20+ Common Snacks of Malayalis

Kerala Cuisine is known for its splendid use of coconut, coconut milk and its oil. Coconut oil is mostly used for deep frying Kerala snacks. However palm oil is also used as an alternative for frying purposes. Through this article, I would like to introduce you to a few snacks commonly available in Kerala. Though a few of them can’t be claimed to be originated in Kerala, they are fondly loved by Kerala people. Uzhunnu Vada, Pazham Pori and Paripp Vada are the most common 4 O’ clock snacks liked by Keralities. Apart from using them as sweets and snacks, they are also prepared as offerings to temples and churches, and also send as gifts to homes. They are also prepared during marriage ceremonies, religious ceremonies, celebrations etc. Let me introduce a few more too.

1. Pazham Pori or Vaazhakka Appam 

Pazham Pori is the most popular 4 0’ clock snack item of Kerala, and is the best combo for tea or coffee. It’s made using Kerala banana (Nendra Pazham) dipped in maida batter and deep fry in hot oil. Sliced lengthy pieces are used. It takes only less time to prepare Pazham pori, and tastes best if well ripen bananas are used. There is a wide range of snacks made using banana, and Pazham Pori/Vaazhakka Appam is most common. It’s called Pazham Pori in middle Kerala and Malabar regions while Vaazhakka Appam in south Kerala. All snacks made from banana are sweet in taste.

2. Vaazhakka Roast or Ettakka Roast

This snack item is commonly available in small hotels in the rural areas of Thiruvananthapuram district. Similar to Pazhampori, Nendra Pazham (big banana) is used to prepare Vaazhakka Roast. A filling is made using jaggery, scrapped coconut and cardamom and it’s filled inside a nendra pazham. Deeply fried in hot oil, one Vaazhakka Roast is enough for one serving. Nendra Pazham also called Etha Pazham is used to made Etha Pazham Payasam and also sweet desserts for kids, where well ripen banana is cut into square pieces and cooked adding jaggery, scrapped coconut and a little water and ghee.

3. Nulliputtu 

Nulliputtu is a traditional snack item of Wyanad of Kerala. It needs only a fewer ingredients and is easy to make. Yet it is delicious and can be served as an evening snack. It tastes best when it is hot. Unlike other banana snacks, Nulliputtu is prepared using small type of banana. Read the recipe here.

4. Uzhunnu Vada 

A common snack of Kerala, it’s prepared using black gram batter. Onions, pepper, ginger and green chillies can be added to enhance the taste, and very often rice powder is also added. Most important is while grinding only less quantity of water should be used, and a hole is made using finger before it is put into hot oil for frying. Uzhunnu Vada is also served with dosa and chutney. White coconut chutney or onion chutney form a best combo of Uzhunnu Vada.

5. Paripp Vada 

Paripp Vada is prepared using Kadala Parippu (Chana Dal) and is a favourite of many. Onions, green chillies and curry leaves can be added to enhance the taste. Red chilli powder is also used. 

6. Unnakai 

It’s a trademark banana snack of Malabar region, mostly associated with Muslims. It is a spindle shaped sweet dessert frequently made during religious celebrations and marriage functions. Nendrapazham is steam cooked and smashed to prepare spindle shaped Unnakai. Scrapped coconut is stuffed inside it. They are fried in hot oil. A few variants of Unnakai are also made.

7. Ulli Vada (Onion Pakoda) 

Its variants are available in north Indian snacks as well. Onion is finely sliced and mixed with flour, green chillies, ginger, salt and curry leaves. Then it is made to small balls or cutlet shapes and fried in hot oil. Maida, wheat, maida or besan are used as flour for the preparation of Ullivada to get different tastes. Besan flour (bengal gram flour) is most commonly used. 

8. Ari Murukk 

This spiral and round shaped snack is a trademark south Indian dish, and quite popular in Tamil Nadu too. Murukku is made using rice flour, black gram daal, adding salt, cumin seeds, sesame seeds etc as per preference. It may be big or small, and it takes the design of the mould used.

9. Achappam (Achu Murukk) 

Achappam needs a special mould for its preparation. The metal mould has one handle. Batter is prepared using rice powder, sugar, sesame seeds and eggs and it is dipped to 3/4th in the batter. Deep fry in hot oil. Achappam is golden brown colour and takes the shape of the beautiful mould. 

10. Neyyappam 

This crispy sweet snack is a trademark Kerala dish prepared using rice flour and jaggery. Palanyankodan banana is added to the batter to make Neyyappam soft. There are many popular folk stories and songs associated with Neyyappam. It’s also served as offerings in many temples and churches of Kerala. Batter is poured into hot oil using a spoon and fried both sides till golden brown. Roasted coconut pieces, roasted sesame seeds and cardamom powder can be added to get good flavour and taste.

11. Unniyappam 

Unniyappam is a derivative of Neyyappam and same batter is used. Only difference is that a separate Unniyappam-maker is used for its preparation. It’s heavy and thick bottomed bowl with small pits inside. Oil is poured into it and boiled well before batter is poured into each round shaped pits. Frying in ghee adds extra taste to Unniyappam. Roasted coconut pieces and cardamom powder are also added to batter. It’s a very common offering in many temples of Kerala. Unniyappam and Aravana Payasam of Sabarimala temple are very famous.

