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6 things only a local can tell you about Kerala
Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

By Sudha Mathew

1. Skip the continental breakfast and eat appam with stew.

Most hotels will provide the eggs toast juice combo known as “continental breakfast”. But why have such a boring breakfast when you are spoilt for choice with local breakfast dishes? My favourite is the creamy ishtew (stew) made with coconut milk , vegetables and chicken. The stew should be mopped up using pillow soft, rice flour appams that have a crisp lace like edge. Other breakfast dishes to try are puttu-kadala (cylinders of rice flour cooked with grated coconut) eaten with curried chickpeas and idiappam (rice flour and coconut noodles) with fragrantly spiced egg curry. These are just three of many delicious breakfast dishes. If you’re staying in a homestay in Kerala, you can request your host to prepare these traditional breakfast dishes.

Appam made in traditional iron "chatty"

2. Ayurveda can’t cure you in a day.  

You will need at least 10-14 days of restrictive treatment to see any improvement in condition. Make sure you find a treatment centre with good doctors. Any Ayurveda centre that allows an unrestricted diet during treatment is probably not authentic. Two genuine Ayurveda hospitals are Kalari Kovilakom or Kottakal Arya Vaidya Sala. Of course, a massage purely for well-being is fine anywhere.

3. Unlike other states, non-Hindus cannot enter most temples in Kerala.

And some like the famed Guruvayoor temple are duty bound to do a prolonged purification if they come to know that a non-Hindu has entered it.

4. Do try local toddy but ask for Mundiri Kallu to stay safe.

Toddy is the local alcohol of Kerala made with fermented sap of palm trees. However you may end up drinking adulterated versions which can give you a bad hangover or worse. So ask for Mundiru Kallu. For the uninitiated, Mundiri Kallu is toddy-lite. It’s a lightly fermented version of toddy with a mild sweet taste. Sadly it won’t get you drunk but that’s definitely preferable to getting sick.

5. Kathakali is hard to appreciate if you don’t understand the story.

The reason is that Kathakali is a very stylised dance. Ask a regular to give you a synopsis beforehand to make it easier to appreciate the performance. Also go early and ask the organisers if you can watch the intricate Kathakali makeup being applied. That’s a fascinating art in itself.

6. Eat Karimeen in all its avatars.

Seafood is plentiful and fresh in all coastal states. But the Karimeen fish is available only in the backwater regions of Kerala like Kumarakom and Alleppey. It needs the unique mix of salt and fresh water in the Kerala backwaters to survive. You can have Karimeen in curry, fried, steamed forms, but Karimeen pollichatu is not to be missed. First fried and then steamed in banana leaves, this is a complex dish to be savoured with the local brown rice. Luckily Karimeen is available easily in most restaurants in Kerala.

Karimeen pollichatu

Karimeen pollichatu

Image source: Wikimedia

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Did I miss anything? Feel free to add your Kerala travel tips in the comments. 

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Cheers

Sudha


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Posted by Sudha at 2:52 pm
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Plan to travel to an Indian holiday destination?

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About me

The wise man travels to discover himself - JR Lowell

 

My name is Sudha Mathew. I'm an ex-banker who quit the rat race after a decade to follow my passion for travel and to combine it with my experience in understanding client requirements and exceeding their expectations.

 

While our content is mostly about the holiday experience, the accommodation and services, there's so much more to a journey. I have discovered a whole new me through travel. So I've reserved this corner of the website to share the unexpected aspects of travel. This space is also to hear from you about your journeys and discoveries. Bon Voyage!

 
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