Spirit Of The South

[an error occurred while processing this directive]"The only Kerala dish without curry leaves is boiled rice," jokes chef John Samuel, tossing spices into a bubbling pot of coconut and cashew curry. Bright and aromatic, southern Indian cooking is a revelation to palates dulled by ghee-laden northern Indian dishes. And nowhere does this explosion of flavors converge better than in the southwestern state of Kerala.

Its lush coastline has been a magnet for seafarers for centuries, and its cuisine still reveals Portuguese, Jewish and Arab influences. These join a native storehouse of ingredients rich with Ayurvedic properties: turmeric is said to be...

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