Kerala, historically known as Keralam, is situated on the Malabar coast of south India and is bordered by Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and the Lakshadweep Sea. Kerala is India’s thirteenth largest state by population and comprises of 14 districts.
The cuisine of Kerala is extremely varied; it boasts a wide range of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes made with fish, poultry and red meat. Given Kerala’s coastal location, seafood plays a large part in Keralan people’s diets.
Snacks are also favoured among the people of Kerala, who enjoy them in throughout the day either in-between meals or served alongside their meals. One of the most popular snacks is Appam, which bears many similarities to a pancake and is made from a batter of fermented rice and coconut milk. Appams are most often enjoyed with breakfast or dinner, when they are used to soak up sauces.
Appams come in many different variations and can be sweet or savoury. One such variation is Palappams, which are identical to Appams apart from the addition of thick coconut cream or milk which is poured into the middle of the pancake. Palappams have a great texture, with a crispy edge but a soft centre.
Another favourite snack among the people of Kerala is Pori, which is puffed rice. In order to puff the rice, the kernels are heated under major pressure. Pori is a favourite snack for in-between meals and it also has religious implications, being offered to Hindu Gods and Goddesses during prayer rituals, which Indians call Pujas.
Dosa is another favourite snack. This is also a pancake but made using rice batter and black lentils, called Urad Dal. Similar to Appam, Dosa is a fermented pancake as the batter is left to soak overnight. The pancakes can be served plain or stuffed with ingredients such as vegetables, pickles and chutneys and are considered a moderately healthy snack as there is no sugar or saturated fat in the batter. Dosas are an extremely popular street food snack in Kerala – it’s rare to come across a vendor who doesn’t sell them to passers-by.
Also enjoyed at breakfast and during the daytime is Ada, which locals also call Ela Ada. Essentially, Ada is small parcels of rice which are encased in rice flour dough. The ingredients of the Ada are steamed in a banana leaf and the addition of grated coconut makes the snack extremely sweet to taste. Ada is often prepared and eaten during Onam, which is a harvest festival celebrated by the people of Kerala as well as Tamil Nadu.
Do you like the sound of Kerala’s scrumptious snacks? If you want to sample some of India’s finest street foods without leaving the UK, just pay a visit to one of London’s fine dining Indian restaurants. The chefs there are renowned for creating unique, flavoursome street food dishes akin to their authentic Indian counterparts. Instead of ordering one main dish, why not order several, smaller starter dishes, all of which are influenced by snacks and street foods of India.