Christmas 2023: 6 Must-Try Festive Dishes In Kochi

Christmas in Kerala is always a grand affair with plenty to do, see and eat. In the capital city of Kochi, the festive spirit is already in full swing with families prepping their homes and kitchens to welcome the big day. One of the highlights of Christmas in Kochi is the legendary Cochin Carnival which is held every year during the last week of December at Fort Kochi. This year it will be held between the 25 December and continue until the New Year.  

While in Kochi there’s a lot to explore from the historic Jew Town with its many ancient customs and bakeries, as well as more local fare. You can’t miss out on a stop at the toddy shops for a sip of true Christmas spirit and pick up some of the local plum cakes for a delicious treat to take with you. 

If you happen to be in Kochi during Christmas and you can’t wrangle an invitation to someone’s home for a meal, there are a few delicious dishes you should try to get a taste of what a truly Kerala Christmas feast entails. 

Video Credits: Sherry's Kitchen/YouTube

1. Appam and Stew:

A favoured Christmas breakfast in Kerala, Appam and Stew were introduced by the Jewish community in Kochi and it’s become the traditional way to start Christmas day with a simple hearty meal. The vegetable stew, prepared in rich coconut milk, features beans, carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, and green peas. While it has European roots, the Kerala-style Vegetable Stew has unique characteristics that set it apart.

2. Duck Mappas:

Duck Mappas, a cherished Kerala Syrian Christian delicacy, involves cooking poultry, meat, fish, or vegetables in rich coconut milk and tomato gravy. This delectable dish, akin to a stew, is a staple in Christian households during special occasions like Easter, Christmas, and weddings. The name "Mappas" is believed to be derived from the Portuguese word "Pappas," meaning Potato, reflecting its historical preparation with potatoes in a creamy coconut milk gravy.

3. Achappam:

Achappams, also known as rose cookies or appams, are traditional fried cookies shaped like roses, prepared during Christmas in Kerala Christian homes. These delightful treats, made using iron moulds called "Achu," boast a subtle sweetness. Deep-fried to perfection, they can be stored for months in sealed jars. Variations in flavour include the use of sesame seeds, cumin seeds, or fennel seeds.

4. Mattancherry Plum Cake:

Located just 10 km from central Kochi, the historic town of Mattancherry, once a significant spice trade centre, is steeped in culinary traditions. With a thriving Jewish population, the town hosts grand Christmas celebrations, featuring a variety of cakes. Among the favourites is the Mattancherry spice mature plum cake, a festive staple for over four decades.

5. Fish Moilee:

Fish Moilee, a special dish with Portuguese influences, is a celebrated curry in Kerala. Legend has it that the dish originated when the traditional Kerala curries proved too spicy for Portuguese settlers. A lady named Molly adjusted the spice levels by incorporating coconut milk and replacing red chillies with green chillies. The result is a spiced and delicious seafood curry.

6. Kallappam and Vellayappam:

Kallappam, a traditional Christian breakfast in Kerala, is a soft and tasty pancake made from fermented rice and coconut batter. Typically, fresh toddy is used for fermentation, although yeast can be a substitute. Vellayappam, a sweeter and steamed delicacy, is also popular in Kerala.