Thursday, November 5, 2009

Contradictory food customs in Kerala, India – Cochin Vs Alleppy

Today, I did not prepare any lunch since I got an invitation from Divya for attending her marriage in Tripunithura. Food is an important part of life no matter whether you live in Kerala or Maharashtra. I wrote a post on customs in kerala, a few days ago and my opinions and questions on the topic. I got some opinions on the topic but I am still not convinced. This post is also intended to introduce you to the food customs followed within different districts in Kerala. A proper usage would be the differences in food between Cochin and Alleppy.

Few days ago Sunil gave us a party where he invested a lot on the food. We ate in a hotel attached bar that serves good north Indian food. I am fond of paratha, especially aloo ka paratha so I keep visiting this hotel. We had a heavy stuffed food and left the hotel deciding we will never invest on Parties regardless of who spends the money.

We reached the Auditorium late and the marriage was over. We met Divya, wished the couples and decided to have the food. Dining rooms were filled with people and we decided to join the next batch. We knew it will take 30 minutes for the next batch to try their luck and then continued the normal Joke-sharing ceremony. Soon the rooms were empty and we decided to have food. The food was served on plantain leaves.

My mother spent her life from childhood until marriage in Alleppy and I often attend the marriages in that locality. I never leave any marriage due to my love for payasam(porridge). I would like to introduce the food customs followed in Cochin and Alleppy which are entirely different.

Food customs followed in Alleppy/ Alapuzha

Alleppy better known as Alapuzha is 1 hour journey from Cochin. Though the distance is not long but the customs are different, taste is different and people are different. Marriages in Alleppy serve food with different customs where the food has to be consumed in versions.

The feast starts with parippu( Daal curry) and rice where pappadam(pappad) has to be smashed along with it and consumed. The person who serves the food ask each one about his requirement of ghee which is poured on parippu curry. The combination of rice, pappadam and parippu with ghee is delicious and mouth-watering.

The next step is to use sambar(curry with a combination of vegetables) for the remaining rice and consume it with the other side dishes served on the plantain leaf. The other side dishes include kalan, olan, thoran, aviyal, pickles(mango and leamon achar), banana chips, sharkaravarutty, kichadi, pachadi etc. A portion of rice is kept aside for last process.

The third step is to have porridge. The different types of porridge served in alleppy include pradhaman(porridge), kadala payasam(daal porridge), kadachakya payasam(pinapple payasam/ porridge), semiya payasam(vermicelli porridge) etc. You should use banana along with the porridge. It helps easy intake and reduce the sweetness. Mango pickles(manga achar) are used to reduce the sweetness from pradhaman and narangya achar(leamon pickles) help reduce sweetness of vermicelli porridge.

The last step is to have remaining rice with kaplisheri(kalan + pulisheri)/ moorucurry. You can consume all the remaining side dishes to make the plantain leaf green and clear. People also prefer plain mooru after the final clean affair with plantain leaf.

Food customs followed in Cochin/ Ernakulam

Ernakulam food customs are entirely different. They do not follow any rules and are free for usage. In Cochin parippu curry is served as a side dish and sadya starts with sambhar and rice. You can use pappadam with rice or in pieces one after another, people in Cochin never mind.

The side dishes in Cochin include kalan, thoran, aviyal, pachadi(sweet dish different than alleppy pachadi), ginger curry, achar(pickles including mango and leamon), banana chips, etc.

Second step in Cochin is eating porridge. Here porridge includes pal ada and godambu payasam. You do not have a support for banana in each marriage so pickles are your partners.

The last step is having food using Rasam( a curry with lot of water).

As you can see the food customs in Cochin and Alleppy are entirely different. I have only compared two districts; the customs change as you keep moving far. My policy is to mould according to each custom and fill your stomach with perfect satisfaction.


  1. Is Indian marriage quite expensive? The reason I asked is an Indian guy in a TV series "Saved" said he needed to make more money because he has 4 daughters....and he emphasized "4" so strong that I made me wonder how much an Indian marriage usually would cost.

  2. This is an awesome post. My chechi was telling me about this too as recently they have attended weddings in different parts of Kerala. It's also noted that the menu items would differ based on religion- Hindu vs. Muslim vs. Christian! It's fascinating!!

  3. Re: Angie's Recipes

    They say Indian marriages are costly due to the dowry they have to provide when they get a girl married. It is worth lakhs and crores.

    The gold itself is worth lakhs.

  4. Re: Jennifer

    Yes Jeniffer the menu is different for each marriage. For Muslim and christian marriages normally non vegetarian items are used. Their are no special rules to eat as per my knowledge.

  5. Thanks for the quick answer.
    But what about the groom? Does he and his family need to give some money to the bride's family? I am just curious....I thought he would need to pay lots of bills too...hotel, ceremony, wedding,ect.
    Very interesting...different country, different culture, diferent traditions...

  6. Hey abhi, wat an awesome post...Well written yaar..

  7. Nice post abhi! Well written. There is also a huge difference between hindu , christian & muslim weddings in Kerala.

  8. Re:Angie's Recipes

    Yes groom also has to pay a portion shared from the total expenditure. But gold and jewellery items are purchased max by bride's family.

    Depending upon the family status and money people invest a lot.

    Money goes for purchase of clothes not for bride and groom but also for all the relatives.

