Ever since I fell in love with India in February of 2018, I had been dying to visit Kerala. Located in extreme southwestern India between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats, some of the best Indian street food dishes you must eat in India are found in Kerala. I knew that the cuisine was much different from that in other southern Indian states. Because of that, exploring the state known as God’s Own Country quickly became a top priority for me.
My chance to visit God’s Own Country finally came nearly two years later, in January of 2020. I went on an epic, 12-day road trip that took me from the capital of Thiruvananthapuram in the deep south of Kerala to Kasaragod in the extreme north. Then, I doubled back down to Kozhikode to finish out my trip. It was an unbelievable, life-changing experience. I tried some of the most mouthwatering foods of my life and made new friends along the way. I also immersed myself in the local culture and explored the state’s history.
But this article is all about Kerala’s food. From the sensational seafood I enjoyed in Kozhikode to the tribal feast I ate in Thekkady, I couldn’t get enough of the food. The food in Kerala was just as life-changing for me as some of the wonderful experiences I had. I can’t wait to share my favorites with you. These are the top 25 Indian street food dishes you must eat in Kerala, India.
Kerala’s capital and most populous city, Thiruvananthapuram is a large city on the southern end of India’s Arabian Sea coast. As a bustling hub in southern India and the main entry point into Kerala, the city offers an authentic look at life in a southern Indian city and is a dream for foreign travelers to explore. From its bazaars to its temples to its historical sites, this ancient spice-trading post is heaven for foodies. The spices that were traded there as early as 1000 B.C. are still a part of the local cuisine today. You can taste them at several amazing spots around the city.
Beef Curry with Porotta
You know a local eatery has to be phenomenal if they regularly sell out of their most popular dish. That’s exactly the case at Good Morning Hotel in Thiruvananthapuram, which opens at 6:30 a.m. The popular dish here are the porottas, a flaky, layered flatbread that you eat with various curries. Here, you eat them with beef curry. The only problem is, even though they make 700 porottas throughout the morning, they’re usually gone within hours!
After trying their porottas with beef curry, I understand what all the hype is about. The tender, juicy beef is covered in a masala whose bright red color is enough to make your mouth water just by looking at it. You tear off pieces of the porottas to grab chunks of the beef and transfer them to your mouth, and to also sop up any remaining masala on your plate after the beef is gone. It is so intensely flavorful and the best breakfast you can have in the city!
Good Morning Hotel
Poojapura-Karamana Road, near New
Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala 695002
+91 94961 04021
One of the best things about going on a foodie road trip through Kerala is that there are countless unique dishes to try that you can’t really find anywhere else. The bad thing about it is that, with limited time, you can’t try everything. But when you have a sadhya, you get to try up to thirty amazing local Indian street food dishes in one sitting in Kerala!
Mothers Veg Plaza in Thiruvananthapuram is the best place in Kerala to have a sadhya. A sadhya is a large, inexpensive, multi-course meal that is served on a banana leaf. At Mothers Veg Plaza, you’re served a lot of rice, which you take bits of and mix with dishes like dal, mango, ginger pickle, gooseberry, banana chips, bitter gourd chutney, papadum, pineapple chutney, and more.
You can mix dishes to make many different combinations that range from earthy to sour to sweet. Speaking of sweet dishes, dessert is also a multi-course affair that consists of several different types of rice-based pudding called payasam. Each one is completely different from the last and is the perfect cap to a healthy veg sadhya feast!
Mothers Veg Plaza
Bakery Jct Road, near Russian Cultural Center
Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala 695034
+91 471 401 2255
Baby Chicken Fry with Lime Juice
Delicious, spicy food is a given in Kerala, where some of the tastiest meals are also some of the spiciest. Even though this next spicy dish is one you’ll find at a sit-down restaurant, there’s no way I couldn’t include it in my compilation of Indian street food dishes in Kerala. I’m talking about the baby chicken fry at Kethel’s Chicken, one of the city’s most popular local spots.
If you arrive at Kethel’s Chicken for dinner, be prepared to wait, as long lines of locals pack this eatery in the evening. Their famous chicken fry consists of eight pieces of chicken that have been marinated in a spicy masala and fried. They’re served with a bowl of flavorful and fatty gravy for dipping and five chapatis.
