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If you’re a foodie, you’ve reached paradise as far as Kerala’s cuisine is concerned. Mirroring the landscape, the glorious food invites you to experiment and indulge your taste-buds, whether it is delicious sadyas, flavourful Mappila biryani, beef fry or lip-smacking cakes. The secret to the great flavour lies in the range of spices so abundatly grown in the state and the coconut that makes for a great change from the northern onion and tomato based curries that visitors to India are familiar with.

Here are the must-try dishes in God’s Own Country, where each meal packs in a flavour of surprises.

1. Sadya:

A regular plate makes way for a banana leaf in this grand vegetarian feast that consists of at least 24 to 28 traditional dishes. Served in a particular order the food is a mix of vegetables, curries, pickle, rice, banana chips and of course dessert, which is served in the middle of the meal instead of the end. Sadya is especially popular during the Onam festival.

2. Avial:

Sadya is incomplete without this dish which has a variety of vegetables cooked in a thick coconut paste. Bursting with fresh flavours, this dry dish is surprisingly eaten with rice, but is still perfectly balanced.

3. Puttu:

Rice string hoppers which is a rice flour dough, pressed into a noodle shape and then steamed. A typical coconut based curry is paired with this.

5Appam and stew:

A pancake made with fermented rice and coconut milk is a staple in many households across the state. The classic combination is served with vegetable stew or if you are die-hard meat -lover, you can savour it with a lamb stew.

6. Biryani:

Due to the influence of Arabs in the Malabar region, Mappila cuisine became popular. It involves adding spices like pepper, cloves and cardamom to make the dishes more flavourful. Also known as Thalassery biryani, its made with short grain rice.

7. Karimeen Pollichathu:

A delicacy from the Alleppey region, the Pearl Spot fish is cooked whole. Rubbed with spices and curry leaves that are mixed with a coconut paste, it is wrapped and then baked in a banana leaf. Squeeze some fresh lime before eating and its lip-smacking deliciously.

8. Pazhampori:

These crisp deep fried banana fritters are an all-time favourite tea-time snack. Perfect for a rainy evening, bought fresh from the many tea vendors.

9. Beef fry:

If you enjoy beef, then look no further. Cooked with onions, coconut of course, and coated with mustard seeds and curry leaves, the beef fry in Kerala will leave you yearning for more.

10. Payasam: Very similar to the kheer made in North India, Payasam is made with coconut milk and jaggery instead of sugar. Garnished with cashews, its perfect after a spicy meal and you’re bound to reach for extra helping.

I am dying to go back and I would suggest all of you must try out Kerala cuisine, the very first opportunity that presents itself.