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    Kerala Cuisines

• Lunch   • Snacks   • Dinner   • Cuisine

Kerala stands apart among other Indian tourist destinations because of Cuisine its delicious cuisine. The enticing dishes that are typical preparations of Malayalees lured not only foreigners, but have also captured the hearts and taste buds of many an Indian community. Many Malayalee dishes have found a permanent spot in the menu cards of well-known restaurants and fast food chains.

Kerala, home of the 'Kera' tree (coconut palm), has different products made out of coconut. Coconut oil is the predominant ingredient in its culinary chart. There are many different varieties to prepare each of the lip-smacking dishes, each using different bases. The typical Malayalee feast, the sumptuous sadya, has several items lined up on the neatly spread banana leaf (that traditionally serves as the plate) and is a pleasant treat to the taste buds.

:::::::::: Breakfast ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::


The main dish Puttu is ground rice and grated coconut steam cooked together.

CuisineKadala curry is Bengal gram deliciously cooked in a finely ground paste of fried coconut.

Appam and vegetable stew/chicken curry

Appam is a kind of pancake, made of rice flour fermented with a small amount of toddy (fermented sap of the coconut palm), which is circular in shape, rather like a flying saucer, edged with a crisp lacy frill.

Chunky pieces of vegetables or meat cooked in lavish portions of coconut milk constitute what is normally referred to as stew.

Idiappam and stew

Idiappam the main dish is string hoppers, rice flour pressed out in the form of noodles and cooked in steam.

Idli sambar/Chutney

Idlis are slightly sour cakes made from a fermented mixture or rice and black gram.

They are usually eaten with sambar, a gravy rich in spices and boiled pieces of vegetables; or chutney, a hot/ sour paste made from ground coconut. Cuisine

Dosa Chutney

Dosa is a thin layer of a fermented mixture or rice and black gram cooked over a hotplate.

Pathiri and Chicken curry

Pathiri, like appam is a delicacy among the breakfast items. It is a think pancake very skillfully prepared from dough prepared from rice powder.

Parota and Chicken curry

Parotta is a flaky layered pancake made from dough and makes a rather heavy breakfast.

::::::: Lunch :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

In most households, lunch consists of rice served with Upperi/ thoran (a tasty preparation with vegetables or pulses and grated coconut) and other different side dishes like sambar, rasam (a light gravy with tamarind and tomato extracts), olan (thin slices of melon and pulses cooked in coconut milk), kaalan (vegetable cooked in a paste of lavish portions of grated coconut), pachadi (melon like vegetables cooked in curd), aviyal (a variety vegetables cooked in curd and grated coconut).


Kichadi is a relatively simple dish made by steam cooking rice and gram (usually, bits of green gram) together. It can be considered a meal by itself. By adding sugar, instead of salt, in the dish, it can be served as a sweet. Kichadi is a preparation rich in protein content.

Kanji and Payaru (green gram)

Kanji (kanhi) is a simple porridge or rice gruel. The grated coconut mixed in a bowl of hot 'kanji' adds to the taste. Different types of kanji are prepared from the many varieties of rice available in Kerala. Nelloothari or Podiyari variety is made from rice that is ground to very small bits, and it is a specialty.

Payaru is the chief dish served along with kanji. Green gram is cooked along with shredded or grated coconut to form a dry but tasty dish.

Kappa (Tapioca) and fish curry

Chunks of tapioca are steam cooked and later mixed with red chilly and mustard and the dish nearly melts away in one's mouth.

The special fish curry served as side dish with kappa is a tangy dish in which tamarind is a main ingredient.



A mouthwatering dish made using a special variety of rice, Biriyani is probably the most popular choice on the lunch and dinner menu. Fried rice is cooked for long hours along with meat, onions, chilies and several spices. This scrumptious dish is a meal all by itself. Apart from meat (chicken, beef, mutton), mussels and fish are also used in biriyani.

Karimeen fry

An appetizing dish prepared from Karimeen (carp), a fresh water fish. Karimeen marinated in a paste of chilly powder, salt and turmeric is a deep fried delicacy.

Prawn fry

Dishes prepared from prawns are relatively costlier. Cleaned prawns are first cooked, then lightly fried and then cooked along with chopped onion and masala resulting in a spicy mouth watering dish. Tiger prawns are the most popular of the many varieties of prawns available.

Rice and Fish Curry

Rice would also be eaten with fish curry (pieces of fish cooked in gravy prepared from grated coconut and spices).

