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Travellers visiting India discover that Bengalis and Malayalis have many things common in their food habits: Rice is a staple for both, fish and other seafood are favourites, traditional meals are still eaten on banana leaves. Yet, the best thing about food from Kerala is its abundant yet subtle use of spices. But outside the state, one finds its cuisine most maligned thanks to the idli-dosa-vada fare that is usually presented in its name. The Malabar Food Festival which takes place regularly in the commercial capital of Kerala features sumptuous cuisine fare from God’s own country especially the four districts of Kannur, Kasaragode, Kozhikode and Wayanad.
Malabar cuisine stands out among the varied regional cuisines of Kerala in the sense that this region was perhaps the most influenced by trader-invaders (spice traders from across the globe) since ancient times. This is evident in most of the dishes. There is also a number of delectable chutneys to accompany your meal. The raw mango-lemon chutney and the raw mango-prawn chutney have been rated as excellent by tourists. They are to be had alongwith the crisp banana chips and Kerala pappadam.
Visitors would vouch for the Varutha Meen (fried fish) Onion Salad. The Unakka Meen (dry shark) Chammanthy is also rated very good. For vegetarians, there is the Boiled Beetroot Salad and the Mixed Vegetable Salad with Lettuce. They could also try the Spicy Coconut Chammanthy. There is also an assortment of soups, both veg and non veg., available.
It is advised to stick to exclusive Malabar dishes while ordering the main course, for you to enjoy a pleasantly wholesome meal. The Nadan Kozhi Biryani (chicken biryani) is a Malabar speciality and sports a strong Muslim influence. This biryani, with a distinct flavour of coconut, curry leaves and spices, is entirely different from the more usual Hyderabadi biryani.
The Kozhi Coconut Stew (spicy chicken and coconut stew) tastes great. The soft, succulent chicken is enhanced by the coconut. And the delicate use of a number of other spices gives it a distinctly appetising aroma. The Kari Meen Porichathu (fried pearl spot fish), spiced with chilly, ginger, curry leaves, egg and lemon juice, is a dish literally made in heaven. As for the desserts, the Coconut Crepes is a novel unique item that tastes great. The Palada Payasam with raw mango is yet another great dish.
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