Money Control

The Myriad Hues of Kerala Cuisine

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The cuisine of Kerala has much to offer to please the palate and with the ongoing Kochi Muziris Biennale, you will experience this first hand.

On a recent visit to Brunton Boatyard in Kochi, I ate a meal at History Fine Dining restaurant. The menu here has 32 cuisines from all the communities who have made Fort Kochi their home. The menu has dishes representing communities like the Arab, Syrian Christian, Jewish, Dutch, British, Persian, Tamil, Gujarati, Konkan and the native Namboothiri and Nair communities. Each of them has been sourced from people in the region and has a story.

For example, like the Railway Mutton Curry, an invention of Fort Kochi’s Anglo-Indian community, and the Chuttuli Meen, a fish dish of the local Jewish community made with pearl onion marination. The dish has now been reinterpreted here with the concept of using mutton shanks instead of just the meat that is slow braised for over five hours in a special brass vessel and served with coconut rice pilaf, spinach and corn masala and a masala chat bread.

Courtesy Kappa Chakka Kandhari
Courtesy Kappa Chakka Kandhari

Surendrean P. M, Executive Chef, Neeleshwar Hermitage shares some thoughts:

Tell us about some of the unique aspects of Kerala cuisine, highlighting differences in the Syrian Christian, Malabar Muslim and Namboodiri Hindus.

Kerala cuisine offer a multitude of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes prepared using fish, poultry and red meat with rice as a typical accompaniment. Chillies, curry leaves, coconut, mustard seeds, turmeric, tamarind and other spices are also used in the preparation. 

Kerala has different variety of food and in south Kerala especially  more Christian dominated area Syriani Christian cuisine is more popular. Syriani Christian food is a special type of cuisine with more inclusion of Kerala based dish in Syriani food style . The main Syriani Christian food includes  Malasa roasted Chicken, Vegetable stew, palappam Beef nirachachu. 

Syriani Christain food contain more spices and spicy level of this food is in comparatively high. 

Malabar Mappila cuisine is mainly based on  non veg dishes . It includes Malabar dum Biriyani, mutton kuruma, meen avamvechathu, kozhi mulakilittathu,  Mutton kuruma

Different varieties of bread like appam, pathiri, pathal,  Neyoathal, Kalathappam, chatti pathari, etc and dessert items like mutta mala, mutta sukka and pazham nirachathu are delicious mappila cousine. 

Generally medium spicy level is the peculiarity of Malabar Mappila cuisine. 

Namboothiri Hindus cuisine is purely vegetarian. This is Kerala’s real traditional food. Namboothi Hindu cuisine is mainly based fruits, milk, coconut milk, vegetable and rice.  Sadya is delicious Namboothiri Hindu dish which contain more than 30 items including main dish and side dishes like Olan, Kalan, Pachadi, Avial, Erissery, Pickle, pappad etc and dessert as palada payasam, ada pradaman etc. 

What are some of the distinctive elements of the cuisine and what are some ingredients that are a must?

Distinctive elements of Kerala cuisine  is coconut, coconut oil, coconut milk , curry leaves and mustard apart from the ingredients like curry powder like chilly, turmeric, coriander  and spices like cinnamon, cardamom, ginger , tamarind, baby icon chilly. 

What are the kinds of masalas/base that are used in the cuisine?

Usually we are using malasa like chilli, turmeric, corriander etc. 

Some unique dishes including desserts that are quintessentially Kerala

There many unique dishes of Kerala and main unique dishes are:

Puttu kadala, papad

Ullitheeyal : A travancore style dish

Beef Fry

Tharavu  ( duck)mappas

Malabar Fish curry

Alleppy Fish curry

Varutharacha Kozhi curry

Thalassery dum biriyani

Fish Kodampuli

Karimeen pollichathu etc

Anything else including some unknown trivia of Kerala cuisine. 

Different types chammandis, various varieties of pickles, inchi puli etc 

Read the full story that first appeared in Money Control here:

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