The chicken is perfectly fried and you can taste the flavor of the masala through the intense heat. If it gets too much for you, you can dip your chicken and chapati into the gravy, which cools down the heat. Try it with a squeeze of lime juice for an acidic, citrusy burst of flavor!
In order to get to Jatayu Earth’s Center, one of the most popular attractions in the Thiruvananthapuram area, you’ll have to head northwest to the village of Chadayamangalam. Along the way, you’ll pass through the town of Kilimanoor. Kilimanoor is a fast-growing city whose name translates to “land of the bird and the deer.” Travelers looking for a tasty, authentic Kerala breakfast won’t be at a loss in Kilimanoor. You can find one of the most traditional Indian street food dishes in Kerala in town!
When I travel anywhere, I only want to eat local food. The more local and more traditional, the better. When I rode through the town of Kilimanoor between Thiruvananthapuram and the famous Jatayu Earth’s Center in Chadayamangalam, I knew I had to stop at the nearby Hotel Janardana, which offers one of the most traditional breakfast foods in the state, pazhamkanji.
Pazhamkanji is an Indian fermented rice gruel. It’s usually made with rice left over from the previous night’s dinner. The fermented rice becomes tangy and sour. The addition of curd, bird’s eye chilies, mashed cassava, gooseberry pickle, and onion adds creamy, spicy, and starchy elements. Then, the gruel is eaten, with your hands, with chicken curry or a spicy fish curry. The mix of flavors is unreal and easily one of the best Indian street food dishes you can eat in Kerala!
Kuriyodu, Kerala 691534
The beautiful city of Varkala is a northern suburb of Thiruvananthapuram. This coastal paradise is a tourism hotspot that boasts a gorgeous, wide beach that’s backed by picturesque red cliffs. Atop the cliffs is a promenade of shops where visitors can browse for souvenirs and clothing, as well as restaurants. Further inland, there are also amazing street food stalls where you can find Indian street food dishes like this next Kerala favorite.
A quick car ride away from Varkala’s famous beach will take you further into the city, where you’ll get to experience more of its street food culture. The street food stalls in the city offer a variety of tasty dishes, including one I learned is a favorite throughout Kerala: the tata dosa!
Tata dosas are quite different from other dosas you’ll find throughout southern India. They’re still savory and made from an earthy-tasting batter of fermented rice and lentils, but that’s where the similarities end. They’re more or less the same size as typical American pancakes, making them much smaller than the dosas you’ll find in other southern states like Telangana and Karnataka. Tata dosas are also fluffier and doughier then most other dosas and less crispy.
That said, they’re still extremely tasty. They’re served with a spicy, watery chutney that is poured on top of them, which soaks into the soft dosa and infuses them with lots of delicious flavor. I couldn’t get enough of them!
Check out my 24-Hour Houseboat Experience in Alleppey, Kerala, India travel guide!
The coastal city of Alleppey, also known as Alappuzha, was an important spice trading post during the 16th century. The Portuguese used the nearby Kerala backwaters to transport black pepper and other spices from the Idukki District through the port at Alleppey and back to their home country.
These days, Alleppey is best known as the gateway to the backwaters, which is made up of a complex network of interlocking lakes, rivers, lagoons, and canals and has become a popular tourist attraction. Great food can be found nearly everywhere in the Alleppey area, from the city itself to the canal-side convenience stores to the houseboats that cruise its waterways.
Puttu with Fish and Duck Curries
While I didn’t get a chance to eat many Indian street food dishes in Alleppey, Kerala, I did find some exceptional food at some sit-down restaurants in the area. One of these, Hotel Brothers in the city, serves an amazing and grainy cake made from brown rice flour and grated coconut called puttu. The puttu is the perfect complement to their rich fish and duck curries.
The fluffy but dense puttu is slightly sweet due to the coconut and pairs perfectly with the reddish and mildly spicy fish curry. The flaky, tender meat of the fish melts in your mouth, while the fatty and peppery duck is smooth and buttery. Combined with the puttu, they’re like a flavor bomb in your mouth!
General Hospital Junction
+91 477 233 8844
Toddy Shop Seafood Feast
Just outside of Alleppey, along the route that takes you toward the Thekkady area of the state, is a hidden gem that you may have to spend some time searching for if you don’t already know it’s there. This gem, called New York Toddy Shop, is an authentic local eatery that offers one of the most remarkable southern Indian feasts you’ll find anywhere in the country!
