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Kerala Cuisine

The south Indian state of Kerala is admired worldwide for its scenic backwaters, beaches and hill stations. Kerala is also famous for its distinctive cuisine, which is uniquely different from the cuisines in other parts of India. The Cuisine of Kerala is mildly flavored and gently cooked, and characterized by the use of coconut. Kerala cuisine encompasses an interesting combination of vegetables, meats and seafood flavored with a variety of spices, and cooked mostly in coconut milk. The juice of the tender coconut is a favorite drink in every part of Kerala, and it leaves you thoroughly refreshed.

The local cuisine of Kerala is widely favored for being hot and spicy and provides a gastronomical delight for tourists who are willing to experiment. Hence, do make it a point to savor the delectable cuisine of Kerala while on tour to `God's Own Country´.

Kerala being a coastal state, the land is extensively covered with green paddy fields and grows an abundance of spices. Bananas and coconuts are available all through the year and form an integral part of the cuisine of Kerala. The main spices used in the various Kerala dishes include cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, green and red peppers, cloves, garlic, cumin seeds, coriander, turmeric, etc.

The mixed population of Kerala lends a unique character to the cuisines in the different parts of the state. Hindus in Kerala specialize in the preparation of vegetarian cuisine; while the Muslims and Christians excel in an eclectic array of non-vegetarian food preparations like `pathiri' and `kozhi curry´ (chicken), `biriyani´ and fish recipes. Some popular vegetarian items of the cuisine of Kerala are `rasam´, `olan´, `kalan´, `pachadi´, `kichadi´, `avial´, `thoran´, etc.

Rice is the staple diet of the people of Kerala. A typical Kerala breakfast may comprise specialties made from ground rice and pulses that have been steamed or fried in various ways. A popular breakfast item is "Puttu" - a dish of steamed rice powder garnished with coconut and eaten generally with stew, curry, or bananas. Some popular South Indian specialties like `dosas´, `idlis´, `sambhar´ and `uttapam´ also form part of the breakfast cuisine of Kerala.

The main course for lunch and dinner in Kerala may consist of rice, `dal´ - a gravy made of pulses, various seasonal vegetables cooked with coconut and flavored with spices, a seafood curry, and a sweet a desert such as "payasam", to end the meal. `Payasam´ is cooked with milk, coconut extract, sugar, cashews, dry grapes, etc.

Kerala cuisine is also famous for its traditional `sadhyas´ - a vegetarian meal comprising of boiled rice and a number of side-dishes. The cuisine also boasts of a variety of pickles and chutneys, and crunchy `pappadums´, banana chips, jackfruit chips, etc.

Seafood is very popular in Kerala and is served with almost every meal. Mussels are an all time favorite in seafood cuisine of Kerala. Other sea animals consumed include sardines, mackerel, tuna, rays and shark, crabs, and oysters.

The northern parts of Kerala specialize in Malabar Cuisine and the most famous dish of this region is the `Malabar Biryanis´ - a rich rice preparation, cooked with meat, onions, chilies and other spices.

The Syrian Christians, who live in large numbers in districts like Kottayam and Pala, excel in a unique style of cooking.