Food Culture Of Calicut: Foreign Flavour To Malabar Food

 - Sakshi Post

By Sradha C Latheesh

Kozhikode is a city with a rich variety of food and fresh tastes. Food plays a vital role in shaping the culture of a city. The people of Kozhikode have made their mark in the field of food, spice, textile, and trade. Foreigners and immigrants crossed the sea for trade and shaped the food diversity of Malabar. Thus Malabar got its taste with a foreign flavour.

The Calicut has been a focal point of spicy food along with the legendary spice route of Vasco da Gama footed here. Centuries ago, his visit to Kerala makes the market for black gold (pepper) on European soils. It can be said that the world recognized our India beyond the continents because of the taste of Kozhikode.

From ancient times, the Malabar has been a major trading spot in Kerala with the connection of the Middle East and Arab countries. Kerala was the spice garden in the world. The traders come from different countries and travelled long distances by sea for unique riches such as Cardamom, Ginger, Cinnamon, turmeric, and pepper. In those days the spices were highly demanded and were also blessed by the Arabs and Europeans. The Romans were the first consumers of pepper in Kerala. The foreigners used the spices not only as a food item to eat but also they were used in oils, perfumes, and cosmetics, etc. the spices had to travel a great distance from Kerala or especially on the Malabar coast, in ships and Caravan, to reach the Mediterranean ports and from there to the market places of Europe. Arabs are mostly benefited from this exchange of spices.

The internal migrants also played a crucial role in influencing the cooking culture of Malabar. The Namboothiri's, who came into the state around the eighteenth century and brought their changes in the taste of Malabarees. The Christians of the 30s and 70s from the central side of Kerala also brought their influences in the flavours. Tapioca, pork, and dishes like the chicken and mutton stew were reached in the Malabar regions with the influence of internal migrants. Christian migrations had a key role in the popularization of non-vegetarian items or meat dishes like mutton, veal, and beef.

The tradition of Malabar is not only notable by its food but also the way of serving it to the consumers.

The taste of Kozhikode is not only to fill the stomach with food and water. The uniqueness of the city is to fill the minds and stomach of those who came to Kozhikode for food without disappointing them. 

No one in the Kozhikode district who does not know the sweetness of SM Street. The Yellow, green, and red Halva shops add colour to the street with varieties of shops on both sides.

The city’s unique heritage of cooking has been influenced not just by the local flavours but also by the influence of Arab culture and interactions with the Middle East.

The restaurants in the city are famous for some delicious and trademark dishes, and a few of them are famous for their tradition. There are some restaurants and shops known for serving delicious food.

The long association with Arabia is the main reason why the district has become a city of food lovers. Today we can find a combination of Arabian flavours in all the major restaurants in the city. Biriyani and Kuzhi Manthi are best sold in Malabar. The traces of Arabian culture can be seen in any corner of the city.  

Kozhikodan halwa

Kozhikode is famous for the sweet delicious dessert called ‘Kozhikodan Halwa’.  It is a sweet made in coconut oil and garnished with nuts and has the flavour of spices, fruits, and coconuts, etc. the rich flavour of coconut oil makes the ‘ Kozhikodan Halwa’ standout from the others. Nuts and dried fruits are inevitable ingredients of it. The well-prepared Halwa has a great shelf life, especially the dried fruit Halwa can last for a month. There are many varieties like white flour halwa, Tender coconut Halwa, Dry fruit Halwa, Banana Halwa, wheat halwa, pineapple halwa, and black halwa. We can feel unforgettable with its flavour.

Kozhikodan pothichoru

Pothichoru is the most savouring item in Kozhikode. All the vegetarians and non-vegetarians can taste the ‘pothichoru’.  Along with rice, pothichoru had chammanthi, thoran , moru curry, Saambar, and pappadam, etc were packed in a banana leaf. For non-vegetarians, fish curry and fried fish are also included.  It really makes a nostalgic feeling when it is packed in a banana leaf.

Appam and mutton curry

Appam and mutton curry is the famous dish in Kozhikode. The hotel Paragon is prominent for appam and mutton curry. It is a healthy breakfast and easy to make. Appam is prepared by taking 2 cups regular rice and 1 cup parboiled rice in water for 4 to 5 hours. Drain it and put it into the grinder. Add 1.5 cup grated coconut, A handful full of cooked rice, ½ teaspoon dry yeast, 1 teaspoon salt and 2 tables spoon sugar.  Add the required amount of water and grind all the ingredients. Grind it to a smooth flowing batter. Pour the batter into a bowl and keep aside for fermenting for 8 to 11 hours. Heat the pan and  Smear some oil on it. Cover the pan and let the appam cook. This is the specialty of Kozhikodan appam. Appam with mutton curry is the best combination 

Kozhikodan Puttu’

Putt is a tasty dish as its name implies. This dessert is one of the most popular breakfasts in Kerala. It is commonly made with rice and shredded coconut. There are several ways for serving it. The most common way of consuming Puttu recipe is serving it with Kadala curry. The combination of spicy curry with a coconut flavoured puttu and puttu with ripe Banana is also an ideal combo for breakfast.


