Hey beautiful reader… Happy New Year! It’s Ishy from the comms team here at Sorted.
After recently getting settled back in from the foodie trip of a lifetime, I just knew I had to tell you all about it. In December, I did something I hadn’t done in years – I went back to India… And this time, without my family! My parents are from North India, so I’m very used to travelling to just Chandigarh whenever we go. This time, however, my friends and I visited Trivandrum, Kerala – a beautiful coastal state of South India for a very close friend’s wedding. One of the best things about India is that no two parts are the same. Each place can differ in language, traditions and way of cooking.
One of the biggest plus points of having joined Sorted Food almost 9 months ago was that I knew it’d be the perfect place for a picky eater like me. I say this because it constantly challenges me to try food that is out of my comfort zone… And this is the exact mindset I wanted to take with me to Kerala. Let’s take a look at some of my top picks (and yes, you’ll definitely be hungry by the end of this).
An important thing to remember: three things that are key to food in Kerala are coconut, curry leaves and… having a decent tolerance for spice (I was definitely in trouble)!
We stopped to eat at a buzzing street food spot on our first day and got the most popular thing on the menu. Chicken fry is small cuts of boneless chicken marinated in a masala paste of ALL things flavour – ginger, garlic, garam masala, chillies, turmeric and more. The chicken is then fried in coconut oil along with fragrant curry leaves.
When taking my first bite, I just knew I’d be having this consistently on the trip – the intense flavour hits you straight away. The perfect crunch and zesty finish had me hooked, but was my mouth on fire from the spice level? Yes. Was I laughed at for my reaction? Yes. Did it stop me from going for more? Absolutely not.
Here in the UK, we’re very much used to seeing omelettes on breakfast menus… That wasn’t the case in Kerala! Whilst it was of course available as a breakfast food item, it went so far beyond that – you could order it any time of the day.
These omelettes are exactly like the ones I’ve grown up eating at home, so I was excited to tuck in. The gorgeously fluffy omelette was cooked with chopped vegetables such as onions, tomatoes, chillies and grated coconut – making it super filling. The list of what you can include in this style of omelette could be endless depending on what you’d like. We did have the omelette on the side of our dish, but it can definitely be enjoyed as a main with some extra add-ons!
Ah, the beauty that is a paratha… A staple across dishes all over South Asia! The way in which you make it and even pronounce/spell it can vary depending on where you’re from. For example, in my Punjabi household, I’ve grown up calling it a pronta (or pronte), whereas others may refer to it as a paratha, parotta and so on!
A paratha is essentially a soft, layered, flaky flatbread that is eaten alongside your curry. When eating it this way, it is usually plain, but can also come with various fillings. We loved having a breakfast paratha with a mixed vegetable filling along with a piping hot cup of tea – a combo made in foodie heaven.
One of the most memorable foodie experiences I had was eating lunch from a banana leaf! We visited a family-owned outdoor restaurant which had rave reviews – the wait time was definitely worth it.
Once we sat down, large banana leaves were laid out for each of us and a selection of curries was poured out next to one another. We had tons to try from – prawn fry with onions, potato, shredded vegetables, aubergine, rice and a side of yoghurt (which massively helped me handle the spice). I personally don’t eat seafood, but the prawn fry was a favourite amongst everyone on the table.
Traditionally in Kerala, it is a very common practice to eat using just your hands without the need for utensils – an ancient, dining norm for many cultures in parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia! We loved this article in The Guardian which goes into more about why eating with your hands is just that much more delicious. Usually, at home, I use a spoon for my rice and curry, but here, I was adamant to give eating with my hands a go. At first, I struggled to get a good mix of everything with the right amount of rice, but a couple of attempts later, it became a lot easier!
Last but by no means least, we have the incredible Kottu Roti – this dish actually originates from Sri Lanka, but I had to include it on the list! Kottu Roti is essentially chopped roti (chapatti), a meat of your choice, scrambled eggs, onions and chillies. I went for the chicken option whilst my friend went for lamb – the portion was so big that we definitely could’ve shared one between two (or even three) people! To someone who is so used to having their roti and curry separately, Kottu Roti is a genius creation which I would eat multiple times a week if I could.
Ishy @ Sorted Food