Top Must-Try Dishes of Kerala and Where to Eat Them

The southern state of Kerala boasts some of the best cuisines in the country and makes use of the fresh and lush produce of the region. If you are planning a holiday to Kerala soon, we have curated a handy list of the most popular dishes that you must try, and where you can get them.

Puttu and Kadala Curry

Puttu is steamed rice flour and coconut log-shaped cakes. A popular breakfast item, it is usually paired with Kadala curry (black chickpeas). They are also sometimes stuffed with shrimp (Chemmeen Puttu) or beef (Erachi Puttu). 

Try it at Dhe Puttu, Ernakulam

Address:1st Floor, East Service Rd, NH 66, Edappally, Ernakulam

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Try it at The Cochin Puttu House, Kochi

Address: NRA-62, Nazareth, Chullickal, Kochi

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Appam with Stew

Appams are thin lacy pancakes made with a fermented rice-based batter. They are made in traditional woks called appachatti, which give them their signature shape. Pair with mutton roast or the humble, yet tasty stew.

Try it at Steampot restaurant, Thiruvananthapuram

Address: Ground Floor Skyways Building, Pottakuzhy Rd, Pattom, Thiruvananthapuram

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Try it at Cassia, Alappuzha

Address: NH -47, Kommady, Alappuzha

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Nadan Kozhi Varuthathu

This is a traditional Kerala-style fried chicken dish. The spicy dish is made with a melange of spices that give it a unique piquant taste. When fried in coconut oil, it gets a special nutty flavour.

Try it at Hotel Brothers, Alappuzha

Address: General Hospital junction, Alappuzha

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Try it at Rahmaniya Kethel's Chicken, Kochi

Address: PTM Chambers, Metro Pillar No 452, Kannanthodath Ln, Palarivattom, Palarivattom - Edappally Rd, Mamangalam, Edappally, Kochi

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Karimeen Pollichathu

This famous dish is made with pearl spot fish, which is wrapped and steamed in banana leaves. The signature spice blend that the fish is marinated with is the highlight of the dish, which originated in the Kuttanadan region.

Try it at Rice Boat, Kochi

Address: Taj Malabar Resort & Spa, Cochin, Willingdon Island, Kochi

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Try it at Grand Pavillion By Grand Hotel. Kochi

Address: Mahatma Gandhi Rd, Ernakulam South, Kochi

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Fish Molee
This delicate curry has its roots in central Kerala and is said to have been inspired by Portuguese traders. White fish is cooked in a turmeric and coconut milk gravy. Pair it with appams or red rice.

Try it at Taste of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram

Address:  Beach Road, Kovalam, Thiruvananthapuram

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Try it at The Bungalow, Wayanad

Address: Hotel Indriya, near New Bus Terminal, Mandayapuram, Kalpetta

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Nadan Beef Curry

A Kerala-style beef curry is a special dish served with rice or parottas. The meat is marinated in a signature spice blend. And the addition of coconuts makes it very different from other beef curries. 

Try it at Tellicherry Kitchen, Kochi

Address: Madathikunnel Complex, Kathrikkadav Junction, Kaloor - Kadavanthara Rd, Kochi

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Try it at Calicut Paragon, Kozhikode

Address: Kannur Rd, near CH Over bridge, Kozhikode

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Thalassery Biryani

This Malabar biryani is very different from the biryani found in other parts of India. It has spicy as well as sweet notes and is traditionally made with Kaima short-grain rice instead of basmati rice. 

Try it at Rara Avis Restaurant, Thalassery

Address: Manavatty junction, AVK Nair Road, Pallithazhe, Narangapuram, Thalassery

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Try it at Paris Restaurant, Thalassery

Address: Mattampram Road, NH66, Thalassery

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 Palada Payasam

This payasam is a special dessert prepared during festivals such as Onam. The sweet dish is made with Palada, which is rice wafer, and milk. The silky dessert has notes of cardamom and other spices.

Try it at Suresh Ambi Swami's Mithai Waala, Thrissur

Address: Chirayath Building, College Road, East Fort, Thrissur

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Try it at Taste Trees Payasakada, Kochi

Address: Palarivattom - Edappally Rd, Kesaveeyam, Sonia Nagar, Palarivattom, Kochi

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Pazham Pori 

Sometimes also called Ethakka Appam, these are one of the most beloved snacks in the state of Kerala. The fritters are made with ripe bananas, which are sliced, coated in a batter, and fried. 

Try it at Sree Muruga Cafe, Kochi

Address: Mini Bypass Tripunithura Rd, Poonithura, Thrippunithura, Kochi

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Try it at GP Hotel and Tea Shop, Thiruvananthapuram

Address: Sree Ramakrishna Mission Hospital Rd, Sasthamangalam, Thiruvananthapuram

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Another famous festive delicacy on the list is Avail. Made with seasonal vegetables such as yam, beans, brinjal, carrots, and drumsticks, the dish has flavours of coconut and spices.

In restaurants, you can find it as part of meals or thalis.

Try it at Le Méridien, Kochi

Address: Nettoor, Maradu, Kochi

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Try it at Steampot restaurant, Thiruvananthapuram

Address: Ground Floor Skyways Building, Pottakuzhy Rd, Pattom, Thiruvananthapuram

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Parotta with beef

A quintessential classic combination is Malabar Parotta with beef fry. The layered flakey parottas (wheat-based flatbread) pair very well with spicy beef fry. The dish is a popular quick lunch option.

Try it at Malabar Cafe, Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty, Kochi

Address: Lobby Level, Grand Hyatt Kochi, Mulavukad, Bolgatty, Kochi, 

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Try it at Jetty, Kochi

Address: Forte Kochi, Princess St, Fort Nagar, Fort Kochi, Kochi,

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Kappa Meen Curry

Another favourite combination is Kappa Meen Curry. Kappa is steamed tapioca that is mashed, and the meen curry aka fish curry is served atop it. A must-try comb when in Kerala. 

Try it at Ponnammas Kalavara, Kochi

Address: Mahakavi Vailoppilli Rd, Chakkalakkal, Palarivattom, Kochi, K

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Try it at Garden Grille Restaurant, Thiruvananthapuram

Address: Punnen Rd, Statue, Palayam, Thiruvananthapuram

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This breakfast staple goes by many names - Idiyappam, Nool puttu (string puttu), or string hoppers. Rice flour is pressed into noodles and then steamed. The dish is served with kadala curry (black gram curry), traditionally.

Try it at Palaaram Traditions, Kochi

Address: New Kudumbi Colony, Kumaranasan Nagar, Kadavanthra, Kochi

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Try it at Halais Restaurant, Alappuzha

Address: CCSB Road Near South Police Station, Kodiveedu, Alappuzha

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Published on: Jan. 21, 2023, midnight Last modified on: Jan. 19, 2023, 3:24 a.m.
Anagha Maareesha
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Anagha Maareesha

I am a journalist based in Bangalore with more than a decade of experience. Food, travel and learning more about new cultures are what bring me the most joy. Though a travel-bug at heart, you can mostly find me at home with a frayed paperback and a large mug of tea.