Prawns with Peppercorns and Curry Leaves
Meen Molee: Fish in Coconut Curry
Taharava Kootan: Duck Curry, “Backwater” Style
Kala Channa: Peppery Black Chickpeas
Baigan Thiyal: Eggplant with Spiced Coconut and Tamarind
Ingli Poli: Ginger Chutney
Cardamom, cinnamon, vanilla, cloves, turmeric, ginger, curry leaves, and above all, peppercorns: Kerala has been a spice-trading centre for millennia. The spices have drawn Chinese, European, Arab and other traders who have left their legacies: temples, mosques, churches and synagogues – and distinct subsets of Keralan cuisine – Syrian Christian, Iraqi Jewish, Mappila Muslim (mappila means bridegroom) and Hindu Nayer.
Rice, coconuts, waterfowl, and seafood, both from the Arabian Sea and the “backwaters” – the canals, lakes and rivers that are Kerala’s roads – are in abundance. In Kerala, it is said, one has only to open one’s mouth and food will pour in.