, coconut milk, and cloves. It is primarily a vegetarian dish, but non-vegetarian variants are also available. This stew may also include vegetables, chicken, mango slices, and lamb.

Coconut milk is responsible for the sweetness and makes the flavor-rich. Appam with Ishtu is an exquisite meal, and you must try it when you get the chance. You will get coconut-rich food in Kerala.

Hoppers for dinner in Sri Lanka
Appam is also a popular Sri Lankan food known as Hoppers


It is another curry dish drawing its roots from Syrian Christian culture. The Kerala-style Fish Molee is a stew prepared with coconut milk in a traditional earthen vessel called Manchatti. Spices like cinnamon, pepper, fresh green chilies, turmeric, and cloves.

The unique flavor of Kocoum or Kudampuli is enchanting. Mainly seer fish or kingfish is used to prepare the dish. The fish is first marinated in oil, red chili powder, turmeric, salt, and lemon juice for 30 minutes and then used in the curry.

If you love seafood, make sure you try this fabulous fish curry dish when in Kerala.

Kerala-style Fish Molee
Kerala-style Fish Molee/Fish curry


Another famous curry dish of Kerala is Erissery, loved extensively by both the locals and the tourists. It is made either out of sliced yams or raw plantains. The ingredients include moderately sweet pumpkins boiled in saltwater, dried lentils, turmeric powder, chilies, pepper, cumin seeds, grated coconut, and garlic. These ingredients are plated on a bed of rice after cooking. Erissery has immense religious importance and is abundantly made on festivals like Onam.

It is a great dish that you should give a shot at during your Kerala visit.


Indian Biryanis are an elite cuisine with rich, authentic flavors that leave you wanting more, and the Kerala biryanis are no different. The Thalassery and Calicut ports are famous for their lip-smacking biryanis in the state.

Biryani refers to a rice dish with flavourful spices and layers of rice and meat. The heavy Arab influence is noticeable in the biryani culture of the region.

Kerala Biryani with flavourful spices
Kerala Biryani with flavourful spices

The Thalassery biryani recipe uses Kaima rice variety which is exclusive, small-grained, fragrant, and thin. Rice is cooked with the right spices and masalas, then arranged in layers in the dish for meat to be stacked upon and mixed. Meat is cooked on low heat after being marinated in oil and spices. It is then layered upon the rice and cooked inside a closed lid for a while.

The container is sealed using some dough. Charcoal or hot coal is then placed over the lid for a smoky flavor. The intense flavors are a total winner and will leave you wanting more.


South India has wide variations of idli and dosa, which are primary breakfast/ brunch meals, and one such idli variety is the Puttu. These are cylindrical steamed idlis made up of rice flour. They are cooked with grated coconut in a mold. They can be served with grated coconuts and bananas but are best suited to Kadala curry. The Kadala curry is a tasty dish made from black chickpeas with spices, shallots, and coconut milk.

Puttu and Kadala Curry make the perfect breakfast snack, so don’t miss out on this delicious treat.

Healthy Keralan Breakfast - Idli with Sambar
Idli (similar to Puttu) with Sambar


Nadan Kozhi Varathatu is a simple and elegant chicken dish with incredible flavors and depth. The spicy and tangy chicken fry is usually served with garlic, spices, vinegar, and onions on a banana leaf. The dish also goes well with rice, roti, paratha, and appam. Nadan Kozhi Varatha is a famous street food item served with dosa all around the state. It is a perfect dish for all spicy food lovers.


Parippu curry or Dal curry is a Keralite take on the North Indian dal curry recipes. It is a beautiful dish with a perfect balance of the chilies and spices in the curry. The aroma and flavors are drool-worthy. It is made from small grams with an affluent amount of chilies and spices. It is made in ghee, and the taste is unique and rich. The dish is often served with rice.

Do not go by the simple name or appearance of the dish as it is one the tastiest item on the menu, and it is your loss if you skip trying it.

Kerala food in Alleppey Houseboat- rice, chicken curry and dal
Kerala-style dal curry and chicken fry served with other dishes


The vast coastline of Kerala allows the land to be highly rich in seafood. Along with coconut and rice, fish make up a staple diet.

Karimeen Pollichathu is one of the most famous traditional fish dishes. Karimeen (Pearl spot fish) is a common speckled fish found in the backwaters.

Delicious Kerala food Karimeen Pollichathu served for lunch at Soma Houseboat
Karimeen Pollichathu served in a houseboat during the Alleppey Backwaters tour

It has Syrian Christian roots but has been painted in the colors of Kerala over time. It is nicely marinated in a blend of red chilies, lemon juice, and other spices. It is then enveloped in plantain leaves and baked. The process imparts a unique and delicious flavor to the cuisine.

It is the perfect dish to enjoy while overlooking the mesmerizing beaches and backwaters of the state.

Bottom Line

Kerala is a rich land with multicultural backdrops reflected in the state’s dinner traditions and habits. The destination is well known for its tasty culinary culture. The menu is so vast it cannot be covered in one go. The desserts are luscious and succulent, banana fritters being the most loved dessert drink. Enjoy your trip to this beautiful location and munch on the best meals there.

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Last update on 2023-09-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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