I’ve always believed that wellness food is not about fad diets and the flavour of the season. It’s about working on a sustainable, practical diet that doesn’t compromise on flavours. If there’s one thing we learnt during the pandemic, it’s that immunity can’t be achieved overnight. It’s an outcome of lifestyle choices made over a long period of time. It’s the same with healthy food. Work with ingredients that are easily available and are healthy substitutes without obsessing about the calories. A few weeks ago, I was at Amal Tamara, a luxury wellness resort on the edge of the idyllic Vembanad lake near Alappuzha (also known by its former name Alleppey). While the Amal Tamara offers menus that include pan-Indian recipes and international flavours, it’s the dishes from Kerala that stood out for me. I’ve shared the dishes I enjoyed the most and dishes that are also part of my regular lunch diet. These are not just easy to make but also find the balance between wellness and delicious flavours.
Also read: 15 Best South Indian Recipes | Easy South Indian Recipes
Here’re Some Healthy Veg Kerala-Special Recipes:
(Recipes: Courtesy – Amal Tamara, Alappuzha )
1.Cheera (Spinach) Mappas
I normally eat this spinach dish with Kerala Matta red rice. It also tastes delicious with hand pounded brown rice. You could also choose to eat it with ‘polished’ white rice.
- Shallots – 30gm
- Ginger – 5 gm
- Curry leaves- few sprigs
- Coconut milk- 2 cup
- Whole garam masala – 5 g
- Turmeric powder- ¼ spoon
- Coriander powder – ½ spoon
- Cheera (red spinach) -100gm
- Coconut oil -2 tbsp
- Wash, chopped cheera (red spinach).
- Heat oil in a thick bottomed kadai add whole spices, small onions and saute for 3-5 minutes or till the raw smell of the masala subsides.
- Add the red spinach to the kadai and saute well.
- Pour the thin coconut milk, add salt to taste and let it boil.
- Simmer, cook till the gravy thickens.
- Add the thick coconut milk and curry leaves; switch off the flame.
- Serve hot.
I’ve worked on substituting sugar with palm jaggery (Karuppati in Tamil) in my daily diet. The team at Amal uses jaggery to sweeten this halwa, a favourite across India.
- Grated beetroot – 2 cups
- Coconut milk – 2 cups
- Jaggery syrup – 1 cup
- Cardamom powder -1 tbsp
- Cashew nut -10 nos.
- Raisins -10 nos.
- Ghee – 3 tbsp
- Rice powder – 2 tbsp
- Peel, wash and grate beetroot.
- Heat pan, add ghee and saute beetroot for few minutes, then add jaggery syrup.
- Stir well and continue to cook on a low flame.
- Mix the rice powder with thin coconut milk, pour it to the kadai and mix well.
- Continue stirring on low flame until it reaches a non-sticky consistency.
- Finally add ghee fried cashew and raisins, sprinkle some cardamom powder.
- Serve warm!
This is the quintessential mixed vegetable curry in Kerala. This version combines the goodness of seven vegetables. This can also be paired with rotis or dosa aside from rice.
- Black chena (Elephant foot yam) – 50gm
- Kerala banana – 25gm
- Carrot- 25gm
- Cucumber-25 gm
- Yam- 50 gm
- Beans -25 gm
- Cauliflower-25 gm
- Coconut oil – 2 tbsp
- Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
- Coriander powder- ½ tsp
- Chili powder – ½ tsp
- Gram masala- ¼ tsp
- Curry leaves -few leaves
- Grated coconut-1 cup
- Cook black chena till it turns soft. Set aside.
- Saute the coconut, curry leaves, chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and then grind to a smooth paste once it cools down.
- Saute onions in a pan with 1 tsp of oil.
- Add in all veggies and salt. Mix well. Saute for 5 mins.
- Now add a splash of water and cover with a lid. Simmer the pan and cook on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes till veggies are cooked.
- Add in cooked chena and coconut masala, mix well. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Temper the mustard and curry leaves in coconut oil. Pour this into the curry and stir well.
- Serve it hot.
The fish moilee is one of the most popular dishes from Kerala that you are likely to find in buffets across hotels in India. This version is cooked with vegetables with a wonderful flavour profile that includes ginger, spices like cinnamon and coconut milk. Try this versatile, subtly flavoured dish with appams (hoppers) or idiappam (String hoppers).
- Cardamom – 2 nos.
- Cinnamon stick – 1 piece
- Cloves – 2 nos.
- Onion – 2 nos.
- Ginger- 5 gm
- Carrot – 50 gm
- Beans- 50 gm
- Cauliflower- 50 gm
- Potato- 50 gm
- Coconut milk – 2 cups
- Few curry leaves
- Coconut oil – 2 tbsp
- Salt to taste
- Heat the oil in a pan. Add whole spices, onions, curry leaves, ginger and a pinch of salt and cook on medium-low heat until the onions turn translucent.
- Add the turmeric and mixed vegetables with coconut milk.
- Cover and cook about 10-15 minutes until the veggies are tender.
- Add half of the remaining coconut milk, lemon juice and tomatoes.
- Let the moilee come to a slow boil.
- Add the coconut milk and turn off the heat.
- Serve hot.
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About Ashwin RajagopalanI am the proverbial slashie – a content architect, writer, speaker and cultural intelligence coach. School lunch boxes are usually the beginning of our culinary discoveries.That curiosity hasn’t waned. It’s only got stronger as I’ve explored culinary cultures, street food and fine dining restaurants across the world. I’ve discovered cultures and destinations through culinary motifs. I am equally passionate about writing on consumer tech and travel.