Though the state of Kerala in India is a mix of various religions, cultures and lifestyles, the diet of the common man is beautifully simple. The day starts with a coconut oil bath. The breakfast consists of steamed rice cakes known as iddli and coconut chutney or puttu with lentils (puttu is coarsely powdered rice filled into a long bamboo tube and steamed) or appam, which is a steamed raw rice pancake. Breakfast, is mostly steamed.
For all people, whether they are vegan or not, rice is the staple food. Curries are made from local garden produce like tapioca root, banana stem, spinach, egg plant, papaya, raw mango, Chembu, Colocasia / Taro / Arbi root, horse gram, and all gourd species. It is interesting to note that many people have started consuming onion and garlic only in recent decades. Butter milk, which is a product created after removing butter from the curd, is also used as a side dish. There is no special dessert except on special occasions when kheer or payasam is made, using whole wheat/rice grains with coconut milk and jaggery (un refined cane sugar).
The dinner menu often consists of porridge. Leftovers from the morning are also consumed. It is an old grandma rule that one should not consume curd or fried foods in the evening. A vegan tourist would have no difficulty while visiting our state, because there are restaurants solely for vegetarians. One need only request that the kitchen not include dairy products in their meal.
The use of leaves from local gardens has improved the health of the common man in the state. Banana stems are rich in fiber and help remove waste and toxins from the body. Root vegetables are planted, and no fertilizer or booster is used. Living a life off the land is thus healthy and natural. Recent changes in lifestyle and an increase in the number of diabetic patients (rice=starch) have, however encouraged people to use wheat in equal or greater proportion to other carbohydrate.
Notes: Wheat in the form of unleavened bread is often limited, whereas over consumption of rice is difficult for some people to control. Hence, people have started consuming wheat. Excess oil, salt, and chilly powders are used in non-vegetarian dishes only. Another cultural point of interest? Food is served on banana leaves on special occasions.
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