The capital of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram, is a coastal region located towards the south of India. Rich in culture and home to the largest IT park in India, Trivandrum, as it is also known, is popular with tourists from India as well as around the world. Nature’s bounty is evident everywhere and is especially reflected in the local cuisine.
With a multitude of fresh ingredients, the food in God’s Own Country is divine. Go during festivals such as Onam and enjoy not only the great culture but the most awesome cuisine the south has to offer. From the familiar Idli and dosa to the exotic fish molee and Naadan beef fry, there is something delicious to try every day and around every street corner. Here is our list of the best street foods in Thiruvananthapuram.
Must-Try Breakfast Items In Thiruvananthapuram
A delicately steamed rice cake, usually cylindrical in shape, decorated with layers of fresh grated coconut and usually served with a chickpea curry; this breakfast dish is historically as traditional as the more popular idli and dosa. Sometimes eaten on its own with a hot cup of sweet, black coffee in the mornings or even at meals with chicken or fish curries this rice cake is delicious and versatile.
If you are in Thiruvananthapuram you will find traditionally prepared Puttu at scores of roadside stalls in any part of city, all doing brisk business from the early hours of the morning, usually till noon and crowded mostly with locals trying to grab a quick breakfast on their way to work.
Perhaps less famous than the ever popular dosa, the Appam is another pancake style breakfast dish easily available at roadside carts and kiosks all over Trivandrum, the capital city of Kerala. Crispy and paper thin around the circumference and getting thicker, soft and fluffy towards the center, this common breakfast pancake is served with various coconut chutneys.
Made from fermented rice, ground to a batter and cooked in a traditional Indian wok called a kadai, these South Indian pancakes are quick to prepare and go down with as much haste. Though you may eat Appams with your fish curry and beef fry, simply on its own as a light start to your day is perfect.
String hoppers or Idiyappam, as they are locally called, is a type of noodle made from a rice flour dough that has been cooked, put through a perforated hand press and further steamed. Served with a coconut based egg curry at breakfast and also enjoyed at other meal times, never will you have found a perfect match for your Kerala gravies.
The banana leaves that they are traditionally steamed on imparting a flavour that is indescribable. Better than trying out these bland noodles that bring your curries alive at a restaurant be sure to visit local vendors around you that still use the methods and recipes handed down for generations.
The humble Idli. There is probably not a city in India where you will not find this simple, fermented, steamed rice cake. Served with hot sambar and chutney at breakfast, you can find carts and stalls, even idli vendors with steel vessels on their heads, selling freshly made Idlis.
Traditionally steamed and served on banana plant leaves, local mom and pop shops offer a taste of authenticity that cannot be easily found in restaurants. Amazing chutneys and rich flavorful sambar are perfect accompaniments and an ideal way to start your day.
5. Ghee Roast Dosa
Dosa is loved all over the world and is by far the best know South Indian dish. There are many variants but the basic Dosa is mostly the same. A mix of lentils and rice, fermented and ground to a batter then cooked on an iron griddle with copious amounts of Ghee, also known as clarified butter, served with sambar and coconut chutney, makes this Thiruvananthapuram dosa a local special.
You can find dosa made almost anywhere in Thiruvananthapuram; if not one maybe two around every corner near the local bazaars and market areas. Standing on the roadside at a food stall eating dosa makes for an experience in itself. You can watch as they skillfully prepare the dosa right in front of you, the most authentic way using pure desi ghee, unlike restaurants that tend to use commercial brands.
Must Try Non-Vegetarian Food in Thiruvananthapuram
6. Kerala Prawn Curry
Spicy and tangy, in a coconut milk base, served piping hot with steamed red rice or appams, Kerala prawn curry will put a smile on your face. Though you will find a multitude of variations all over Thiruvananthapuram, all have similar flavours that make for a warming comfort food.
Being a coastal region with many fishing villages, it is no wonder that seafood is a staple. The number of upmarket restaurants dedicated to serving the best of seafood is abundant; however, if you want a taste of authenticity then the local markets and shopping areas have an equal number of tiny hole in the wall shops specializing in this particular Trivandrum delicacy.
7. Fish Molee
Made with most locally available fresh, seasonal fish, molee is a coconut-based Kerala fish curry unlike the better know and spicy Kerala meen fish curry. With influences, some say, from Sri Lanka and even Malaysia, Kerala Fish Molee is actually quite unique. Moderately spicy, the gravy is made first and fried pieces of fish added to it later.
Fragrant turmeric, ginger, curry leaves and lemon flavor the mild creamy coconut milk gravy. A little bit of green chilli gives it a kick but unlike the familiar meen fish curry, this one is easy on the palate and warming in the stomach. Served with rice or appam, the curry is so delicious you may just have it plain.
8. Varutha Kozhi
Being a coastal region it is no wonder Thiruvananthapuram cuisine uses a lot of coconut. Varutha Kozhi chicken curry, a Kerala specialty, is another example of the way coconut is used in Kerala food. Though made with flavors and ingredients common to many South Indian dishes, this one uses grated coconut that creates a thick rich gravy with a unique texture.
Eat this with Malabar Porotas or Appams and enjoy this truly delightful South Indian delicacy. Mildly spicy and full of aromatic spices, Varutha Kozhi can be found commonly near shopping market areas, and office areas with stalls catering mainly to the everyday working crowd looking for a home cooked style meal at lunchtime.
9. Nadan Beef and Malabar Parotta
This beef preparation is a welcome assault on the senses. Likely to set your mouth on fire and your brow sweating, you will find it hard to put down all the same. Bits of tender beef, stir fired on a hot tava, an iron griddle, and flavoured with curry leaves and hot spices. Most street vendors take requests to tone down the heat but don’t if you think you can handle it. A dry dish, Nadan beef, sometimes called beef fry, is usually paired with Malabar Porotas.
Malabar Parotta, or paratha, is a flatbread rolled in layers and cooked on a tava. Crisp and flaky, porotas with beef fry is a match made in spicy, delicious heaven. Though it can get a little heavy try it you must.
Must-Try Traditional Dessert in Thiruvananthapuram
10. Paal Paayasam
A sweet dish, made with rice boiled in milk and flavoured with cardamom, garnished with dry fruits and nuts, Paal Paayasam is generally made during festivals. Mildly flavoured and refreshing, this traditional Kerala dessert is served either hot or cold.
If you are in Thiruvananthapuram during the Onam festival you are sure to come across this delightful dessert. Market places are buzzing with activity during the festival days and scores of locals with popup stalls selling all sorts of festive treats appear. Be on the look out for this particular one; it’s something you do not want to miss.
So if you happen to be visiting Thiruvananthapuram, follow this quick food guide and be delighted by the flavours of the south. Let us know what else you want to know about the food in Thiruvananthapuram before your trip in the comments.