12. Banana chips in different shapes

Banana chips form an integral part of Kerala culture and traditional Kerala sadya is incomplete without banana chips and sharkara upperi. Banana chips may be available in different types – round shaped, 4-cut pieces and long pieces, based on how banana is cut. Raw but well ripen banana of good quality is used to prepare banana chips. Only Nendra Kaaya or Nendra Pazham (Long type Kerala banana) is used for the preparation of banana chips. Sweet banana chips are also used, and slightly ripen (not fully) banana is used for its preparation so that chips taste a little sweet.

Round shaped banana chips is most popular in Kerala, and during Onam season the prize of Nentra Kula (Banana bunches) shoot to rocket heights. In round shaped banana too, two types are available – very thin type, and slight thick with swollen skin. In southern regions of Kerala, swollen type banana is most popular. Asafoetida may also be added to enhance the taste of banana chips. 4-cut banana chips are also available in market. Read the recipe here.

13. Sharkara Upperi  

Upperi – a sweet snack is a combo of banana chips during Onam season, and placed along with banana chips in plantain leaf during Onasadya. Also read: Full dishes of Onam Sadya in Thiruvananthapuram style. Not only during Onasadya, banana chips and sharkkara uperi are included in all type of Sadyas. Both are placed as the first item of all Kerala sadyas, mostly wedding or other regional ceremonies. Jaggery is added to cut pieces of raw banana to prepare Sharkkara Uperi. Only Nendra Kaaya (raw banana of big type) is used. Read to know the recipe here. Upperi is also used as a common snack of Kerala. 

14. Munthiri Kothu and Sukhiyan 

Originally a Tamil Nadu dish, it’s accepted by Keralities as well. Prepared using green gram, Sukhiyan is a variant of Munthiri Kothu. Jaggery and cooked green gram is used as filling of both these sweet items. When Sukhiyan appears as single pieces, Munthiri Kothu forms a bunch of small balls, similar to a cluster of grapes. That’s why it’s called so. Munthiri means grapes in Malayalam. 

15. Modakam 

It’s a typical Kerala snack item made using rice flour and salt. It’s ball in shape deep fried in oil. Cumin seeds and curry leaves may be added to enhance the taste.

16. Cutlets 

Beef cutlet is quite popular among Christians of Kerala. Other variants – chicken and vegetable are also available in Kerala. It’s not a traditional snack item of Kerala, but it’s very common in snack shops and bakeries right now. Minced meat is used for its preparation. Though most Kerala snacks are vegetarian, cutlets and puffs are exemptions. Fish cutlets are also made in Kerala homes.

17. Puffs   

Similar to cutlets, puffs are quite popular in Kerala right now. Made using Maida flour, they are unhealthy. Yet demand for puffs has shoot up in the recent times. Different varieties of puffs are available – egg, chicken, vegetable etc.

18. Samosa 

Samosa is a North Indian snack, which has now found its place in Kerala homes and tea shops. It’s commonly prepared as a vegetarian snack using potato, green peas, beet root etc, and now its non-vegetarian variants are also available, prepared using minced meat.

19. Paal Bun (Milk Bun) 

Bun can be prepared using rice flour. If jaggery is used to add sweetness, it will be brown in colour and if sugar and milk are used, it will be white or light cream in colour. Bun is also prepared using wheat flower. Balls are fried in hot oil with medium flame.

20. Avulose Unda

It’s prepared using fried rice powder, scrapped coconut, melted jaggery and cardamom and kids’ favourite. All these ingredients are mixed together and made to balls before it cools off. Avulose podi made using fried rice flour, scrapped coconut and jaggery is also a nutritious and healthy snack.

21. Ilayada and Thiraliyappam 

Both these steam-cooked items made using rice flour, jaggery and scrapped coconut. Ghee, raisins and ghee can be added to enhance the taste. The batter is placed inside the banana leaves, folded and steam cooked. It’s also made using bay leaves (either vayana ila or karuka ila) to get pleasant aroma. Both these items form an integral part of the offerings at Attukal Ponkala. During my childhood days, both these items used to be a regular snack item of my home. It’s also made in palm leaves those days, not seen now-a-days.

22. Aval Vilayichathu

Aval is a derivative of rice and different sweet and breakfast dishes can be made from it. A little water is sprinkled to aval to soak it. Jaggery and scrapped coconut are added to prepare aval vilayichathu. Ghee, cardamom and raisins can be added to enhance taste.  

23. Kerala Perotta 

And last, but not the least I would like to end the list using Kerala’s ‘National food’ – Perotta. If you want to eat something heavy in the evening along with tea, Kerala Perotta is the best option. Prepared using Maida, it tastes best with non-vegetarian fries and curries. Perotta forms an amazing combination with beef, and one of the most favourite dishes of Keralities. Sambar, potato stoo or green peas curry can be served by vegetarians. Also read: Common breakfast items of Kerala.


Bonda was one common snack among common man years ago. Now it’s rarely seen in small restaurants. Now apart from traditional snack items like Neyyappam, Uzhunnu Vada, Pazham Pori and Paripp Vada, Keralities have also found interest in puffs, cutlets, pizzas, burgers etc. Yes, taste of Malayalis is changing.  

Image source: Self and Wikipedia

Read a few snack recipes here, originally posted in Vanitha Magazine. Click on the images in the gallery to read 
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A freelance writer and blogger by profession since October 2011, interested in writing over a wide range of topics. Hope you enjoy my writings. I belong to one of the beautiful places of the world, Kerala, nicknamed as 'God's own country'.

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