Cooking in Kerala (Top Secret Recipes!)

On our way to Alleppey, the backwaters of Kerala, we stopped in the town of Kochi for a cooking class. We always loved Southern Indian cuisine, it was also the most familiar to us – Dosas, Idli (rice cakes), lentils and Fish.  I really wanted to experience a local cooking class so we booked Cooking2gether. It was hosted by Jaisy, where she invited us into her beautiful southern Indian home and we met her lovely family. We cooked with her in her kitchen and enjoyed our successful dishes in her cozy home! She was so knowledgeable, skilled and such a patient teacher for us rookies. It was a very memorable experience and I highly recommend it if you ever travel to Kerala!

Garam Masala


Ingredients (1 cup = 250 ML)

  • ¼ cup coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp black pepper *remove if you have any digestive issues, increase ½-1 tsp to any other you enjoy the flavor*
  • 1 flower star anise
  • 10 cloves
  • 3 inch cinnamon stick
  • ½ nutmeg
  • 13 pods cardamom
  • 2 tsp fennel
  • 4-7 bay leaf


  1. Firstly, in a large heavy bottomed pan dry roast coriander seeds. Roast on low to medium flame. Transfer to the bowl and allow to cool.
  1. Same as above for cumin seeds. Transfer to the same bowl and allow to cool.
  2. Same for black pepper, star anise, cloves, cinnamon stick, nutmeg and cardamom. Transfer to the same bowl and allow to cool.
  3. Same for fennel seeds. do not over roast as they will lose flavours.
  4. Same for bay leaf till they turn slightly crisp. transfer to the bowl and allow to cool completely.
  5. once the dried spices are cooled completely transfer to the mixer jar and blend to fine powder. sieve if there are too many fibres.
  6. finally, store the garam masala powder in air tight jar and use to prepare curries, dal or chana masala, etc.
*side note: you can buy garam masala in most local grocery stores, for a short cut hehe*

Carrot Thoran



  • Finely chopped or grated Carrot – 1 cup
  • Red Pearl Onions – 5-8 Nos, finely chopped
  • Salt to taste

For Coconut Masala:

  • Grated coconut – ¾ cup
  • Garlic – 1 clove
  • Turmeric Powder – ¼ Teaspoon
  • Chilli powder – ¼ Teaspoon
  • Cumin seeds – ½ Teaspoon
  • Salt to taste

For Tempering:

  • Mustard seeds – ½ Teaspoon
  • Dried Chilli – 1 Nos
  • Curry leaves – 1 sprig
  • Coconut oil – 2 Tablespoon


  1. Coarsely grind together the grated coconut, garlic, turmeric powder, chilli powder, cumin seeds and salt. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a pan and splutter mustard seeds. Then add in the curry leaves, dried chilli and saute for few seconds on low heat.
  3. Lower the heat, add in the grated carrot, chopped pearl onions, coconut mixture and mix well.
  4. Bring everything to the center of the pan and pat down the mixture tightly using the back of a spoon. Cover and cook for 5-6 minutes on very low heat. Stir occasionally to make sure that the bottom is not getting burned. Adjust salt, if required.
  5. Once the carrot is cooked well, remove the lid and stir fry for another 2-3 minutes on low-medium heat.
  6. Serve hot with rice

Kadala Curry (Channa Masala – Kerala Style)




  • 1 cup Dried Chickpeas
  • 3 medium Onion chopped
  • 5 tsp Chopped ginger & garlic each
  • 5 tsp Chilli powder
  • 5 – 3 tsp Coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp Garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp Fennel powder
  • 1 cup Thin coconut milk optional
  • Salt

To temper:

  • 1/2 – 1 tsp Mustard seeds
  • 5-6 Small onion/ Shallots sliced
  • 2- 3 Curry leaves
  • 1 – 2 tbsp Coconut oil


  1. Soak 1 cup chickpeas overnight. Drain the water and rinse them 2-3 times. Boil chickpeas with 2.5- 3cups water and salt. Bring to boil and then simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. When complete separate the chickpeas and stock (cooking water). Take 1/4 cup of cooked chickpeas and add 2-3 tbsp of stock and mash it well. Keep this aside.
  3. Grind together ingredients from chopped ginger & garlic – fennel powder (ginger, garlic, chilli, coriander, turmeric, garam masala & fennel powder) with 3 tbsp water to a smooth paste.
  4. Heat oil in a deep and wide pan. Add chopped onion. When onion becomes brown, add ground paste. Cook for 2-3 mins. Add 2-3 tbsp of retained stock and mix well. Add mashed chickpea and mix well. Add stock and bring it to a boil. Add rest of the cooked chickpeas and mix well. Reduce flame to lowest and cover & cook for 7-8 mins.
  5. Add 1 cup of thin coconut milk (if using) or water. Bring it to boil and simmer for 5-7 mins. Check salt and add more, if required.
  6. In a small pan, heat oil and crackle mustard seeds. Add sliced small onion and curry leaves. Cook till the onion browns. Add this to the chickpea curry.
  7. Let the curry rests for 20-25 mins, before serving. The gravy tends to thicken as it rests, so adjust the consistency accordingly.

*Serve with Puttu, Appam, Chapathi, Dosa etc;

*keeps well in fridge up to 3 days

Grilled Fish


For this you can use any good  fish having nice flesh and hard bones.


  • 1 Fish  (we used Pearl spot-Kareemeen)
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp Chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • Salt – to taste
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Tomato
  • 1 Lime


1.Clean fish and make small cuts on both sides of the fish, same as we do for fish fry.

2.Make a masala paste with above ingredients with little water or lemon juice.

3.Apply this masala to the cleaned fish.Coat the fish entirely both outside and inside evenly.

4.Transfer the marinated fish into a baking dish and keep this in a conventional oven at 350 deg F for 45 – 60 minutes.

5.After 30 minutes of cooking invert the fish for nice grilling on both sides.

6.At the end,for the last 5 minutes broil the fish(convert the nobe of the oven to broil from 350 deg)

7.After broiling switch off the oven and keep the grilled fish in oven itself for 15 minutes.

8.By this time,fry some thinly cut onions and curry leaves and add this to the top of grilled fish for extra flavor.

9.Garnish fish with Tomatoes,Lime and Onion.

Mario and I with Jaisy and her lovely boys!

ENJOY! Your tummy can thank me later 😉

Until next time,

Melly xo


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