Kerala boasts of an incredible culture and culinary heritage that is unique and true to its vibrant history. Ours is a society in which each family proudly possesses unique recipes, cooking techniques and flavour profiles as well. The same dish may be cooked in different ways in a single district. Though we often turn nostalgic about delicious dishes and curries that our mothers and grandmothers used to cook in our quaint kitchens, we hardly realize that such rich culinary traditions are slowly being lost in oblivion.
Kerala dishes enjoy a special position in the menus of Indian restaurants around the globe. Our dishes are grabbing attention and prominence in the international culinary scene for its authentic flavours and healthy ingredients. There would come a time when tourists would visit Kerala just to enjoy our unique dishes. However, there aren't any official facilities to preserve this tradition and pass it down the generations, in all its authenticity.
The candidates who graduate from the government food craft institute are taught to cut the perfect carrot juliennes or how to break down a chicken in proportionate pieces. However, it is equally important to study about the nuances of the traditional cuisine like the differences between the sadya (traditional vegetable feast) that is served in the Malabar region and in the Southern parts of the state. This is the land where, centuries ago, people had discovered that fermented rice batter could be turned into delicious appam if cooked in iron skillets. Incredible job opportunities await Keralites who are experts in cooking the traditional cuisine as the whole world is in awe of the flavours of our dishes.
Like the Kerala Kalamandalam or the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy of the Bhasha Institute, there should be a government owned institute for training young aspirants in the traditional cuisine of our state. I am sure that even foreigners would come to study here. I have been appealing for such an institute at all the venues that I get. Sadly, it has fallen on deaf ears. The unique flavours and dishes of the Travancore, Kochi and the Malabar and also the hundreds of recipes that we have borrowed from around the world should be preserved for posterity.
A Pazhayidam Namboothiri or a Nimmy Paul or a Faisa Moosa should emerge from the new generations as well.
I request the Kerala Chief Minister to take the necessary measures in this matter as soon as possible.
(The author is the corporate chef of Raviz Hotels and has worked in highly acclaimed London restaurants like Hoopers.)