There, you can order a seafood feast that includes crab with gravy, fried river fish, freshwater fish in a creamy gravy, spicy mussels with chilies and onions, and puttu. You can also try a fermented coconut wine called toddy as well as appams made with toddy!
There are few Indian foods more magical than southern Indian seafood, so it should come as no surprise that this is one of my all-time favorite meals ever in the country. The freshwater fish is tasty but bony, so be prepared to dig through it meticulously before you dive in. The fish fry is also amazing, with a nice, spicy batter and tender meat.
You have to work to get the crab meat out of its shell, but once you do, the combination of crab and puttu is astounding. But the one dish that surpasses them all is the spicy mussels with chilies and mussels, which is so divine, it’s like it was sent down from heaven!
New York Toddy Shop
+91 81118 56669
During India’s spice trade, the area surrounding the town of Thekkady was ground zero for Portuguese explorers looking to profit off of the many Indian spices that grow there. This forested, mountainous area in the Idukki District is also a prime tea- and coffee-growing region.
It’s home to a wide array of animal life, which range from elephants to tigers to cobras and is also exceptionally rich in culture. After you explore Periyar National Park and check out a Kathakali or Kalaripayattu performance, you must also check out its exceptional food scene.
Idiyappam with Chicken Stew
In the town of Kumily in the Thekkady area is the Woodnote Resort, a fantastic, modern resort that boasts beautiful, comfortable rooms and some of the best food in the Idukki District. Their on-site restaurant, Drizzle, is a great spot to enjoy dinner, but their breakfast options are equally wonderful. I recommend having their idiyappam (also known as string hoppers) with chicken stew.
Idiyappam is a rice noodle dish that also contains fresh coconut and coconut oil. They’re thin, sweet, and delicate, and pair nicely with their chicken stew. The stew contains hearty chunks of chicken, curry leaves, cinnamon, star anise, a generous amount of coconut milk, and much more. The sweetness of the rice noodles, combined with the warming spices and gentle spice of the stew, is utter perfection!
Kumily, Kerala 685509
+91 79029 99502
Mannan Tribal Feast
I’m always on the hunt for unique experiences that combine two of my greatest passions: food and culture. It doesn’t get more unique or more authentic than enjoying a feast cooked by four members of a mountain-dwelling tribe in the forests outside of Pandikuzhi.
During our feast, which was cooked and eaten in a forest clearing, we enjoyed roasted tapioca, barbecued fish, chicken curry, and spinach. We also enjoyed a unique dish called ragi, which is a sticky, purple paste that is so thick, you have to lick it off of your fingers.
Everything was expertly made, from the smoky fish to the earthy tapioca. The spinach with onions had my mouth watering, as did the tasty chicken curry. They were all very flavorful but light on spice, but the real reward was the experience. It doesn’t get much better than this for a traveler like me.
The popular honeymoon destination of Munnar in Kerala’s Western Ghats is a hill station located at the confluence of three rivers. It is characterized by its endless tea plantations, including the highest-elevated tea plantation in the world, and magnificent mountain sunsets that make it famous. Exploring the city itself is quite an adventure, as there are lots of Indian street food dishes to dive into in this part of Kerala, each of which will have you craving more!
Highland Jungle Food
Another thrilling outdoor food adventure I had in Kerala took place in the forested mountains outside of Munnar. In the lush highland jungles, I enjoyed an incredible highland jungle food feast, prepared entirely by locals, that blew my mind. The only thing is, you either have to be lucky to find them or you have to get an invite through a friend like I did.
This incredible meal consisted of mutton soup, kanthari chili prawns, beef fry, mutton leg, beef liver roast, and pumpkin payasam. The locals who prepared the feast used local highland spices like coriander, curry leaves, bird’s eye chilies, star anise, mead masala, and more.
Together, they made everything from the fiery prawns to the fatty and decadent mutton leg one awe-inspiring food experience after another. If you ever get the chance to have highland jungle food in the mountains near Munnar, you must take advantage of it!
Check out the Top 15 Things to See and Eat in Trivandrum, Kerala, India
Among the street food stalls and shops you can find in Munnar Town, you’ll come across more specialized shops that sell mostly one thing, or a variation of one thing. One of these shops is M.S.P. & Sons Homemade Chocolate, which makes some of my favorite chocolate I’ve ever eaten in India.
