South Indian cuisine is considered to be one of the healthiest regional cuisines in the country. Not only is it light on the belly but it also offers a huge variety of dishes that are scrumptious and flavourful.
We often end up generalising South Indian cuisine as just idlis and dosas. However, South Indian cuisine has got more to offer than just that. Break the stereotypes and discover the real pulse of the southern region by indulging in these delectable dishes that are absolutely worth trying.
A huge part of what makes South India such a great destination to travel is its rich and varied cuisine. While South Indians are not afraid to experiment with their food, it is their old traditions and recipes that make South Indian cuisine such a unique experience.
From the vegetarian varieties of Udipi and the festive fare of Tamil Nadu to the beef and seafood delicacies of Kerala and Konkan Karnataka, there’s something for every kind of food addict in South India.
If you’re heading down south, here are some of the best and most popular traditional dishes that you cannot miss.
Kuzhi paniyaram is one of the few dishes that is prepared across South India, and is also one of the simplest dishes of South Indian cuisine. Made from regular idli/dosa batter with added sweet or spice, kuzhi paniyaram is called paddu in Kannada and gunta ponganalu in Telugu.
In Tamil, the name kuzhi is a reference to the unique hollow mold in which it is prepared. Whether consumed as a spicy starter or a sweet dish, the paniyaram is a must-try dish.
Bisi bele bhaat
When it comes to flavour, bisi bele shaat is as unique as it gets. Its preparation is quite similar to khichdi, in which rice and dal are cooked together with various vegetables. However, the real magic of bisi bele bhaat is in its masala and the generous helpings of ghee. If you are in Karnataka, don’t miss bisi bele bhaat.
This easily-prepared Kerala dish is a staple in several parts of South India, and even some parts of Sri Lanka. Prepared with ground rice and coconut mixed with spices unique to each region, a large part of what makes puttu unique is not just its taste or ingredients but its presentation.
Serving a puttu (usually just a loosely packed tower made of ground rice and coconut) on a plate without breaking it is something that is nearly impossible, but is an everyday feat for Keralites.
Fish molee cooked in Kerala style is a scrumptious dish that goes well with appam, chapatis and bread. Fish pieces are marinated in a chilly mixture and deep fried.
This one's for all the dessert lovers out there! After a wholesome South Indian meal, kesari bhath is an absolute must. This melt-in-your-mouth dessert will surely be a treat for your palate. It has a lovely aroma of saffron which complements the use of desi ghee, semolina and sugar. It is then garnished with grated pistachios and almonds that add some crunch to this dessert.
One of the most spiciest and aromatic dishes from Tamil Nadu, chicken chettinad won't take long to jolt you out of your comfort zone. Brace yourself as this authentic dish from the South could possibly sear off a quarter of your taste buds.
This toothsome and tempting biryani is a whole gamut of flavours. The juicy meat and the intensity of spices and how it seeps through the rice truly make for a robust treat. Kozhikodan biryani is one of the most popular recipes hailing from Calicut. The biryani is also topped with boiled eggs.
This tiny, crispy, fried snack is a sensation in Karnataka. Much like pakoras, punugulu are also super crunchy. They are made with a maida batter; the chopped chillies give it just the right amount of hotness. Pair with sambhar, rasam or chutney.
Try more South Indian food other than idli and dosa. If you have tried any of them, tell us in the comment section below.