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Anupriya Bedi Jun 11 2014

The Real Taste of Southern India

Debangana Sen Jun 11 2014
1 person found this answer useful Useful ?Yes

South Indian food is not just limited to dosa, idli, sambar and curd rice, as is often misconceived by north Indians. In fact, it is one of the most diverse cuisines in the world.

Owing to the varied local influences, the four southern states also sport a remarkable intra-state diversity, where different regions are characterized by their own special cuisines. We have devised a quick food guide that’ll help you explore the real taste of south India.


Known for its spicy and tangy dishes, Hyderabadi biryani and hot varieties of pickles, Andhra Cuisine (Telugu cuisine) has 3 major subsets pertaining to regions of Telangana (north), coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema (south).

What should be on your platter

Chakinalu: A deep-fried savoury snack made with rice flour, sesame and carrom seeds.

: The Telangana version of momos. These can be sweet or savoury.

Mamsam Vepudu
: A very spicy dish that literally translates to mutton fry. It is very popular in Telangana. Dakshin is the best place to explore the rich diversity of Andhra cuisine.

Nellore Reddy Meal: Hugely popular across the south, this hot and spicy meal from coastal Andhra contains pulusu (a spicy stew that can be made with a variety of vegetables) and kodi kuda (Andhra-style chicken curry).

Gongura Pappu: Lentils cooked with red sorrel leaves. Gongura mamsam is a popular meat dish cooked in a sorrel-based gravy.

Pootharekulu: A wafer-like sweet dish made with rice batter and powdered sugar.

Poornam Boorelu: Another traditional sweet from Andhra made with black gram, coconut, jaggery and butter.

A majority of restaurants in Andhra Pradesh serve these ethnic savories along with good service and the genuine hospitality that the state is well known for.


This is one of the oldest surviving cuisines dating back to the 1500 ACE. The cuisine is an interesting mix of indigenous recipes as well as the Kannada version of borrowed recipes taken from the three neighbouring states.

What should be on your platter

Kannadiga Oota: A typical Kannadiga meal consists of the following staples and condiments served on a banana leaf. Named in order--salt, kosambari (a salad made with pulses and seasoned with mustard seeds), pickle, palya (a sauteed mixed vegetable dish), gojju (sweet and sour vegetable taken as a palate cleanser), raita, dessert, thove (dal), chitranna (south-Indian fried rice) and plain rice topped with ghee.

Madakki: This is a Kannadiga version of bhelpuri and loved throughout Karnataka.

Puliyogare (tamarind rice) and Bisi Bele Bath (a sour rice dish cooked with vegetables and spices): These are the two most popular rice-based south Indian food.

Neer Dose: An authentic Kannadiga dish, it is a crepe made with rice batter and served with sambar and chutney. Very similar to dosa.

Fish/Mutton/Chicken Saaru: A popular local curry made with specific spices, it is usually served with ragi balls, rice or bhakri (pancakes made with millet flour)

Kesari Bath: A famous sweet dish made with semolina or fried rice, saffron, milk and dry fruits. Indra Cafe is famous for kesari bath and Mysore cuisine. This sweet dish gives stiff competition to another Kannadiga speciality--Mysore pak.

Karadantu: Unique to Karnataka, this is a chewy sweet dish made with edible gum and dry fruits. It is especially popular in Belgaum District.


Linked to the richness of the history, geography and culture of the land, the cuisine of Kerala consists of a delectable array of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes.

What should be on your platter

Malabar Biryani: Also known as the Thalassery or Kerala biriyani, it is one of the best known dishes from the coast of Kerala. Made with khaima rice tossed with chicken/mutton, eggs and seafood, it is prepared differently from its traditional counterpart, which lends it its unique taste and aroma.

Idiyappam: These are string hoppers that are served with sambar and chutney. It is a popular breakfast food.

Sadya Meal: The sadya meal is a famous vegetarian main course meal in Kerala with a set number of dishes. Some of them are: parippu (dal), avial (a thick vegetable mix with curd and coconut), kaalan (a sour dish made with plantain/yam in a coconut-curd gravy), thoran (a dry dish made with finely chopped vegetables), injipuli (a sweet-spicy palate cleanser made with ginger, green chilly and jaggery) and olan (white gourd cooked in coconut milk).

Ilayappam: Banana leaf pockets stuffed with a rice, jaggery and coconut mixture. A popular tea-time snack

Nadan Kozhi Curry: A traditional Kerala chicken curry. Kozhi porichathu (Kerala chicken fry) is another local favourite.

Meen Pollichathu: This very popular fish dish is prepared by smearing the fish (particularly karimeen) with a spice mixture, wrapping it in a banana leaf and then shallow frying it. This is a must try for fish-lovers. Head over to the Kerala House Family Restaurant to enjoy this dish.

Payasam: A milk-based dessert, similar to kheer, payasam can have a variety of base constituents like rice, tapioca and vermicelli.

Pazham Pori: A sweet dish made of deep-fried plantain slices.


Characterized by a distinct aroma and taste, the cuisine of Tamil Nadu uses a lot of lentils, legumes and/or rice in its staple dishes, seasoned with locally-sourced spice mixtures.

What should be on your platter

Chettinad Chicken: This is the most famous dish of the Chettinad region. The chicken is cooked in a thick spicy red gravy. Known for its aroma and fieriness this is one of the best south Indian foods out there. Anjappar Chettinad is a good place to try out this dish and other Chettinad delicacies.

Meen Pattichathu: A Tamil fish curry, found across the state. However, Nanjil Nadu in Kanyakumari District is especially famous for this dish.

Kari Dosa:
Dosa stuffed with mutton is very popular in the southern districts.

Puliyodarai: This is the Tamil version of tamarind rice. It is usually quite spicy and tangy with a hint of sweet.

Aviyal: A vegetable stew with grated coconut. Kootu is also similar, but is thicker and has lentils in addition. Both are eaten as side dishes.

Kottu Parota: A popular street food that originated in Sri Lanka. It is a dry dish made with broken pieces of flat bread mixed with vegetables and spices. Eggs and meat are optional. If you haven't stopped by a road side stall and savoured the dish, you are missing out a major alllure of Tamil Nadu tour.

Kozhakattai: These are rice flour dumplings. These can be sweet or savoury.

Oputtu: A sweet pizza like dish, crusted on the outside and sweet stuffing on the inside.

Thirunelveli Halwa / Godhumai Halwa: A famous sweet dish associated with the city of Thirunelveli, this halwa is a dark porridge-like dish made from ground wheat, sugar and oodles of ghee.

You will find these ethnic savouries in the menu of most of the eateries in Tamil Nadu, many of which are within the budget of a common man.

South Indian food and cuisines boast of truly delectable dishes that are worth trying out. This is a very small sampling of the absolutely delicious dishes that one can savour in the cuisines of India’s southern states. Deccan cuisine is so much more than simply dosa, uttapam, idli and sambar. So here’s to exploring the real taste of southern India.

Let us know if we have missed out on any important dish. And as always please like, share and comment below.

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