I’m a big fan of chocolate. Dark chocolate is one of my favorite sweets, and the kind you get at this shop is outstanding. Of the 21 incredible chocolate varieties they sell, their pure dark chocolate and dark chocolate with crisp rice really stand out. They also make outstanding white chocolate and a bar of sensational white chocolate with crispy rice. Their chocolate is right up there with Swiss chocolate in terms of taste and quality!
M.S.P. & Sons Homemade Chocolate
Abbas and Co.
Tea and Spices 25
Main Bazaar, Nullatanni
Munnar, Kerala 685612
Located along the Laccadive Sea coast in Kerala is the city of Kochi. This historical port city was an essential spice trading hub during ancient times and was known to the Greeks, Syrians, Chinese, Arabs, and Jews. Known as “the Queen of the Arabian Sea,” Kochi later became the first European colony in India in the early 1500s. Its historical area, Fort Kochi, is a major draw among tourists today, where you can see the elegant Chinese fishing nets along the shore and the famous St. Francis Church, the first European church built in India. Of course, as you explore, you’ll come across some amazing Indian street food dishes in this major city along coastal Kerala as well.
During your time in Kochi, there’s no better place to stay than the Coral Isle Hotel, which offers beautiful, clean accommodations in the middle of the city. It’s also a great place to eat, as the hotel has a rooftop restaurant called Upper Berth, which serves a lip-smacking prawn curry.
This succulent seafood creation includes coconut paste, onions, chilies, black pepper, and curry leaves, so it has a rich, tropical flavor and a nice kick of heat and acidity. Midway through cooking the curry, the cooks wrap the prawn curry in a banana leaf and place it on the grill, which adds an earthy, unique flavor to the tender prawns and smooth, creamy curry. You eat it by itself with your hands, but I thought it could have been even better with a parotta!
Coral Isle Hotel
St. Benedict Road
North Railway Station, Near
Kochi, Kerala 682018
There are countless variations of dosas in south India, and new ones are invented all the time. One of the newer ones can be found at a start-up food truck that sells dosas out of the back of a tuk-tuk! Unfortunately, that makes this next dish tricky to track down, but if you’re lucky enough to find them, be sure to try their amazing egg dosa.
Like the tata dosas I enjoyed in Varkala, this dosa is light and fluffy, much like a savory American pancake. The thing that makes this dosa different from all others I’ve had is the fact that an egg mixture containing chilies, onions, and spices is poured over the dosa as it cooks on the grill. The eggs melt into the dosa so much that it’s hard to tell where the eggs end and the dosa begins, but the flavor is truly unbelievable, especially when you have it with tomato chutney!
Beef Dry Fry and Chicken Fry
As you continue exploring Kochi’s incredible food scene, you’ll likely come across a pair of local favorites that are great on their own and phenomenal when eaten together. These two dishes, beef dry fry and chicken fry, can be found at a popular street food stall along a busy street in the middle of town.
These crispy, meaty dishes are tasty and fried, but still retain a freshness that I found remarkable when I first tried them. The beef dry fry (fried beef that contains no wet ingredients) is crispy on the outside but moist on the inside, while the flavor-rich masala on the chicken fry takes it to a whole new level. They’re the type of dishes that would be perfect with a cold beer!
Sea Bream with Masala and Prawn Roast
As a bustling port city in India, Kochi is an amazing place to try seafood. Its seaside markets are a constant flurry of activity and are the perfect spots to purchase your own fish, which you can then take to any restaurant in the port area for them to cook for you.
That’s exactly what my good friend Ebbin and I did after buying a sea bream in a local fish market. The restaurant we took it to coated our sea bream in an aromatic masala and grilled it, and then served it alongside rice, dal, and a delicious prawn roast. The fish was flaky and tender on the inside but nice and crisp on the outside. I also must commend the prawn roast, which was succulent and full of spices, and the dal, which had a nice, earthy flavor. It’s one of the best Indian street food dishes you’ll find in Kerala!
Check out the Things to See, Do, and Eat in Varkala, Kerala, India
The city of Thrissur dates back to the Sangam Age, a time period that took place between the 6th century B.C. and the 3rd century A.D. It was the capital of the Cochin Kingdom at one point and has grown over the years into the cultural capital of Kerala.
