South Indian cuisine has been forever presented as Idli and Dosa. However, that mindset has changed across the country as a wide range of variety has evolved over time. With plenty of restaurants showcasing the variety of South Indian cuisines specific to regions, options are aplenty. Anyone who has travelled down South would definitely know that the ingredients and flavours of South India changes at almost every 100 to 120 km.
Every state has its own culture and cuisine. South India presents a medley of different regional cuisines and locally available items, which influences their food habits. Here’s our pick of some of the regional South Indian cuisines you must try.
#1: Kodava Cuisine
Coorg, also known as Kodagu, is located in Karnataka. It is a landlocked region of the South, having a preserved identity. Kodava cuisine belongs to Coorg, a local and regional habitat. It is built on locally available ingredients from pork and cooked in Coorg style. Pandi curry, or pork curry, is an exemplary dish. The cuisine also highlights the use of jackfruit and bamboo shoots. Kachampuli extracted from ripe Kodambuli fruits is the souring agent commonly added to their cuisine for unique flavour. Rice remains the mainstay of this cuisine, be it puttu, or steamed rice cakes, or payasam, the traditional kheer.
#2: Chettinad Cuisine
Chettinad cuisine is the most evolved traditional cuisines of India. 70 villages dotting the arid belt between the villages of Ramanathapuram and Pudukottai located in Tamil Nadu make up the popular Chettinad region. The Nattukottai Chettiars are India’s original mercantile communities who introduced exotic spices like star aniseed. This cuisine uses black peppercorn, called karu maliagu extensively, which sets it apart from most South Indian staples. Traditional South Indian rasam has also been interpreted in the Chettinad style by adding coconut and pineapple. Their mainstay is mutton and so is their range of kuzhambus and snacks.
#3: Mappila Cuisine
Kerala is a land of tradition and culture. Kozhikode is one of the most important cities where you can find a wide range of foods, specially the original Mappila cuisine. A brilliant mix of Malayali and Arab cuisines, this cuisine is definitely worth trying. From aromatic biryani made with khaima rice to the regional Kozhi Porichathu – which is a juicy chicken dish marinated and mixed in spices and deep fried – the taste of Arab and Kozhikode is exquisite. Muttu Mala (egg garland) is a popular noodle-like sweet dish made from egg yolks without any fat. The accompaniments of this region include flaky parottas and light pathiris made from rice flour.
#4: Rayalaseema Cuisine
The most popular cuisine of Andhra Pradesh, the Rayalaseema cuisine lives up to the culinary credentials of the region. Sharing its borders with Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, the influence of both the states is felt in the cuisine of Andhra Pradesh. Ragi Sangatti (Ragi balls) and Guntu Ponganalu (dumplings) are staples in this region. Millets remain an integral part of the cuisine and so does mutton dishes such as Gongura Mamsam and mutton keema balls.
#5: Mangalorean Cuisine
Located in the southern coastal region of Karnataka, Mangalore offers a medley of cuisines. This regions food habits are shaped by the Bramhins, Bunts, and the Christian community of Mangalore. You can find the most outstanding range of seafood in their meals cooked in generous amounts of coconut and Bydagi chilli. You must try Kundapura Ghee Roast and Kori Roti – wafers made with rice flour that is eaten with chicken gravy. Udupi style cuisine is popular as snacks such as the ubiquitous masala dosa and rawa dosa, mildly sweet banana buns, and coffee.