>> Jul 23, 2014
With India being such a large country, its cuisine is certainly a diverse one.
The southern state of Kerala serves as a good example of the fact that Indian food isn’t all vegetables and pulses. The region’s backwaters consist of many interconnected canals, rivers and lakes that stretch down the Malabar Coast, meaning that fish and seafood feature highly in the cuisine of the region.
One local fish delicacy is karimeenpollichatu, consisting of marinated pearl spot fish wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed. Another favourite dish is meenmolee (or fish stew), which is fish slowly simmered in coconut milk and seasoned with just a subtle hint of masala.
As well as providing an abundant source of fish, the waters also nourish the paddy fields and coconut groves that run alongside them, meaning the people of Kerala are often blessed with plentiful harvests for a number of vegetables and food to accompany the delicious fish.
This also means that coconuts are an integral part of Keralan culture and economy, as the region accounts for approximately 45% of India’s entire coconut production. It is also a staple part of the population’s diet. Whether they are grated or the milk used to thicken and add flavour to sauces, it is both a versatile and delicious crop. Coconut oil is also an essential ingredient and is mixed with fermented rice batter to make appam, a thin pancake.
Tapioca is eaten across most of India, but grows particularly well in this part of the country, and is eaten either for breakfast or as part of an evening meal. Most commonly it is boiled, before being mixed with flavourings such as grated coconut, chilli or turmeric, then steamed and mashed into a pudding. It can also be dried and kept fresh for a longer period of time, once it has been parboiled and sliced into 0.5 cm pieces. This is called Unakka Kappa or Vaattu Kappa (meaning dried tapioca), and is eaten widely in Kerala. Tapioca Chips, similar to potato chips, are also a popular and commonly eaten snack.
Perhaps one of the state’s most widely known dishes is Keralan fried chicken. This consists of chicken pieces bathed in a marinade of buttermilk, cumin and coriander seeds, ginger and garlic, and fried until golden and crisp.Not as healthy as steamed fish, perhaps, but a wonderful taste experience.
The people of Kerala are less divided by class and wealth than in other parts of the country, which means that similar foods and dishes are eaten by people from all backgrounds, creating a fantastic unity across the state.
In the UK, it is possible to try Keralan inspired food in some of London’s top Indian restaurants. From affordable brasseries to fine dining restaurants, many incorporate a variety of regional dishes into their menus. If you’re looking for truly authentic Indian food, then the nation’s capital offers some of the best.