When it comes to Indian food, there is a pre-conceived notion, as it is generally associated with curry-laden dishes or popular North Indian dishes like Butter Naan, Chicken Tikka Masala, Biryani and Chicken Kebabs. However, a bit of study would reveal that Indian cuisine has an overwhelming range of diversity and distinctiveness because it has been influenced by many cultures and civilizations over a period. Debunking the myth here, the cuisines of South India are equally popular among tourists as the North Indian cuisines are. The appetizing South Indian dishes are mostly rice based and come with low calories and easy to digest factors. Another main attraction of South Indian cuisine is that most of the dishes are a wonderful and a modest blend of lentils and rice, which are predominately used to prepare many delicious dishes like vadas, dosas, idlis and uttapams. Another interesting aspect is that most of the South Indian dishes are prepared by using a lesser amount of oil and spices, which make them light and easy-to-eat. To understand these amazing dishes, let’s first compare them with the Northern Indian cuisines.
Difference between South Indian and North Indian Food:
It is not possible to scrutinize the diversity of India’s cuisines by comparing South and North Indian foods, but we can at least do some basic comparison to get a fair idea about these delicious foods. North Indian food is dominated by curries and breads. The popular breads are: naan bread, rumali bread and rotis or common bread. In curries, we have palak paneer or a mixture of spinach and cheese; and then popular non-vegetarian dishes like Butter Chicken, Kadhai Chicken, and Chicken Kebabas. When it comes to spices, North Indian foods are prepared by using Garam Masala, which is a mixture of various spices like cardamom, Black and white peppercorns, Cloves, Cinnamon, Bay leaf and Cumin. Amchoor or dried mango powder is used as a souring agent in most of the North-Indian curries. As far as drink is concerned, people in North India love tea or chai – they usually complement their meals with a hot cup of tea.
South Indian food: South Indian foods are mostly based on the mixture of rice, lentils, and stews. Most of the popular dishes like dosa, idli, rasam and sambar are prepared by using rice crepe, lentils, tamarind and vegetable stew. When it comes to spices, South Indian dishes are prepeared by using Huli pudi or sambhar powder. Tamarind is used as a sour ingredient in preparing stews. Dried herbs and curry leaves are used in preparing soups. South Indian finish off their meals with a special coffee, made with chicory.
Now, let us look at common, yet hugely popular South-Indian dishes:
- Dosa: Primarily, dosa or masala dosa is a staple diet in South India. It is made from a batter of urad lentil and rice – to make it mildly spicy, a potato mixture is stuffed inside the large pancake. Dosas come in many forms: from plain dosa to paneer dosa. The pancake, which is a mixture of rice and dal remains the same, only the mixture is altered. Generally, Dosa is taken with sambar, which is a sour sauce made from vegetables, tamarind and tur dal. Other chutneys or sauces which are taken with dosa include coconut white chutney and tur dal red chutney. Other popular versions of dosa are: Mysore, onion, and rava.
- Vada: Prepared with a mixture of lentil and gram flour, it is a dense and fried donut. Occasionally, potato mash is used to provide that extra heft to a vada. This delicious snack is one of the most popular street foods in South India. You can eat it with sambar and other common chutneys or sauces.
- Idli: These delicious saucer-like cakes are prepared by using the batter of rice and black lentils. Fluffy, soft, and steamed, idlis are consumed with sambar and chutneys. The freshness and fragrance of steamed idlis attract everyone towards them.
- Banana Leaf Thali: Usually, a thali in India is considered as a buffet of delicacies. Well, this thali is different. Base is created with a large pile of rice, placed on a banana leaf and a chapatti roti and other ingredients are tin cups of curries, chutneys or sauces, papads and pickles.
- Curd Rice: Curd rice or yoghurt rice is prepared by cooking the rice with fried spices including coriander leaves, cumin, asafoetida and pain curd. This food is consumed a lot in South India to beat the intense heat.
Well, the South Indian cuisine would not be as creamy as North Indian food, but when it comes to taste – it is equally good.
Contact us for a tailor-made Culinary Tour of South India!