Vegan Food in Kerala – Southern Part of India
India is a vegetarian paradise and really worth a visit only because of that! You will not only be charmed by the distinctive varieties of spices and smell but also you will be inspired spiritually with Yoga and Meditation.
This time I have visited Kerala, the southern part of India. Kerala literally means – the land of coconut trees. And yes you can find them in every corner and they are incredible cheap and a perfect refreshment! You can buy one for only 30 Rupee which is around 50 Cent. The landscape of Kerala is mainly characterized by its coconut groves on the beaches, the large spice and tea plantations in the highlands and the lush greenery.
Ever since, Kerala has been an important trading center for spices. The principles of Ayurvedic diet had an influence on local cuisine in this area. Rice and tapioca had an important role. Meanwhile, the nambudiri, one of Kerala’s religious communities, eat vegan and avoid garlic, onions and ginger. Typical among them is the court muttokos thoran (fried cabbage). The Muslims in Kerala love to eat thin, flat chapati (indian bread). It only contains whole grain flour, water and salt and is then dipped in homemade coconut milk and enjoyed. Kerala is filled with mixed people of different religions, cultures and lifestyles. The diet is usually very simple. The day begins with yoga and meditation followed with a coconut oil bath. For breakfast, there is idli (steamed coconut rice cake) with coconut chutney, appam (steamed rice pancake) or putr (rice with coconut chips). Whether vegan or not vegan, rice is the basis of all dishes. Curries are made from own gardens grown products such as tapioca, tomatoes, eggplant, herbs and spices. Generally, 3 times a day, you eat warm. In the morning, steamed or baked sour-milkers like dosa, appam, uttapam or idli are combined with a curry dish and the standards Sambar (sweetish sour and spicy vegetable curry with lentils) and coconut chutney. Make sure you don’t have ghee (butter) in the dishes.
At noon it is time for a thali plate. On a metal bowl or classic banana leave around a large portion of rice you will get various curries such as thoran, vadas and chutneys. For the creamy consistency usually coconut milk is used and for frying coconut oil. Avoid the court aviyal (contains yoghurt), kichadi (cucumber yoghurt salad), kaalan (yoghurt curry). Dishes with a very creamy consistency usually contain yogurt or milk. If you are not sure just ask the waiter, they speak english well. In the evening the curries are often served with bread (chapati, parota, roti). The water, which is offered is tap water and should be avoided. Instead buy sealed water bottles or even better fresh coconut water!
All dishes are taken by the locals in combination with a portion of rice or various other side dishes in the most authentic way – without cutlery, only with the right hand. Just try it out! If you eat with your hand use your right hand as the left hand is regarded as unclean. If you like it sweet, try the popular keer or kadalaparippu payasam in Kerala. A sweet, creamy gravy which is made from chickpeas, coconut cream, jaggery (unrefined cane sugar) and ground cardamom garnished with roasted coconut chips, cashew nuts and raisins. It taste sooo good, very mild and simply delicious! In addition to typical local desserts, I prefer the rich selection of fruits that can be found anywhere.
Kerala is rich in nature and full of tropical fruits that needs to be discovered! Driving through the country roads can only mean one thing! Many small breaks. 🙂 The lush greenery and the magnificent scenery often invite you to take a short break to explore the beauty and pick rose apples, cocoa fruit, mango directly from the tree. A dream for every gardener and for everyone who enjoys nature! The people are very friendly and so generous. If you are lucky, you will be invited to eat at a family’s house and you can try the traditional home cooked cuisine. The high educational and life expectancy rate makes Kerala so unique because it is one of the richest states in India.
During my travels I have met so many wonderful people and prepared easy and delicious raw food dishes that everyone can make. This journey was dedicated solely to support locals with their diet and provide them with tools and methods so that they are able to take control back over their diet and also to get another perspective. Sometimes we are caught up in our bubble and new ideas sometimes leads to a new path that helps you grow into the person you want to become. I have been interviewed by asianetnews where I am talking about veganism while doing a raw food workshop.
All in all Kerala has much more to offer than coconuts! The culture as well as the lush and beautiful nature impressed and surprised me very much! The hospitality of the people and their love has touched me. Kerala definitely stole a part of my heart and I already know that this was not the last time in Kerala.
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