Malabari Cuisine: A Gift Of Trade And Cultural Influence
Image Credit: Image: Facebook: Kerala Tourism

South Indian cuisine is as diverse and vibrant as the region it encompasses. Right from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh to Kerala, south India is brimming with distinct delicacies that keeps on surprising us. The Malabar cuisine of Kerala is one such regional cuisine that is rich, unique and full of coastal delights besides an enviable vegetable fare. If you dig deeper, you would find some of the most interesting local dishes, contrary to the popular notion that the cuisine is mostly about the celebrated biriyani.

History Of Malabar Cuisine

The Malabar region of Kerala, located in the northern part of Kerala constitutes the districts of Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur, Wayanad and Kasargode. The culinary traditions here are influenced by both rural as well as foreign factors- be it the food practices of the tribal regions or the adivasis, or the influences that reached here through trade and invasions. Due to these influences, there are countless delicacies that have made Malabar its home over the course of different centuries. Biryani is one such classic example. The Thalassery Biryani, in particular boasts of the Mughlai influence and in fact, is a result of Mughal-Arab culture which was prevalent in North Kerala due to trade that lasted for many centuries before the 1900s. Thalassery Biryani was localised later by the Malabaris by tossing in local produce, developing its own distinct flavour.

 Malabar Coast used to be a major trading centre with the Middle East and other Arab countries in the ancient times. Spices such as ginger, turmeric and clack pepper were in abundance in Kerala, which attracted traders from distant countries. It was the Arab sailors who acquired the spices and perhaps benefitted the most as the value of these spices kept increasing through Europe and other parts of the world The valuable spices travelled through the Arab countries, and the process continued for centuries. When the Arabs came here for trade, they stayed in different parts of north Kerala and settled with the locals of the region. In due course of time, it paved way for not just a new language  but also for a new cuisine in Malabar. Similarly, the Christians, who came from central Kerala to Northern Kerala bought their own culinary influence to the region, which included meats such as pork, and dishes such as chicken and mutton stew. 

The food culture of Malabar is still deep-rooted in its history and certain food items find a place in every Malabar home. Jackfruit, for instance, is very common and popular fruit not just in Malabar but throughout Kerala. It is eaten in various forms- from fried snacks or as a fruit itself, but it was Portuguese who introduced it to the state. Kanji, a rice gruel, is almost a staple in Malabar homes and Malabaris have different types of kanjis in different seasons.  

The culinary map of Malabar is dominated by the cuisine of Kozhikode and Thalassery with Biriyani being the centre of it all. However, delicacies like Ari pathiri, Chatti pathiri, Coin porottas, Kallummakaya fry and Arikkadukka are a hot favourite among locals. Here we have four amazing Malabari recipes you must try:

1. Thalassery Biryani

2. Malabar Prawn Curry

3. Malabar Paratha

4. Unnakkaya