:::::::::: Snacks ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::


Banana Chips

These are wafer thin slices of banana fried in oil. It is a speciality of Kerala and so popular that within the state 'chips' has become synonymous with banana chips.


Achappam is a sweet, crunchy snack. Flower shaped metallic moulds are dipped in a loose, sweet mixture in which rice powder is the main ingredient, and later placed in boiling coconut oil to get crispy, golden brown achappams.


A paste made from rice powder is squeezed out in different shapes and fried in oil. Crunchy murukku in the shape of small coils are the most common


A very popular snack, Vada is characteristic of South India. There are mainly two types of Vada.

Uzhunnu vada resembles a doughnut or a ring and is made by frying a fermented mixture of rice and black gram. It is served with sambar and chutney for side dish.

Parippu vada is circular in shape and prepared by deep frying ground pulses/dal/ parippu in coconut oil.



Jaggery soaked desiccated coconut pressed in between rice dough, wrapped in banana leaves and steam cooked.


Cheeda is a salty, crunchy snack. Rice flour is made into a paste and then rolled into small tablets that are fried in coconut oil till they turn golden brown.


Crunchy kuzhalappam is a slightly salty snack popular in South Kerala. Rice flour is rolled into thin layers, which are then rolled and fried in oil.

:::::::::: Dinner ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::


In most cases items on the dinner menu are the same as those on the lunch menu. In traditional cases the main dish is rice or gruel with a simpler (relative to the lunch menu) side dish.

Items on the breakfast menu are also served for dinner at many places.

:::::::::: Drinks ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Ilaneer/ tender coconut


The juice of tender coconut - 'world's safest natural soft drink' - is a refreshing nutritious thirst quencher.

Sambharam/ Mor

A refreshing drink prepared from curd. When salted it is called morr and when made sweet it is called sambharam.


A very sweet drink made from a particular herbal extract, this drink is famous among the Muslims.

:::::::::: Sweets and desserts ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::



An enticing dessert made usually from rice, rice products or pulses, and cooked in condensed milk, coconut milk or jaggery syrup.

Payasam and Boli

Boli is a pancake with a sweet mixture stuffed in between the layers.


This delicacy is actually string hoppers made from egg yolk and pickled in sugar syrup. It is famous at Muslim feasts.

:::::::::: Cuisine normal of a Malayalee :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

The staple food of the masses is rice. Puttu, Appam, Idli and Dosa are most often seen at breakfast tables. Plain rice served with an upperi and thoran and some 'koottan'/gravy/ curry forms the lunch. There is also a medley of pickles and chutneys. The crunchy pappadams are truly an indispensable item in lunches and dinners. Supper, quite similar to lunch follows a few hours after tea and snacks.

Food Varies from North to South


The culinary efforts of the different regions and communities of Kerala come out in distinctly different dishes of great variety. The state's cuisine varies also from North to South.

Normally vegetarian food dominates Kerala cuisine. But there are variations.

Non-vegetarian dishes are almost part of everyday meals in the north. The Pathiri, Biriyani, Muttamaala, Chattipathiri etc are especially famous in the north where there is a larger population of Muslims.Cuisine Halwas are typical of the north and especially Kozhikode. Dishes prepared from mussels are also a speciality of the north where it is relatively easily available.

Kottayam, kuttanad areas with their many waterways and thriving fisheries, are the best places to try the varieties of dishes in fish. There is an interesting array of fish dishes here.

Key spices used are


Almost every dish prepared in Kerala has spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, garlic, cumin, coriander, turmeric etc used in it. Spices are used in Kerala to tone up the system the way wines aid the digestion of Western cuisine.

Other key food options

In almost all places in Kerala, North Indian food and Chinese preparations are available. Famous restaurants serve certain Italian, Mexican and other exotic dishes and also improvise their menu from time to time. There are also many fast food joints and burger counters where one can quickly grab a bite.

Influence of other culture on food

The many people who had invaded and left the land at different points in time have left their impact on the cuisine as well. With many households having a working mother and children who prefer a different meal everyday, though food habits are bound to change. Cereal and bread loaves have found their way to some breakfast tables; pastries, cakes, pizzas and burgers also have a market in bakeries and snack bars; and Chinese and Italian are served in many restaurants.

Soft drinks, fruit juices and shakes have taken the place of tender coconut juice and sambharam.

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