Kerala's Food Evokes Sun, Coconuts, and Curry Leaves

John Kessler

When asked to describe Kerala, the coastal southwestern state of India that is her father’s homeland, Maya Kaimal, an Indian cookbook author and packaged food entrepreneur, suggests two geographically unlikely bedfellows. 

“It’s like the Venice of the East,” she says, painting a romantic picture of cities riven by canals and small passenger boats ferrying people about. On the other hand? “I don’t want to call it Florida, but it’...