Its famous Thrissur Pooram festival is just one of many of the ways the city leans into its religious, cultural, and spiritual leanings, and the city is also home to many Hindu, Christian, and Islamic houses of worship. And when you get hungry, you can find one of southern India’s tastiest pork dishes just south of the city!
Tapioca with Pork
I passed quickly through Thrissur on my way from Kochi to Kozhikode, so while I didn’t get to see much of the city, I did get a chance to sample its culinary offerings. Roughly 10 miles south of Thrissur is a roadside stall along the main highway that sells amazing tapioca with pork.
The starchy root vegetable is mashed and contains coriander, onions, and a nice amount of pork fat. It also contains nice chunks of fried pork, which tastes very similar to bacon. The buttery tapioca almost tasted like mashed potatoes, and the entire dish reminded me of the mashed-potato-and-pork dishes I enjoyed while traveling through parts of Latin America. There is no doubt on my mind that this tapioca with pork is one of the best Indian street food dishes in Kerala, India.
As you continue driving north toward Kozhikode, you’ll pass through a town called Kottakkal. This town was once home to a medieval military base belonging to the Valluvanadu Kingdom as well as several forts and castles.
Now, this town just southwest of Malappuram is mostly known for its Arya Vaidya Sala facility, which specializes in traditional ayurvedic treatments. But while I didn’t get to enjoy any Ayurveda while in Kerala, I did pass through Kottakkal long enough to try a different type of local favorite.
During my quick stop in Kottakkal, my good friend and guide extraordinaire Ebbin took me to a spot that seemed to be a local favorite called VH Avil Milk. There, they sell another of my favorite Indian street food dishes in Kerala, a creamy, cool treat called avil milk!
This amazing drink exemplifies what I love about Asian desserts. Avil milk is essentially a cold, Indian milkshake that contains ice cream and milk. It comes in tons of different varieties, all of which offer something slightly different. Their nutty Dry Fruit avil milk contains dried fruit, honey, puffed rice, pistachios, and cashews and is super sweet and decadent. For an even more refreshing avil milk, try the Special, which mixes coconut ice cream, basil seeds, and fresh kiwi, pineapple, and banana! It’s out of this world!
VH Avil Milk
Kurukathani – Kottakkal Rd
Kottakkal, Kerala 676503
+91 90377 19855
If you’re heading north to Kannur, be sure to take some time to stop and spend at least a few hours in the historical city of Thalassery. Back in the 18th century, Thalassery went by the name Tellicherry and was the third-largest city on British India’s western coast.
Tellicherry was a prominent trade center and was also the home of Tellicherry Fort, which was built on the city’s outlying hills by the British to protect their factories. Today, Tellicherry Fort is among the city’s top attractions, but people also visit Thalassery to try its famous biryani!
Thalassery Dum Biryani
There is a third city in southern India that deserves to be in the same conversation as Hyderabad and Kozhikode when it comes to biryani. Yes, Thalassery also has its own variant of the layered rice dish that is beloved throughout India. To try Thalassery’s best biryani, head over to Paris Restaurant.
Thalassery biryani is especially fragrant, as you can smell the unmistakable aromas of ghee, coriander, and fried onions as it cooks. The biryani isn’t particularly heavy on spices, but still manages to be filled with flavor with additional ingredients including raisins and some of the most mouthwatering chicken I’ve ever had in a biryani. It’s served alongside mango pickle, a dry coconut chutney, and a creamy yogurt salad with curry leaves and onions.
The mango pickle adds a sweetness and a sour flavor to the rice and chicken, while the dry coconut chutney provides a burst of coconut flavor. The yogurt salad, too, contains a bit of acid and spice. They all work in concert with one another, bolstering the already fantastic flavors of the biryani. It’s one of my favorite Indian street food dishes in Kerala and is definitely among the top biryanis I’ve had in my life!
Mattampram Road, NH66
Thalassery, Kerala 670101
+91 490 232 0370
Cocktail Frozen Mixed Drink
Before you travel to southern India, one thing I must stress to you is just how hot and humid it is. And that’s coming from someone who has lived in heat and humidity my whole life, being a Miami native. The daytime temperatures in Kerala soar well past 90 degrees Fahrenheit almost daily, so you’ll probably need something to cool you off, like the Cocktail frozen mixed drink at Firoz Cool Bar in Thalassery.
