5 states, 2 union territories, and thousands of recipes. From soft idlis to muddhe to Ambur biryani, South Indian cuisines are deep-rooted in their culture. We are bringing to you 10 popular South Indian recipes. And by South Indian recipes, we just mean they are popular there and are not claiming the origin of it.
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Dishes made out of ragi is desired in Karnataka majorly and other states including Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. With the plethora of benefits ragi has, ragi rotti is a famous and common item in South Indian households. It is made with ragi, onions, cumin, chillies, and roasted peanuts.
Made of rava, which is granulated wheat, this is one of the most popular breakfast items. This recipe is made with roasted rava and a lot of vegetables like carrots, beans, potatoes, peas, etc. Because of how subtle and nutritious Upma is, it is also eaten for dinner. Variations include adding tomatoes and turmeric and using ragi or oats instead of rava.
Made with the pulp of tamarind, this rice has a lovely mild sour taste. The sourness of tamarind is reduced as rice and ghee are on the sweeter side of the scale. Tamarind rice is garnished with nuts like cashews and peanuts. In South India, tamarind rice is often given as a ‘prasad’ (offering) to the devotees. A lot of people believe that tamarind rice given in temples has a unique taste that can’t be recreated at home.
It is the most common dish that is generally eaten with rice, idli, and dosa. Made with local vegetables and lentils, The texture is more like a stew. There are a variety of vegetables you can add to it including, drumstick, brinjal/eggplant, carrot, pumpkin, bottle ground, etc.
Fun fact: All South Indian states make sambar spicy except for Karnataka. Kannadigas add a bit of jaggery to sambar that makes it a little sweet.
Appam looks like dosa but isn’t. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The major difference is appam has coconut milk in it and the pans used are different too. For appams, you swirl the pan for it to spread whereas for dosa you do it with a ladle. Appam is relished with chicken stew or vegetable stew (ishtu).
Made of urad dal and rice, a plate of hot hot steamed idlis are not just a breakfast option, but a lot of emotion. As mentioned earlier, they are eaten with sambar and a variety of chutneys. There are multiple variations like mini idlis that are plunged in a bowl of sambar and topped with a generous amount of ghee. There is also podi idly, masala idli that adds flavors to idlis. There are different shapes as well including plate idli (which is cut into cubes) and tumbler idli (made with drinking glasses).
Variety of Podi
Podi literally means powders. In the Southern part, there are numerous podis like curry leaves powder, lentils powder, chilli powder, and more. These are mixed with hot rice and adding ghee to it gives it a good texture and enhances the taste. You can also eat it with dosa and idli.
There is a general confusion between parathas/paranthe and parotta. Parotta is made of refined wheat and has a lot of layers. On the other hand, parathas are made of wheat/atta and are made in flatbread that puffs up when cooked. However, people who tend to avoid maida/refined wheat go for wheat parottas. They are found across all states on South India, however, it’s prevalent and loved in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In Tamil Nadu you find people eating parotta with salna (chicken-based curry with coconut), or chicken curry or mutton paya (stew). Keralites are fond of the parotta and beef combination.
This is an oil-fried item that is usually made at home during festival occasions. Generally, there are two types of vada – urad vada and masala vada. As the name suggests, urad vada is made of urad dal, onion, ginger and green chillies. Masala vada is made of Chana dal, onions, fennel seeds, and chillies.
On a funny note, this is just flavored overcooked rice. Made with ghee, peppercorns, cashews, green chillies, rice and moong dal this is a heavy breakfast that is eaten with sambar or gojju (tamarind-based curry).
There are a lot of intricate techniques that go into cooking that make a dish as different and delectable it is – be it South, North, or any part of the world. Apart from that, every household or every person who cooks gives their personal touch to the food that makes it as homemade as possible. For such homemade recipes check out our recipe page!