Planning a weekend getaway to Kerala? From backwaters and beaches to old homes, the state has plenty to see, but we suggest you make a trip just to sample the divine cuisine they’re known for. If you’ve been thinking the sadhyas were the best thing about Kerala food, you’re in for a surprise. Whether it’s a wholesome breakfast, snack or a sumptuous lunch, we’ve picked out ten must-try dishes from the plethora of options that God’s Own Country offers for the foodie in you. Go ahead and try them all!

Puttu And Kadala

Photo: Mullookkaaran

Photo: Mullookkaaran

Apparently named as the world’s best breakfast by National Geographic, this is a staple at most homes in the state. While the soft puttu {steamed cakes made with ground rice and layered with coconut} can be paired with anything from sugar and bananas to cherupayar {green gram and coconut stir fry}, the classic combination would be to pair with it kadala curry {made with black chickpeas}. Healthy and delicious, this makes for a great {not to mention, filling} start to your day.

Best had at: Any of the local breakfast joints. Most restaurants serve puttu with different combinations.

Kappa And Fish Curry

Photo: Ajithsunny96

Photo: Ajithsunny96

No visit to God’s Own Country would be complete without tucking in to a portion of Kappa {tapioca} and Kerala-style fish curry. Prepared with kudampuli {gambooge}, the spicy curry is bound to bowl you over as you mop it up with handfuls of the mushy kappa. Being a dish that’s enjoyed in different avatars, the kappa biryani {made with tapioca and meat} is another variant you can try while you’re there.

Best had at: Toddy shops, without a second thought. This goes well with the rustic ambience of the place and a serving of the toddy!

Beef Fry And Parotta

Nothing quite says comfort food here like this combination. Sauteed with spices, grated coconut and a dash of curry leaves, the beef fry here is inviting enough by itself. Add on a couple of flaky, layered Malabar parottas, and you’ve got yourself a meal that’s just as perfect for lunch or dinner as for an accompaniment with some tipple. We’re already drooling!

Best had at: Roadside vendors or restaurants. It’s quite a popular combo.

Pathiri

Photo: cl3m

Photo: cl3m

Want to try some regional flavours? Described as a mainstay of Mappila cuisine {popular in the Malabar region of the state}, pathiris are thin pancakes made with rice flour. Commonly prepared in Muslim households, the soft pathiris go well with anything from chicken curry to mutton curry. #LBBTip: While you’re at it, don’t forget to try some of the Malabar snacks like Unnakaya {a sweet dish with banana filling} and Kaypola {a banana cake of sorts}.

Best had at: Hotel Sagar, Mavoor Road, Calicut {served in the evening}

Adapradhaman

Whether it’s for Kerala’s popular Onam festival or a special occasion at home, Adapradhaman is a dessert that just takes the celebration up a notch. Rich and creamy, this payasam is made with cooked rice flakes, jaggery and thick coconut milk. While it may seem too heavy for some, it makes for a great treat if you have a sweet tooth.

Best had at: Restaurants during Onam when it is commonly available

Karimeen Pollichathu

Photo: Shobha Elizabeth John

Photo: Shobha Elizabeth John

While the state has quite a lot of seafood dishes to spoil you for choice, a must-try among them would be Karimeen Pollichathu. A Kuttanadan {Allepey} special, this is made with pearl spot, nicely marinated with spices and chillies, and then cooked in a banana leaf {which adds to the flavour}. Squeeze a bit of lime juice before you begin, and you’ve got an iconic Kerala dish to savour!

Best had at: Houseboat trips on the backwaters in Allepey

Thalassery Dum Biryani

Photo: Sreejithk2000

Photo: Sreejithk2000

Considered to be a mix of Mughal and Malabar cuisines, Thalassery Dum Biryani is probably the most famous of biryanis in Kerala. What sets it apart from the usual version would be the use of the small-grained, Kaima or Jeerakasala Rice. Cooked in the traditional dum style, the spices and tender chicken pieces lend the dish an inviting aroma. Often served with date pickle and pappadam {pappad}, it won’t take you long to appreciate the rich flavours of this biryani.

Best had at: Hotel Paris, Logans Road, Thalassery

Pidi And Kozhi Curry

Often overlooked among the numerous specials here, this is one dish that you need to try while in the state, {although it might not be easy finding it in restaurants}. While you can simply dunk the pidis {small rice dumplings} into piquant Kerala-style kozhi {chicken} curry, the rice balls are often cooked in the curry itself or in coconut milk {and paired with the curry}, letting the flavours seep into them. Ah, we could have this all day long!

Best had at: Pappadavada, Kaloor, Kochi

Appam And Stew

Photo: Sudiptorana

Photo: Sudiptorana

The origins of appam may still be a topic of debate, but it is, nevertheless, a top favourite when it comes to Kerala cuisine. While the appam has quite a few variants, we’d pick the fluffy palappams {made with rice flour and coconut}. Crispy on the edges and soft in the middle, these are mostly paired with stews. If the veg stew doesn’t quite cut it for you, pick the meaty chicken or mutton version, and dig in.

Best had at: Any breakfast joint

Pazham Pori

Photo: Rahul Sadagopan

Photo: Rahul Sadagopan

Whether you know it as Pazham Pori or Ethakka Appam, tea time just isn’t the same without a plateful of banana fritters {yes, that’s what they are}. Slightly crispy outside and pleasantly gooey within, the fried snack is an all-time favourite and we aren’t surprised.

Best had at: Local tea shops

Got a favourite Kerala dish that you think should be included? Tell us in the comments below. 

Feature Photo: Samphotography