South Indian food is known for the use of generous coconut in their curries. Other basic and common ingredients include curry leaves, mustard oil, red chillies and oil etc. Here we have tried to demystify and explain the different cuisines of South India. Have a look!
South Indian Cuisines
Telugu and Andhra food is the spiciest amongst all cuisines. They use tamarind and chilli generously, hence, making the food really hot and tangy. They majorly use lentils and coconuts in their recipe. But even here, Hyderabad is an exception which is known for its very delicious Hyderabadi Biryani. Other popular items include pesarattu (mung bean pancake), pulihaara (tamarind and lemon rice), thotakura (amaranth–pigeon pea stew) pappu, dosakaya (yellow cucumber – pigeon pea stew), sakinalu, rawa laddu etc.
Karnataka has a diverse cuisine but the food in all is considered to be the mildest when it comes to spiciness. They use chilli, jaggery and palm sugar generously. Here the food has several subcategories-
- North Karnataka Cuisine is mostly prepared with rice and millet. They also use a lot of spices and take a variety of chutneys and pickles with their food.
- Coastal Karnataka Cuisine is most seafood based. Chicken, Fish and Meat is essentially prepared in coconut oil and coconut curry and are served with rice which is the staple food.
- Coorgi Cuisine is again very distinct. Pork is their favourite and most commonly used meat. They also use a lot of kokum in their food preparations.
- South Karnataka Cuisine is also known as the Old Mysore Cuisine where the stable food is rice and millets. The curries are thick and sweet and sour and are served with steamed rice. Mysore Pak is a popular specialty of the place.
Kerala cuisine is the most popular cuisine, not just in the region but all across the country. The favourite ingredient of Kerala is coconut and they use it in all their dishes either in the form of oil or milk or whole. Seafood is also very popular in this region. Typical Indian Masala Dosa is a product of this cuisine.
Tamil Nadu Food
Tamil Nadu food is a combination of spicy and non spicy dishes. People generally consume non vegetarian curries with steamed rice. The food is majorly Saiva (vegetarian food) and Asaiva (non- vegetarian food). They also have various snacks like Medu Vada and popular desserts like Payasam, to their credit. Chettinad cuisine is a famous subdivision of the Tamil Nadu cuisine that is known for its spicy and aromatic dishes. The hot, pungent dishes are sprinkled with ground spices
Top 12 South Indian DishesOnce you have decided on the cuisine that you want to have, here is a list of the top 12 South Indian dishes that you must absolutely try.
Dosas are not only the traditional breakfast of South India but also the most popular comfort food all across the country. They are prepared when a batter of fermented rice and lentils is smeared on a pan. Masala Dosas have a filling of aloo sabzi inside them. These days you can try different variants of dosas like rawa dosa, tomato dosa, cheese dosa and more.
2. Idli Sambar
Soft and fluffy white idlis are another breakfast option in South India. Idlis are also prepared with a batter of fermented rice and lentils. This batter is put in circular moulds and steamed on a stove. Idlis are served with hot and tangy sambar, coconut chutney and gun powder chutney. The fluffy delicacy is soft and easy on the digestion.
3. Medu Vada
Medu Vada is a circular brown, doughnut like dish that is served with chutneys. The dough is made, shaped and deep fried in oil to give it a perfect colour and a crispy and crunchy taste. The dough is made with a batter of black lentils, peppercorns, curry leaves, red chillies, cumin and other spices.
Uttapam can also be described as salty and spicy pancake. It is made with a spicy and tangy batter of fermented rice and lentils that is mixed and topped with shredded onions, tomatoes and green chilies. Nowadays, you can find several variants of uttapams like tomato uttapam, cheese uttapam and more.
5. Fish Molee
Fish Molee, also known as Fish Moolie is a speciality of Kerala and it tastes heavenly. Made in coconut milk and traditional spices, fish molee is best served with appams. Reminding of traditional Portuguese flavours, this fish stew has mild spices and is one of the most prominent dishes of the state.
6. Kerala Prawn Curry
Kerala Prawn Curry is the signature dish of Kerala that is infused with mildly spicy, hot and tangy flavours. The scrumptious dish can be devoured with a Malabari Parotha, bread, rice or appam. The curry is prepared in coconut milk and is sometimes topped with raw mango shreds and peppercorns.
7. Bisi Bele Bhaat
Bisi Bele Bhaat is a traditional Karnataka dish. It is made when steamed rice is cooked together with toor daal, vegetables and spices. It is a regional counterpart of north Indian “khichdi”. The dish is best served with boondi raita, chutney, salad, papad or potato/ banana chips. It is a part of the Udipi cuisine.
Payasam is a hot favourite of the South Indian when it comes to desserts. It is an authentic rice based “kheer” that is made with rice cooked along with milk, ghee and sugar. The sweet dish is topped with dried fruits, shredded coconut and saffron.
9. Hyderabadi Biryani
Hyderabadi Biryani is one popular South Indian dish known for its varied flavours and its incredible taste. The dish is a blend of the Mughlai and Iranian flavours. It is made when rice is cooked along with meat and an array of spices. It is cooked in a handi with marinated meat and soaked rice.
10. Curd Rice
Curd Rice is a comparatively milder dish when it comes to flavours and spices. The simple dish is just a combination of steamed rice and flavoured yoghurt or curd. Tasting tangy salty, the dish is a staple of Andhra Pradesh. Sometimes to make the dish more flavourful, they also add cumin seeds, curry leaves, peanuts, green chilies and ginger etc.
Rasam is mostly a started dish that is also considered to be a soup sometimes. The tangy soupy rasam is a favourite side dish in Tamil Nadu and is served with almost every meal. The dish is a fusion of tomatoes, peppercorns, curry leaves, chilli, garlic and ginger etc. that is cooked in water and blended. It is also considered an ideal cure for sore throat.
12. Appam and Ishtu
Appam is a feathery light crepe like dish that is made with a batter of fermented rice flour and coconut milk. Considered to be a delicacy in South India, Appam is best served with Ishtu (better known as stew). Among the stew- you can choose between chicken, mutton, beef or vegetable stew. Ishtu is also made in coconut gravy infused with mild spices.
13. Puttu and Kadala Curry
Puttu is another delicacy of Kerala that is served with Kadala curry (black peas/ kaala chana curry). Puttu is steamed rice filled in metal cylinders to give it a shape. Kadala curry is tangy and hot curry that is made with black peas, curry leaves and coconut milk. The dish is topped with grated coconut and is served with ripe bananas on the side.
It is considered ideal if you are in South India so that you can taste the authentic flavours. If not, these can be easily available in regional food outlets in all major towns of the country. So what are you waiting for? Hit the nearest restaurants and try out these amazing dishes right now. Tell us in the comments below!