Kinnathappam and Kalathappam, the yummy rice cakes of Kannur


Kannur has always had a bad reputation in Kerala's political map, thanks to its history of political violence. Perhaps for the same reason, gourmets often give the delectable Kannur cuisine a miss. Let’s have a look at some of the mouth-watering snacks from the land of looms and lores.

With an array of treats to satisfy your munchy cravings, Kannur can forever change the way you snack. The most popular of them all are Kinnathappam and Kalathappam. Even though both of these snacks are made of raw rice and jaggery, they vastly differ in taste. People from Travancore often misapprehend Kinnathappam as ‘back halwa’. But, once you taste it, all your misconceptions will vanish.

For Kinnathappam, split and fried Bengal gram is used, while Kalathappam has ingredients such as onion, coconut flakes and cashew nuts. Apparently, Kalathappam won’t stay fresh for more than a day due to its onion content. Kinnathappam, on the other hand, has greater longevity and if preserved in a dry place, will stay fresh for four to five days.

Another must-try delicacy of Kannur is Karayappam, which is a distant cousin of unniyappam. Unlike Unniyappam, Karayappam doesn’t use banana and jaggery and is made of parboiled rice. Karayappam is much like a layered cake, which is white at the top and brown at its bottom.


A review of Kannur snacks would be incomplete without a mention of the ever-favorite ‘ari unda’. The rice laddoo of Kannur, which is made of jaggery and coconut, is often bigger than the ones we see in other parts of the state.

Natives of Kannur, who do not believe in dowry system, never size up the family of their in-laws on the basis of their financial status. Instead, they judge each other by the amount of snacks the in-laws bring to the their house on various occasions such as a girl’s return to her husband’s house after her delivery. Ari unda is one of the go-to snack for all such occasions.

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