Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala


Food habits of any given population are determined by the geographical features of the land they occupy, its climatic conditions, and the people’s aesthetic sense. For example, people occupying a fertile land that yields rich harvests would generally be able to cook with plenty of good things like milk, butter, honey, sugar and the like. And people who are artistically inclined would delectably garnish and decorate their food before serving.

The food that we cook is basically divided into two – vegetarian food and non-vegetarian food. Non-vegetarian food is generally cooked with plenty of spices while vegetarian dishes tend to be comparatively less spicy.

The holistic healing system of Ayurveda, which is diet-based to a certain extent, is one of Kerala’s lasting gifts to the world. Kerala’s culinary habits are also influenced by the principles of Ayurveda, which calls for a proper balance between body and mind. Many Kerala-specific dishes have been designed to help the maintenance of body-mind balance.

Conventional wisdom of the land dictates that improperly prepared food is equivalent to toxic food. For example, combining milk and lemon are unhealthy, and fish should never be cooked with milk. Likewise, it is inadvisable to add sugar or garlic to curds. Though all these rules may not be strictly followed in present-day cooking, they are followed in traditional recipes.

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