Kerala, for generations has been a melting pot of cultural influences. Its history has been impacted by the advent of people of different geographical, racial and religious origin. These foreign intrusions have impacted the culture and lifestyle of Kerala making it a mixed bag of these varied influences. Consequently, the cuisine of Kerala largely benefited from these influences.
As Kerala’s history traces a substantial period when it was under the Tamil speaking population, its cuisine reflects a strong Tamil influence. An evidence of this is the still lingering preference for Sambhar, idli and dosa which dominates Kerala cuisine.
Europeans have often frequented the Kerala shorelines throughout the course of its history. As a result, European influence tends to impact its cuisine. This explains the assorted range of bakeries and cake shops that dot the landscape of Kerala cities. Some of the mouth-watering remnants of the colonial era are still to be found in the recipes of cream horns and cakes that are sold in these shops.
The Muslim influence in its cuisine can be proved through the Malabar Biryani or the Thalassery Biryani. It has been mainly influenced by the Muslim rulers of Mysore and Arcot who have left behind their extraordinary heritage in the form of this delectable cuisine. The Kerala Biryani as it is also known (since it is found only in Kerala) has a unique feature which distinguishes it from all other variants of Biryani. Unlike the rest of its brethren, the Thalassery Biryani uses a variety of short grain thin rice known as Kaima or Jeerakasala instead of Basmati rice. The rice tends to give it its unique taste and flavor.
Mealtimes in Kerala are an assorted mix of flavors and spices that tend to make every dish different and evoke a different taste to the senses. Take a look at some of the everyday items that tend to crowd the platter of a Kerala household.
Made with rice and coconut powder steamed together in a cylindrical metal or bamboo holder, the Puttu is a popular breakfast choice. It is served with Sambhar or kadala
Kadala is a curry made with black, garbanzo beans Chana. It is usually served with the Puttu at breakfast.
It is one of the most popular main course meal served at lunch or dinner. It is an assorted preparation of various kinds of vegetarian and lentils eaten with boiled rice. The Sadya is served on a banana leaf. As each individual item, held in a different colour are placed in specific positions on the leaf, it does create an exotic picture. The food is to be had with the hands cupped to act as a spoon and tends to give you a taste of authentic Kerala.
Avial is an important item on the Sadya menu. It is cooked in coconut oil, the indispensable cooking medium used in almost all Kerala cuisines. The curry is a thick mixture of vegetables, curd and coconut. Once done, it is garnished with curry leaves, another important ingredient used in all Kerala dishes.
Largely influenced by the Syrian Christians of Kerala, the stew also forms a very important part of its cuisines. Made with Chicken, Lamb or duck, it is a delicious preparation where potatoes and onions along with the non-vegetarian items simmer in a creamy white sauce seasoned with black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, green chilies, lime juice, shallots and coconut milk.
As heady as its locales, Kerala’s cuisines are another reason to visit the place. Moreover, once you are there, you cannot leave without tasting its unique and amazing cuisines.
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