North Indians! Not All “South Indian Food” Is Just Idli & Dosa

what is south indian food

It’s a little offensive when you term everything South of Maharashtra and Indore as ‘South India,’ just as it is offensive when you term everything West of West Bengal as the North East. Then what is South Indian food? This entire region is made up of five states and two union territories—each of which has its own identity, flavour profiles, distinct ingredients and cooking styles, and so much more! 

Idli & Dosa Aren’t The Only Ways Rice Is Eaten

what is south indian food

No siree, we use rice in a variety of dishes. You may go to a coffee shop and get just the stereotypical breakfast/tiffin time dishes, but one must try all the variations of savoury rice dishes including tamarind rice, tomato rice and lemon rice, bisi bele bhat, and biryani, but it’s not limited to it. Walk into a Kerala restaurant and you will find ‘puttu,’ a dish made layered with rice and grated coconut, steamed and set in tubes. It goes well with any fiery fish curry or gravy dish. Also, appam (also made of rice) is the perfect thing to have with stew. Idiyappam or string hoppers are also a breakfast delicacy that one must try. Moreover, there are a variety of sweet dishes also that incorporate rice in one form or the other in it.

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We Make Non-Vegetarian Food Too


Every state has their own speciality. Andhra Pradesh’s mutton sukka, Kerala’s stew or beef roast fish curry, Hyderabad’s magaz masala (brain curry), Tamil Nadu’s chicken Chettinad, and paya from Telangana barely even scratch the surface when it comes to all that they have to offer. One could comfortably spend their entire lives just researching and exploring all the food in this part of the country.

Even Our Vegetarian Meals Are Tasty

what is south indian food


Oh yes, they are! I kid you not, but a ‘no-onion-no-garlic’ meal tastes so good, you won’t miss having onion or garlic in your food. Plus, we could make a gravy or a dry dish out of almost any vegetable that is available. This part of the country still has a lot of villages that cook using firewood and they sure know how to fully optimise all their resources. Avial, thoran, rasam, upma, medu vada, vegetable korma, pesarattu, thokku, mor kozhumbu, kootu…the list goes on and on. One of the best times to try an array of dishes is during Onam when an elaborate 24-course sadya is prepared.

Pickle, Pachadi & Chutney


Photo Courtesy Of: Kunal Chandra

Of course, we have our own pickles and chutneys that we’re proud of. Manga thokku, avakaya (tender mango pickle), manga inji (mango ginger), prawn pickle, mahali curd pickle, erachi pickle (Kerala beef pickle) are just some of the most relished varieties. There is probably a whole treasure trove of sweet and savoury chutneys that are yet to be discovered, apart from the coconut chutney. Now, pachadi is a kind of side dish and can often be as liquidy as a raita. Beetroot pachadi, peanut pachadi, and mango pachadi are regular features at dinner tables.

So What I’m Saying Is

what is south indian food

You’ve got to stop terming everything and everyone as South Indian just because the dishes you eat or the people you meet are from the South of Maharashtra. You’ve got to fully explore the food here that is so simple, yet so rich (which can be said about many other Indian dishes as well). Give it a chance before you club everyone in the ‘idli brigade’ (believe me, people are weird).

Photos Courtesy Of: Wikimedia Commons

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