The Travancore Tales

By Abhishek Haridasan

What makes food a direct aphrodisiac? Well, it could be the high one receives on biting into a savory delight or a sweetmeat. Blessed are people within India who get to gorge onto delicacies from the vastness that India has.

The southern state of Kerala offers some amazing fare that potentially gets sidelined and de-marketed when it reaches other regions of the country. These dishes are an outcome of fresh spices, copious utilization of coconut oil and ingredients that are plucked out from the lap of Mother Nature. Known as the Travancore region in the erstwhile days of the British Raj and during the governance period of princely states, this region definitely has a lot of dishes that can tickle the taste buds.

Travancore Bound

A train journey from Indore (my adopted hometown) to Cannanore (now Kannur) opens anyone to a world of delicacies waiting to be explored. Before entering Kannur, one touches Kasargod. The cuisine in this town has influences of Konkani, Tulu and Malayali culture that swears by the fresh spices and the coconut oil used.

One gets introduced to the “Kozhi Kaal” or the “Chicken Leg.” Surprisingly, it has no meat involved. This snack is made from fresh tapioca, bunched together with gram flour batter, turmeric, chili powder and ground pepper to bring out the shape of a ‘chicken leg.’ Every piece of this ‘chicken leg’ is deep fried in coconut oil within a huge wok for around 3-4 minutes, to allow the ‘chicken leg’ to fry in well and ensure that the no rawness of tapioca is left behind. These “chicken legs” are allowed to cool for a while to ensure their crunchiness. It is best accompanied with coconut chutney or consumed plain. Definitely worth a try!

On entering Kannur, one finds similar snacks like “Pazham Pozhi” or “Banana Fritters”, where long slices of bananas are blended in gram flour with a hint of sugar, to give a sweet and savory flavor to the snack.

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How can one forget the special coastal delight, i.e. the “Malabari Biriyani?” Matching the ranks of the Hyderabad and the Lucknow variants, the utilization of crunchy onions, with spices and copious amount of dry fruits gives it a different taste all together. The biriyani is best consumed along with an onion or tomato ‘salan’ (mild gravy dish) or with a mixed salad ‘raita’ (a concoction of thick yoghurt with finely chopped onions, tomatoes and cucumbers, garnished with coriander). A heavy yet extremely satisfying meal.

For people with a sweet tooth, the “Ada Pradhaman” kicks in beautifully. Made from rice flakes, milk and jaggery, this dish really takes the ‘cake’ and can challenge the best ‘kheers’ in the business. When served cool with cashew nuts, prunes and pistachios, one is sure to reach a state of nirvana, all thanks to the ingredients and the flavor exuberated.

Kerala does have many more dishes to offer. Looks like God’s Own Country has its own way of gastronomically attracting people towards it.

About Abhishek Haridasan

Abhishek a.k.a ‘Harry’ is a one for the masses. He loves meeting new people and striking conversations that potentially cover the expanse of nonsensical to presidential. Travel and cuisine are always on his mind and he can be seen during weekends, trying a new dish in some part of the ‘planet.’ While he’s not digging into a plate of gastronomical delights, Harry works as a technology marketer and emcees at corporate events. In his opinion, the world is a marketer’s paradise! You can follow Abhishek on Twitter at @Harryrockerz. You can read his blog here.


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