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Sweet and savoury, Kerala has a range of snacks that have stood the test of time and have remained a hot favourite among generations. The best part about these snacks is that they have maintained the authentic recipes over time and are still widely loved and popular among the present generation of Malayalis who grew up savouring them in their homes during their childhood. Here are 10 of the most beloved snacks that are relished by Malayalis as well as visitors from abroad.
Made from ripe plantains, these deep fried golden fritters are a cult favourite all around the state. A classic tea-time companion, they are usually the default combination at almost all tea shops in every nook and corner of Kerala. Easy and quick to make, they are prepared by deep frying long slices of ripe plantains dipped in a batter of flour. It’s important that the plantains are ripe and juicy as this determines the taste of the fritters.
Perhaps the most recognizable and well-known Keralan snack popular outside the state, banana chips are a much-loved savoury treat. They can be enjoyed at any time and are also an easy and excellent travel snack. Made from bananas that are thinly sliced into circles, they are dried in the sun and then deep fried in coconut oil. They are a notable part of Sadya, the traditional Kerala feast.
A sweet delicacy, ada is made of rice powder, which creates a jacket with fillings made up of jaggery and grated coconut. The ada is encased in a small piece of banana leaf and steamed until it is cooked. As it is not very sweet, it appeals to those who do not have a big sweet tooth. It is also consumed as breakfast in some parts of Kerala.
If pazhampori is the sweet accompaniment to tea during evenings, uzhunnu vada forms the savoury partner. These savoury doughnuts are made from the fermented batter of white lentils. Crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, they taste best when hot and freshly made. Some variations also include whole peppercorns and chopped onions. Uzhunnu vada is a ubiquitous item in tea shops and restaurants all around Kerala.
A delight from the Malabar region of Kerala, this is a traditional goody that is surprisingly lesser-known, even within other parts of the state. A mouthwatering indulgence, it is loaded with ingredients such as jaggery, grated coconut, mashed banana, egg white and cardamom, which are all wrapped inside a piece of plantain that is flattened and rolled out to form a covering layer. The outer cover is filled and rolled back into spindle shapes, which are then deep fried.
These cute little hemispheres are sweet in taste and one of the popular traditional snacks that most Malayalis grow up eating. Prepared at home, these are made of rice powder filled with mashed bananas, jaggery and roasted coconut pieces. They are given their characteristic shape by deep frying them in specific moulds in which several can be prepared at once.
Achappam, aka rose cookies, is another glorious homemade snack reminiscent of childhood. It is a beloved snack for children who like to break it into rings and wear them on their fingers. A sweet tidbit, it is made from a batter of rice flour, which is dipped in the characteristic mould and placed in hot and sizzling oil. It is thus that the name is derived, from the word achu, which stands for ‘mould’ in Malayalam.
A layered pastry originating from the Malabar region of Kerala, this tempting delicacy is made in both sweet and savoury forms. Made with flour and egg, it can have any filling of choice, including meat like chicken and mutton. The treat is prominent during Ramadan and is widely consumed at the time of breaking the fast. Sesame seeds, an important ingredient in the cuisine of the Malabar region, are topped on the pathiri.
Also known as chakka kumbilappam, kumbilappam is made with jackfruit, which is mashed into a pulp and mixed with grated coconut and jaggery. The mixture is then wrapped in the leaf of the jackfruit tree and steamed as a dumpling in the shape of a cone, known as kumbili in Malayalam, from which it derives its name. The leaves of the jackfruit are known to stimulate appetite through their peculiar subtle fragrance.
Neyyappam is a small and sweet stuffed pancake made as a variation of Unni appam. It derives its name from neyy, which is clarified butter in Malayalam. It is made from rice flour, stuffed with a mixture of jaggery, roasted coconut pieces, cardamom and milk. It constitutes the traditional tea time snack all around Kerala. Traditionally, it is prepared in a bronze pan called appakkara.