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My Favourite 4 dishes of Malabar Cuisine: Foodie Delight
Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

by Sudha Mathew

Samuel Johnson had said once “He who does not mind his belly will hardly mind anything else.” Reiterating the point, I believe gustatory delight is the best ecstasy felt. Being an Indian, I have had the opportunity and fortune to taste a plethora of cuisines, each one different from the others. Reading about food and savouring food come to me naturally. While travelling, I not only jot down the places of interest, but also the food joints and the restaurants where I can sample different dishes. Here I cannot resist sharing my experience at the Kannur beach.  Sun kissed beach and absolute foodie delight, what a fabulous holiday that was.

On Way to Malabar Coast
Off To Malabar Coast

The culinary history of the Malabar region is interesting, being influenced by a handful of other cuisines. The trade links the Malabar Coast shared due to its strategic geographic location has allowed strains of culinary characteristics of the Arabs, the Chinese, and the Europeans to seep in and blend with the local cuisine. Kerala has a strong backdrop of being the land of spices. During the Greek and Roman trade era, the land was famous for the cultivation of pepper. Being the natural harbour for transport of spices, Kerala is famous for whole spices: cardamom, clove, cinnamon, pepper, cashews and others.

There is an array of Malabar dishes to do justice to. I will restrict it to my favourite four. Malabar Biriyani is a gastronomic as well as gustatory relish. The word Biriyani originates from the Persian word, Berya, meaning roasted or fried. Originally it was a Mediterranean dish, where they used to fill an earthen pot with rice, meat and spices and put it in a hole, surrounded by warm desert sands, resulting in a crudely cooked Biriyani. The present day Malabari or Mappila Biriyani has the meat cooked tender; the rice flaked with correct proportions of seasonings, and the aroma boasting a rich flavour of the spices.

Staple Malabar Cuisine
Cushion Soft Paithri

Another dish is the Pathiri. Malabari chefs boast that this dish is quintessentially of Malabar origin. Fried, roasted, steamed or even baked,Pathiri is available in all forms. The Kannan Pathiri has the dough folded and fried. It can be treated as a snack as well as a meal. Neriya Pathiri, Meen Pathiri, Erachi Pathiri, Madukku Pathiri are some of the other variants served. Nulli-itta Pathiri is a variety where a pinch of the dough gets steamed. A delicacy, Pathiri is a melt-in-mouth sort.

Muttamala meaning necklace of eggs is another dish to check out. This dish is a pudding made of steamed egg white. The egg yolks are made in such a way that they look like strands of lace. This is required for garnishing. The entire appearance looks like a garland, hence the name.

You should also try the famous Calicut Halwa. The main ingredients of the sweet are oil, flour and molasses. Traditionally made with jaggery, this glutinous delicacy comes in many flavors, pineapple, banana, pista, badam and others.

To sum it all, Malabar cuisine is an admixture of the culture and its tradition, dashed with a whiff of overseas influence and the aroma of spices. And if we are talking about culture, how can I not mention Theyyam. If you ever travel to this part of the world, attending a heavenly Theyyam performance is a must.


Would you like to plan a culinary tour to learn more about the different cuisines of Kerala? Do get in touch with us at reservations@goseekandhide.com




Picture Courtesy:

Off to Malabar Coast, CK

Paithri, Curryworld

Malabar Biriyani, Shabscuisine

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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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