The Nuances And Flavours Of Kerala's Christian Cuisine

Kerala that is also fondly called as the “God’s own country” and interestingly the food here can be classified on the basis of caste be it the Hindu cooking, Mappilah cooking, and the humble Christian cooking. All of these communities have different styles and traditions and also food habits and even the way it’s prepared. And when we talk of Christian cooking there is huge presence of fish, meat, and vegetables. Their cuisine sees a strong influence from western world which was visible in terms of local spices, ingredients along with the traditional cooking method. Mostly said to have living around the districts like Kottayam and Pala in Kerala, Syrian Christian are known for their most favoured stew. 

The exquisite spices of Kerala can be seen in the dishes cooked and the regularly eaten items like the Mappas, Stew, Molee, Roasts and Appams along with popular snacks like Alappuzha, Kottayam, Thrissur and Tharavu have made their way to gourmet table too. The main flavour and taste come from spices and vinegar that happen to be the main components of non-vegetarian dishes along with the use of coconut milk that is seen in as an important ingredient in Central Kerala. 

Talking about their most favoured dish of the community happens to be thje Kerala Syrian Christians is the 'stew'. Their style of stew sees boiling chicken and potatoes together in slow-cooked manner with some black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, green chilies, lime juice, shallots and coconut milk. The coconut milk gives the creamy white texture to the dish. The same be substituted with either lamb or duck too. The stew pairs best with 'Appam', which is made with rice flour pancake. 

Flavours and taste

A book written by Rev Samuel Matteer that was published in 1883 talks about food habits that is seen in Southern Travancore. It also mentions that Christian’s didn't have any food taboo and they preferred rice and curries. They would sit on the floor and have the meal that would be served on a plantain. This style also sees a mention in ancient Ayurveda as it is good for health and digestion. There was also an order the way food was served (as seen in Sadya) with salt in right hand end. Pani Vilambal or sweet syrup made from palm too made its presence in the meal. Churuttu sees a delicate filling with a crispy and soft exterior that happens to be a known dessert of the community. Dried fish with and mango were also a part of the Christian delicacy.

Cross Cultural Influence

Acchapam is deep fried cookie/ Pic- FB- Shamina Rasal


The cuisine of the Kerala Syrian Christians sees much cross-cultural influences and much prominent as seen in and around Kochi. Dishes like Achappam, Kuzhalappam, Cheeda, English biscuit and more were termed as Kochi delicacies. The preparations from the area of Varapuzha, Mulavukad, Thevara, Kumbalangi and more are much different. The iconic Beef Vindaloo, which is originally  a Portuguese origin, seer fish Kothapichathu, prawn with coconut bits and the iconic fish moliee- the spicy stewed fish are some of the stellar form the community. The Varapuzha region sees a dish called Mustard that is made with sliced beef. Another popular dish happens to be Sardinha Assado made of sardines and yes the credit for getting sardine fishlings also goes to Portuguese and so was cockum/ kokum and more

The other aspect was the Christian Ashrams food of the early days which saw a lot of restrictions and limitations in food. Gruel made for one of the most important food of the day along with some curries. But with foreign missionaries coming in the food became more European. There was an evident English and Portuguese influence in the kitchen as the cooks were from there. 

Wine is an essential part of Kerala Syrian Christian Cuisine. Another interesting feature of the cuisine is the liberal use of coconut oil, mustard seeds, curry leaves, and coconut milk. These recipes were kept much guarded by the foreign cooks but then became a part of the community feastings in seminaries. Fenugreek kanji because of it’s medicinal properties made its entry during monsoon months and this still is consumed. Something similar to paya soup a soup was made with trotters of goat. These had immense health benefits. Though with time many dishes seem find it difficult to stand the test of time like nadan chicken of Irinjalakuda and Varal (fish curry).