Pathiri is a popular traditional food item made from rice flour. It originated from the Malabar region  especially from the Muslims of Malabar regions. Now a days it is served in all parts of Kerala.  Pathiri is a breakfast and also a dinner. It is very tasty along with a gravy type curry. It is usually served with fish curry and chicken curry. There are many varieties of pathiri like nice pathiri, ari pathiri, erachi pathiri, and chattipathiri etc. Noolputtu or


Iddiyappam is also known as ‘Noolputtu’. It is the taste originated from Kerala and Tamil nadu. idiyappam with kuruma curry is a best combination and  for kids, we can serve with sweetened coconut milk and sprinkle some sugar.The preparation of idiyappam  in Kozhikode style is very simple.  Idli pan or steamer pan is suitable for making idiyappam. At at first, place the rice flour in a heat proof bowl and add little water in it and stir well with a spoon. Then brush the idiyappam steamer or idli steamer with the oil. Fill the idiyapam press an dpress it in to the greased idli steamer and close it with a lid and steam for 5 to 6 minutes. Then turn off the heat and leave the steamer, you can taste the superb break fast and make the day special.


The Malabar biriyani is famous for its aroma and special taste. In Kerala there are distinct types of Biriyani, they are Thalassery biriyani, chicken biriyani, mutton biriyani, and beef biriyani. The Malabari biriyani became so special with the variety of spices like nuts, cardamom, pepper and cinnamon. Etc. It is also serve with Mint raita. The thalassery biriyani became distint from kozhikodan biriyani because of the slight difference in layering and the usage of caramelized onions. The main incredients of biriyani is chicken, rice, ghee, and spices etc.


Kuzhimanthi is one of the Kerala’s favourite dish. It is most popular in Malabar region. It is a delicious Yemeni dish of flavoured rice and meat. Manthi is mainly made of basmati rice. The word ‘Manthi’ comes from the Arabic word ‘nada’ which means dew. It refers a dewy texture of the meat. It is a recent food item which is also a part of cultural exchange. The advantage of this delicious dish is that the meat is cooked without any oil and less spicy also Nahdi Kuzhimandhi is very famous in Kozhikode district.


Sulaimani Chai is a sweet-sour black tea popular in the Malabar region. It is an Arabian origin tea prepared to pure golden colour and is served with sugar, and a squeeze of lemon. People usually drink it after heavy meals such as Biriyani through the Malabar region. It is also a great digestive drink.

The Aalibhais Thattukada is an amazing food court that serves all kinds of seafood. The fried seer fish and rice are available at the Sagar restaurant even late at night also. Beef biriyani of Rahmath, porotta, and curries of Top form, and chicken pottitherichath of Adam’s Chayakkada, etc were the long list in the Kozhikode district.

Milk Sarbath

Baskarettan milk Sarbath is the major highlight in Malabar. The shop in Mananchira, Kozhikode is started by the Bhaskaran and Kumaran over 60 years ago, and now it is run by their sons. It lies opposite the hotel paragon.  This is a unique drink, which is served in the long glass of milk mixed with sugar syrup and essence of the sarsaparilla plant along with crushed ice is very refreshing to drink.

The Avil milk, Kulukki sarbat, Sharjah Sheikh, and Kalanthans cool bar are the city’s own taste. The Pickles and salted fruits and vegetables can be found anywhere in the district. It also has a special taste. It is not only the mangoes and gooseberries but also apples and oranges are also tried by the people. There is one thing that should not be missed in this list, that is Kozhikode's own ‘ice-orathi’ or ‘ice achar’. Beachside is a delicious place full of hand carts. People who came to the beach can taste these things regardless of their age.

There are plenty of small shops available near the seas where the tourists can spend time and enjoy the tastes of light snacks and desserts. The elanchi, poricha Ada, cutlet, and samiya cake. Every item has a distinct flavour in Kozhikode. Numerous food stalls were available at Kozhikode beach.

There are many restaurants and food festivals in the city. Calicut Karachi Darbar is such a restaurant. Roasted items are stored here. The chicken and beef dishes, the Kabab, tikka, and Barbeque variants are high in demand.


The all-time favorite food of Malabarians is the ‘Sadya’. and it is the traditional vegetarian feast of Kerala. The feast consisting of rice, sambar, pappadam, pickles different dishes with savory and spicy curries and is served in a plantain leaf.

Taste of Talenmark souk

Talenmark, the builders of India’s biggest cultural centre is going to open India’s first Arab model souk at Markaz knowledge city which is intended to serve a wide recipe for the Malabarees. The Talenmark souk is the traditional market place that provides an exceptional shopping experience. It includes 150+ shops with 55 business varieties in the line of an Arab Market place. The project which has 123,000 square feet of commercial space on a single floor, has great business potential. The 710 m commercial corridor is one of the main attractions of the souk. The souk is quite different from other commercial malls. Recently Talenmark opened a mini souk in the conventional cum exhibition centre at Markaz knowledge city. It is a miniature version of the Talenmark souk in the cultural centre which is under construction. The mini souk there are varieties of food courts like BBQ, Nahdi Kuzhimanthi, Mathafi, and hotel Sangamam, etc.  It also provides a better shopping experience. All these shops maintain the Arabian culture and heritage of Kerala. It provides a good ambiance for the visitors of Markaz Knowledge City.

Shops in Talenmark mini souk

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