    May be I will write another post on thia topic. :)

  9. A nice post. Varieties of food and the order and the way they serve all change according to states and also according to the religion and caste. In Tamilnadu it is a little more different than this.

    The first thing they serve would be salt. then pickle, vegetable pachadi(some times fruit pachadi/salad too), then two types of vegetable currys, one vada for sure, one chapathi or poori and side dish for that, one type of mixed rice(biriyani, lemon rice, ghee rice, mint rice or coconut rice) and raitha for it, paruppu would be served on the bottom right and can be had with plain rice or rasam rice. Then comes More kolambu(butter milk kolambu), then sambar, rasam and last would be curd or butter milk. They would have two sweets on the whole. One paayasam(Rice payasam or semiya etc) and one solid sweet(mysore pak, badusha etc).

    And yeah marriages are pretty expensive in India. It mostly happens for two days. First day would have three ceremonies namely welcoming(varaverpu), Nichayathartham(bethrothal) and reception in the evening.
    Next day would have upanayanam(the rituals for the guy) and muhurtham(the wedding as such).

    So the bride's family have to spend for the hall charges for both the days, food, jewels, dress for the bride and for groom too, then to all the family members, invitation, hall decoration, return gift etc etc..

    The groom has to spend on invitation, dress and just a little jewels for the bride. Thats it. :(

  10. Very fascinating. I really, really enjoyed this post, seeing all these different menus from different customs...

    "My policy is to mould according to each custom and fill your stomach with perfect satisfaction. "
    I totally agree!

  11. Re: Nithya

    Hey Nits... Thank you very much for the comments.

    They were informative and helpful. I never knew about the customs in Tamil nadu. I hope you are well verse with the customs in Andra too.

    The points you mentioned about the marriage are also true as the bride's family spends a lot compared to grooms.
    But it is the fault from the family of each bride who wish to spend more than their friends and fellow neighbours.

    I hope this will lead to a disaster if families take marriages as competitions.

  12. Re: Sophia

    Thank you for the comments.

    I beleive in eating without hesitation, so why to worry about ones custom. The better you adapt them the better you satisfy yourself and your stomach.

  13. I think I will like to eat Cochin style more :D What a lovely detailed post!

  14. Re: Mridula

    Thank you for the comments.
    But I prefer alleppy one. The taste is different.

  15. hi Abhi,
    That was a very interesting post, I'd love to feast on both the types of food as far as my stomach is happy :), it's so true ...if one adapts to all kinds of food's straight pass to heaven!!

  16. informative, and thanks for pointing out the differences. have just mugged up whatever was given. will notice the differences from next time on... that is if my stomach permits ;)

  17. Awesome post and very informative.. very true that each place in kerala has different customs and specialty foods of their own. And yeah, Muslim weddings are a bit different, because they serve non-veg too. But all I remember is that I would get really excited to eat on those plantain leaves, whenever I have attended any of my paternal cousins weddings in Kerala. Because In Bangalore the food is served on decorative plates, not leaves :(

  18. Re: Faiza Ali

    Now a days people also use plastic coated paper leaves that resemble to the plantain leaves.

    People have moulded the customs and try to bring new customs with the old customs as a base to expose wealth and status.

  19. Re: Suparna

    Thanks for the comments

    Re: Rocksea

    Do try it Roxy. I hope it will be a great experience.

  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. Lovely details Abhi..I am from Tvm and going by your post, the food customs in tvm are more similar to alapuzha than Ekm. But the post is a very good take on the differences..

  22. Nice posting!!Wonderful description about food customs!!
    Sadya engane aiyalum adipoli...Njan kazhicholum..:)Kalyana sadhya kazhichu kore naalayi...hmm..enthu cheyyana? I am from thrissur avide sadya customs Ernakulampolee annu.

  23. Nice and an interesting write up abhi...

  24. A very good post as usual.I always have this craving to eat from the banana leaf.Lucky you to have that opportunity time and again.I am gonna follow your blog its too good!

  25. Nice post, Abhi. I sometimes miss the sadya, as even Malayali marriages in Mumbai serve north Indian food.
    I love cherupayar parippu prathaman with mashed bananas and pappadom, with a dash of lemon pickle. I make it at home twice a year.
    Is pineapple called kadachakya in Alappuzha? I thought kadachakka is bread fruit and never knew payasam is made of bread fruit or pineapple.

    In the last paragraph, I think - "I have only compared two states " should read as "I have only compared two districts".


  26. Re: Rohit

    Thanks for the comments and suggestions. Yes you said it right Rohit, most of the customs in Alapuzha are similar to Trivandrum.

    Re: Sushma

    Thanks Sushma

  27. Re: Sangeetha

    Thanks for the comments and suggestions. Yes Ernakulam and Trishur being close have same customs and food serving methods.

    Re: My cooking experiments

    Thank you for the comments and decision to follow the blog. Eating on plantain leaves is for sure a satisfaction for South Indians.

  28. Re: Bindhu Unny

    Bindu, thanks for the comments. Pineapple is known in different names even in places nearby.

    Coming to post. Thanks for correcting my mistake. I have modified the line.


Thank you for your valuable comments. I do respect your opinions.

All the posts are about my life with a pinch of comment on social activities and new discoveries happening around us.

The purpose is to impart knowledge and welcome comments for correction on views, since these are from a single spectator.

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