The Cocktail is somewhat of a cross between a slushie and a smoothie, as it contains milk and is made with fresh fruit, but it also contains chunks of broken-down ice. The papaya, banana, dried fruit, and pomegranate seeds in the Cocktail make it sweet and refreshing, while the carrots and nuts add a bit more earthiness. It’s healthy, tasty, and the perfect drink to cool you down in the oppressive heat!
Firoz Cool Bar
Thalassery, Kerala 670103
Near Kerala’s northernmost tip, you’ll find the city of Kasaragod. There, you’ll find beautiful natural landscapes and picturesque trekking trails in the Western Ghats, as well as sites like the Malik Deenar Mozque and Ananthapuram Lake Temple. History lovers will jump to explore its two popular forts, Bekal Fort and Chandragiri Fort. It was also the site of an Indian wedding I attended in January of 2020, where I had the chance to enjoy some spectacular Indian street foods that are unique to Kerala!
Indian Wedding Feast
Obviously, scoring an invite to an Indian wedding as a tourist will be difficult unless you have a local contact who can take you to one. Luckily for me, my friend Ebbin has connections all over Kerala, so he took me along to see a pair of his friends get married in Kasaragod.
After touring the kitchens and watching the cooks prepare massive vats of Kerala dishes meant to feed 1,500 people, I got a chance to enjoy the fruits of their labor. They cooked an amazing beef curry, which you eat with a flatbread called neypathal, a delicious and fatty duck curry, a creamy chicken biryani, and a mild but flavorful chicken 65.
Dessert consisted of a halwa with ice cream, pineapple, and blueberries. The halwa reminded me of carrot cake, and the ice cream and fruit were both refreshing and sweet!
Check out the 10 Things to See and Do in Thekkady, Kerala, India
The city of Kannur in Kerala’s North Malabar region pre-dates India’s colonization and got its name from a temple dedicated to Kannan (a Tamil name for Lord Krishna) that once stood on the site of the city. After it was colonized, though, the city then took on its Portuguese name, Cananor, and the Anglicized Cannanore.
Now independent, Kannur is one of the most beautiful and fascinating cities on Kerala’s Arabian Sea Coast and boasts amazing fish markets, stunning beaches, one-of-a-kind cultural ceremonies, and some of the tastiest Indian street foods in Kerala!
Puttu with Beef
When you travel through Kerala, I implore you to go out and explore Kannur’s street food scene at night. I ate so many amazing dishes in the city during my time there. Kannur is a gastronomical paradise for travelers. One of the best dishes I ate there was puttu with beef curry.
This beef curry was something special. It contained chilies, carrots, onions, cucumbers, and lettuce, and the curry was rich and full of spices. The steamed rice flour cake called puttu is utter perfection with the beef curry and chilies. The mix of spicy from the chilies, sweetness from the coconut in the puttu, and the freshness of the vegetables was almost overwhelming for my taste buds. Imagine a meaty polenta with vegetables. It was unbelievable and is one of my top Indian street food dishes not just in Kerala, but in all of India!
Mussel Pepper Fry
I personally recommend staying in Kannur multiple nights because the city offers way too much for you to only pass through or stay one night. I suggest the Seashell Haris Beach Home, a beautiful, homey resort located along one of Kerala’s most gorgeous beaches. If you head out to the local fish markets while you’re there and bring back some mussels, the cooks at the resort will fry them up for you!
During my stay, the owner, Mr. Haris, bought the mussels, and once we got back to the resort, we were treated to an unreal spicy mussel pepper fry that contained Kashmiri chilies, turmeric, pepper, ginger-garlic paste, and curry leaves. The heat from the chilies, the zesty ginger, the potent garlic, and the unmistakable flavor of the curry leaves all came together in a beautiful way, tantalizing different taste buds on my tongue and leaving my mouth watering with every bite.
Seashell Haris Beach Home
Adi Kadalayi Nada
Kannur, Kerala 670003
Kozhikode was known as Qāliqūṭ by the Arab merchants it traded with early in its history. It was later called Calicut by the British much later. Regardless of its name, it has been one of the many important port cities along the Malabar Coast for centuries. After the city grew into an essential spice trading post, people began to refer to it as the “City of Spices.”
