South Indian food includes the range of dishes and drinks popularly consumed in Southern region of India, particularly in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. South Indian cuisine is known for its spicy taste and wide use of locally available ingredients like coconut, rice, chilies, etc.
Regional Sub Divisions of South Indian Food:
South Indian Food can be classified on the basis of the state from which it comes, namely Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Here are the main features of the different categories-
Andhra Cuisine:Andhra food is the spiciest food in South Indian cuisine, on account of the use of chili powder and tamarind in a wide variety of dishes. The dishes are mostly vegetarian, and often contain rice and lentils.
Karnataka Cuisine:This is the least spicy among the various categories of South Indian cuisine. It mainly uses ingredients like palm sugar, chilies (though in lesser amount as compared to other states' food), coconut, etc. It can further be classified into categories like Udupi cuisine and Coorgi Cuisine. Most of the dishes are vegetarian.
Kerala Cuisine:Kerala food is known for its diversity, and abundance of non-vegetarian dishes as compared to South Indian food from neighboring states. The food here is further classified on the basis of religious communities staying here, namely Hindus, Musllims and Christians. Hindus are more often vegetarians, especially the Nairs and Namboodris, while Christians and Muslims are non-vegetarian.
Tamil Cuisine:This category of South Indian food consists of mostly vegetarian dishes, which range in level of spiciness, and are often eaten with rice. It is further classified according to the nature of the dishes, which may be main dishes mixed with rice, side dishes and relishes, snacks and their condiments, as well as sweet dishes. Rasam, Podiyal and Payasam are some examples.
Ingredients Commonly Used in South Indian Food
South Indian food includes a range of ingredients for vegetarian and non vegetarian dishes. The type of ingredients may vary from one region to another. The most commonly used ingredients in all South Indian regional cuisines include rice, which is considered a staple food here, lentils, which are often soaked and grounded for use in various dishes and coconut, which is used in various forms like coconut oil, grated or shredded coconut for cooking, garnishing, etc.
Spices used in South Indian food most commonly include red and green chilies. Red chilies are used in dried form while green chilies are used fresh. Tamarind is widely used to lend its tangy taste to food, and ginger and garlic are also used in most dishes. Fruits like plantains and vegetables like snake gourd are also important ingredients in South Indian food.
Popular Dishes from South Indian Cuisine
Here are some of the many popular dishes of South Indian Food-
- Appam: Thin pancakes made with rice flour that has been fermented.
- MysorePak: A sweet dish made of besan (chickpea flour), ghee (clarified butter) and sugar.
- Pesarattu: A pancake made of mung dal.
- Pulihora: Tamarind flavored rice
- Payasam: A sweet dish made of milk, rice and dried fruits.
South Indian Food Recipes Popular in Foreign Culture
Some of the many dishes from South Indian cuisine which have become a favorite in other parts of India and even in neighboring countries include the following dishes-
- Dosa: It is a papery thin pancake made of a fermented batter of rice and black lentils. It may contain poptato filling, and is eaten with sambhar and chutney for brunch or lunch/ dinner.
- Sambhar: It is a stew containing vegetables in a broth made of toor dal and flavored with tamarind
- Idli: It is a steamed cake made of a batter of fermented black lentils and rice.