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Kerala: Snacks, More Snacks And Then Recipes

Written by Luisa Davis on . Posted in food

Just like with hot dogs or burgers, Kerala snacks are a must have when you are taking a leisurely stroll down the streets of India. The snacks come in different shapes, sizes, colors, patterns and are made up of different combinations of ingredients and this is just perfect because you get so much in a single bite for little cost.

The best thing about the snacks is that it’s not just one snack – oh no, there are numerous snacks out there just waiting to be eaten and we will be delving into them one after the other. But before that, let’s look at a little background information.

Kerala, known to the locales as Keralam, is an Indian state on the southwestern Malabar Coast. Known as the home of spice, coconuts and jackfruits, Kerala boasts of a rich culture and is at the same time severely under-represented on the international scene amongst Indian foods.

Some say that Kerala cuisine is the most delicious – it could be, but that’s relative. What Kerala cuisine is though is unusual with a very wide array of delicacies, full of fiber and other nutritional goodies and served in the most unusual yet appetizing ways.

Sadhya is the traditional kerala meal. It is an elaborate banquet eaten during festivals, banquets, weddings, Onam and Vishu cultural celebrations. The meal is basically boiled rice served with about 20 different accompaniments and desserts like paayasam, bitter gourd thoran, aviyal, kaalan, lime pickle, sambar and buttermilk. And here comes the interesting part. The meal – rice, curries, dessert and all – is served on a banana leaf.

Life doesn’t get more traditional than that.

The meal is very healthy and vegetarian, which is a great plus. In fact, most of the Kerala cuisine is vegetarian including the snacks. And this brings us back to our original topic: kerala snacks. Right about now, we’ll be looking at some of the most popular Kerala snacks recipe for tea time, easy home-making and general snacking.

4 Kerala Snacks You’ve Been Missing

I have listed here some of the best Kerala homemade snacks you absolutely must have when you get the chance. Some of them are not so difficult to make and can be easily replicated.

Pazham pori is made from sweet, ripe plantains that are cut along their lengths, dipped in flour batter and deep fried. It’s the go-to tea time Kerala snack and is easily found in most tea shops and nooks around Kerala. The plantains used in making these fritters must be ripe and juicy to give it its iconic taste.   

Banana chips are a notable part of the all-famous traditional sadhya. Because they are dry Kerala snacks, they make an excellent companion when you’re going on a journey. The bananas used in the making of the Kerala chips are cut thinly into slices, sun dried and then deep fried in coconut oil.

Ela ada. The word alone bears the promise of something delicious to come. It is made of rice powder with pockets in it which are filled with jaggery and grated coconut. The ela ada is then enclosed within banana leaves and steamed to perfection. It is not naturally sweet, but can be made sweet and as such is an ideal simple evening snack.

Urulaikizhangu bonda is a savory, deep fried spicy potato mix topped with tomato sauce and simply the best Kerala appetizer anyone could ask for.

Kerala Cooking Recipes

Okay so at this point, I’m going to give the recipes for two more Kerala snacks – one vegetarian and one not so vegetarian. Kerala snacks are numerous and they feature different ingredients from beef to egg to banana (as we saw above). Some of the ingredients can be easily gotten and the snack replicated, but some of them may not be so easy to locate. Notwithstanding, the recipes are necessary to have. You just might need it one day.

Unniappam

This has got to be the most popular snack in all of Kerala. They are home-made snacks made of rice powder and stuffed with mashed bananas, jiggery and roasted coconut slices. They are deep fried in specific moulds which gives them their characteristic hemisphere shape. Unniappam is an easy Kerala snack to make.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups of rice powder
  • ¾ to 1 cup of jaggery
  • ½ cup of water
  • ¼ cup of coconut slices
  • 1 tablespoon of ghee
  • 1 or 2 bananas
  • ¼ teaspoon of baking soda (optional)

How to make:

  1. Heat up the jaggery with water until it melts, and allow it to cool. In a separate pan, heat up the ghee and fry the coconut slices in it until it turns golden brown.
  2. Bled up the banana to form a smooth paste. Mix together the rice powder, melted jaggery and the banana paste. Add water as desired to achieve the right consistency. Then add the coconut slices and baking soda. Mix very well and set aside for 2 hours to ferment.
  3. Heat your oil in an unniappachatti (the specific mould) and when the oil is hot, reduce the heat and pour a tablespoon of the unniappam mix into each hole of the mould. After a couple minutes, flip over to the other side. Cook both sides evenly until it turns golden brown. Set out to drain on a paper towel.

Unniappam can be eaten as is, or as a side. You can also add cardamom, cinnamon and ginger if you wish.

Kerala Beef Cutlets

This is somewhat similar to the regular beef cutlet you know but with the added bonus of the Kerala touch. I especially like this recipe because it’s so easy to reproduce and you already have most of the ingredients on your grocery list. It’s a great simple evening snack and can be imbibed into a whole meal.

What you’ll need:

  • 200gm minced beef
  • 1 large potato
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 1-2 chopped green chilies
  • 1 medium-sized grated ginger
  • 3 cloves of chopped garlic
  • ½ tsp of garam masala
  • ¼ teaspoon of red chili powder
  • ½ tsp of turmeric powder
  • 1 egg
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • Bread crumbs
  • Salt
  • Oil
  • Water

How to make:

  1. Boil the potato until it is very soft, mash it up and set aside.

  2. Cook the minced meat over low heat with ¼ teaspoon of the turmeric powder and salt. Add little water.
  3. Heat up your oil in a clean pan and sauté your onions with the green chilies, ginger and garlic. The onions should turn golden brown.
  4. Reduce the heat and add the garam masala, red chili powder, ¼ teaspoon of turmeric and pepper. Saute again for a minute.
  5. Now mix in the cooked beef and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add salt or pepper as you see fit.
  6. Add your mashed potatoes and mix all the ingredients in properly. Allow to cool. In a separate bowl, beat your egg.
  7. Once it’s cool enough to handle, divide the potato beef mix into small portions using your fingers.
  8. Dip each cutlet in the beaten egg and roll on the bread crumbs and then deep fry. You can eat with ketchup and a side of your favorite beverage.

Yum yum…with Kerala sweets, you can’t go wrong. We all know that no street experience is complete without accompanying snacks. Be it walking, biking, picnicking or even on the playground and in the parks, a snack is necessary. And now, you can make your own snacks and have a Kerala snack-filled experience that’s to die for. So when next you find yourself in an Indian state or supermarket, be sure to try out these recipes and snack up your appetites the right, traditional way!

Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis is a frelance writer and foodie based in Portland, California. Though raised on her mother's homestyle Italian cooking, she has spent most of the last five years traveling and immersing herself in other countries' cuisines. Her work have been published in various publications, both online and offline.

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