Kozhikode is also known as the city where Vasco da Gama, the famed Portuguese explorer, landed after being the first Westerner to travel to India by sea. That history can be explored thoroughly in the city, as can Kozhikode’s beaches, mosques, markets, and restaurants, where you’ll find some of the best Indian street food dishes in Kerala!
While the city of Hyderabad is often the first place that comes to mind when people talk about outstanding biryani, there are cities in Kerala that deserved to be in those conversations, too. One of them is Kozhikode, where you can get a taste of Calicut biryani at Kuttichira Biriyani Centre.
This layered rice dish is made with short-grain rice, which makes it different from Hyderabadi biryani and most others you’ll find around India. Its multiple layers include layers of rice and a layer of chilies, garlic, tomatoes, ginger, and onions. There’s also a layer of cashews, coriander, and crispy onions and a layer of your protein, which is usually either chicken, buffalo, or fish.
I highly recommend trying the buffalo and chicken biryanis. Get half-portions so you can try and enjoy them both. The slow-cooking process leaves the buffalo and chicken so tender that they melt in your mouth. It also helps that the meat is organic, so it’s fresher and tastier. Both biryanis are served with curd and a mint-coconut chutney with a spicy kick. The mix of creaminess, tropical flavors, and heat makes these biryanis a can’t-miss!
Kuttichira Biriyani Center
Gujarati St, Kuttichira
Kozhikode, Kerala 673032
Beef Biryani (half portion): 90 rupees/$1.18 USD
Chicken Biryani (half portion): 100 rupees/$1.32 USD
There are several outstanding offerings at Modern Restaurant in Kozhikode. They include a spicy and tropical fried squid called kallumakkaya and fried kingfish. But if biryani is what you’re all about, then you must try their mackerel biryani. Because Kozhikode is a port on the Arabian Sea, the seafood there is extremely fresh and never frozen.
This was my first time having fish biryani. The tender, flaky fish is fantastic with the short-grain rice. It’s the perfect marriage of textures and the flavors are outstanding. Make sure you try it with pineapple with mint on the side, as their flavors bolster the flavors of the biryani. The only downside to this biryani is the number of small bones and spines, which I’m always wary of ever since I got one stuck in my throat years ago. But the meat is so good that it’s worth it to slowly pick through the fish!
Kozhikode, Kerala 673001
Green Pea Masala
Kozhikode Beach is beautiful on clear, sunny days. The sand stretches on for miles and the sapphire-colored waters of the Arabian Sea are dazzling to look at. But, in my opinion, the best time to visit the beach is at night, when the street food stalls open. There aren’t many great dishes there if I’m being totally honest. However, there is one I can easily recommend to everyone: the green pea masala.
This mind-blowing veg dish is made up of cabbage, green peas, onions, eggs, and spices. It’s like an Indian version of coleslaw with a hint of cumin flavor. The green pea masala is served with a wedge of fresh lemon. Squeezing the juice over the dish adds a zesty, citrusy element to the crunchy, flavorful vegetables. The cumin seeds tie it all together to make a healthy, tasty dish you must try. It’s one of the best Indian street food dishes in Kerala, for sure!
Check out the 10 Things to See and Eat in Kozhikode, Kerala, India
Kerala may be known as the Land of Coconuts, but I think an equally good nickname would be Land of Flavor. Because that’s what you get when you dine in this southern Indian paradise. Whether you’re looking for a spicy mussel curry or a creamy avil milk, Kerala has something to offer every traveler. There’s so much variety that you could travel there for months and still only scratch the surface of the Indian street food dishes in Kerala. To explore the food culture in Kerala, book a trip to Thiruvananthapuram today!
I have to thank my friend Vishnu for taking two days to show me around Thiruvananthapuram, Kilimanoor, and Varkala. He helped me kick off my Kerala adventures with a bang and showed me a great time. Follow him on Instagram here!
I also must give a huge shout-out to my buddy and fellow travel/food vlogger Ebbin Jose. He showed me around his home state of Kerala for ten straight days. From Alleppey to Kozhikode, he helped me organize the bulk of my Kerala itinerary. Most of my Kerala articles and episodes would not have been possible without him. Follow him on Instagram and subscribe to his food and travel channel on YouTube!
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