South Indian food is mainly known for its flow, smell and the irresistible taste that can be found all across the world. Be it the perfect combination of crispiness and nutty aroma in dosa or the Hyderabad briyani served directly from the clay pot – any dish you try here is a joy to eat. Dishes from South are not only delicious to eat, but also nourishing and digestible. Rice is the staple food of South India, where lentils, coconuts and spices are often used in abundant to bring out the brilliant blend of flavour, seasoning, nutrition, taste and appearance in the prepared dish. Here are 20 best South Indian Delicacies you must try to pamper your taste bud!
Vada is fried dish mostly consumed during breakfast. The dish is made using paste of legumes like (arhar) piegon pea, (chana) chickpea, vigna mungo (urad) mung, etc. Medu vada, masala vada, and keera vada are some of the different types of vada that are served with coconut chutneys and Sambar.
The term ‘medu vada’ means ‘soft’ in Kannada. These vada are usually soft inside and crispy outside, made in the shape of a doughnut using black lentils batter.
Black lentils are soaked in water for several hours before frying so that it gets fermented. These vadas can be flavoured by adding black pepper, methi seeds, curry leaves, green chilli, etc and then the batter is given a doughnut shape and deep fried in oil. Medu vada are served hot with sambar and coconut chutney.
Masala vadas are also called as “aamai vada” in Tamil. These masala vada are prepared using whole lentils (toor dal)
Masala vadas are made with a batter of soaked toor dal (whole lentils) added with different vegetables like onions, chilli, coriander, mint leaves, spring onions, etc. They are shaped roughly like a flying saucer and then deep fried. It is served with coconut chutney or green mint chutney.
Keerai vadai are similar to masala vadai and are very famous in small tea stalls. These keerai vadai are very healthy and nutritious as it has a lot of spinach in it.
A mixture is made by grinding finely soaked chickpeas (chana dal) and whole lentils (toor dal). Chopped spinach leaves are added to the mixture and for more flavours onions, green chilli, grated ginger, etc can be added. After mixing the ingredients with a considerable quantity of water, salt and turmeric powder, they are also shaped roughly like a flying saucer and then deep fried in oil. It is served with dry chilly chutney.
2. MASALA DOSA
Masala dosa is the most popular South Indian dish loved by people across world. It is found all over India and in few overseas countries. The dish is listed as number 49 on “World’s 50 Most Delicious food compiled by CNN Go in 2011”.
Dosa batter is made by soaking rice, urud dal and lentils overnight and then grinding the same to form a batter. The fermented batter is spread in a pan with a thin round layer, and oil/butter is added to make it crispy. Once the dosa is ready the stuffing inside is filled in the centre. The stuffing is made with boiled potatoes with a seasoning of mustard seeds and green chilli. Further for garnished one can use coriander leaves and lemon juice. This masala dosa is served hot with sambar and different types of chutney.
3. APPAM WITH TANGA PAL/KURMA
Appam is a famous dish of Kerala which is a type of pan cake made up of a fermented rice batter. It is preferred during breakfast and dinner, which can be served with tanga pal (coconut milk) or with kurma. Coconut is the main ingredient of this dish.
Soaked rice overnight and grind it to smooth batter. Appam batter is poured in a large bowl or pan by adding rock salt and sugar and spread oil around. Leave it until cooked and to prepare coconut milk you need to grate coconut and extract the liquid. Serve hot with coconut milk or kurma made with vegetables.
Puttu aka “steamed rice cake” is another common dish of South India mainly popular in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and some parts of Karnataka. It’s a breakfast dish having cylinder shape cooked using rice flour and coconut.
Take rice flour in a large bowl; add water and salt to make smooth paste. Add 2 cups of water to the bottom vessel of Puttu maker and allow it to simmer till hot. Place the round perforated disc with holes inside the Puttu maker such that it fits well at the bottom of the mould. Place 1 layer of grated coconut at the bottom of the puttu maker (using puttu making vessel) then slowly add about 6 tbsps of the puttu powder. Place the lid over the puttu mould and place the mould over the bottom vessel. Allow it to cook for about 5 minutes and serve hot with chickpea curry or fruits like plantain, jackfruit, mango or banana. It tastes great with sweet black coffee.
Pesarattu is also known as moong dal dosa. It is one of healthy and nutritious option for breakfast and dinner made with whole moong beans or split lentils (green gram). The dish is most popularly found in Andhra Pradesh.
Pesarattu is prepared by soaking the moong beans overnight. Grind the moong beans along with green chilli, ginger, asafoetida, coriander leaves, and salt by adding required amount of water. Finally rice flour is added into the batter. A round dosa is prepared with the batter with onions, green chillies and coriander leaves as its toppings. Pesarattu is served hot with upma or coconut chutney.
Rasam is not only popular for the delicious taste, but also health benefit it has to offer. The major benefits come from the ingredients used in Rasam such as tomato, tamarind, and black pepper, which are good for digestive system and overall health. It can be taken as a soup or as a side dish with rice. Hot Rasam is medically prescribed for sore throat and cold. Nowadays, all the seasonings required are combined and ground beforehand into Rasam powder, which is available in almost all the supermarkets.
Heat a pot with oil, add mustard, cumin and fenugreek seeds and stir until cooked. Add finely chopped tomatoes, turmeric, salt and fry for few minutes until tomatoes become soft. Pour water, tamarind pulp and black pepper and bring it to boil. Serve hot with rice or as soup.
Bisibelebhath is traditional Karnataka dish served in almost all kannadiga’s home. It is a rice-based dish cooked together with toor dal and vegetables. Bisi-bele-bhaath translates to “hot lentil rice” in Kannada. This dish is served hot and taken along with chatni, boondi, salad, papad or potato chips. You will commonly find this dish in restaurants serving Udipi cuisine.
Initially rice and toor dal (lentil) is pressure cooked, while bisibelbhath powder is made separately. Potatoes, carrots, beans, tomatoes, brinjal, garlic cloves, and green chillies are fried separately in a pan adding required spices and tamarind pulp. Bisibelebath powder (readily available in market) and fried vegetables are mixed to the cooked rice and dal. Stir until the all ingredients mix well and become smooth. Make the final touch of seasoning to the dish and it is ready to serve.
Pulihora, Puliyodarai, Puliyogare or simply Tamarind Rice is the most loved dish in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Pulihora is usually cooked on special occasions and festive days. It is also given as prasadam in some temples and quite easy on preparation.
This very delicious south Indian vegetarian food is made from rice, puliyogare powder, and tamarind paste. Tamarind extract is fried in a pan with mustard seeds, oil, red chilli, etc. As the boiled rice comes to room temperature, it is mixed to tamarind paste. It is ready to serve with side dishes. The tanginess of the tamarind, crunchiness of the groundnuts, crispiness of the dry coconut chops and the flavour and aroma of the puliyogare powder makes puliyogare an absolute delight to eat.
9. PAZHAM PORI
Pazhampori or Ripe Banana Fritters is an all-time favourite snack around Kerala. Also known as Ethakka Appam is deep fried banana dish served in every restaurant, roadside snack stall, train, hostel canteen and college cafe around Kerala.
You need all purpose flour (maida), rice flour, turmeric, cumin, sugar, salt, and water to prepare the batter. Cut ripe banana into slices and dip them in the ready batter. Pre-heat oil in a pan and deep fry each banana slices one by one. Cook until you see crispy outer coating Pazhampori. Serve hot with milk/coffee.
Paniyaram otherwise known as Paddu, Appe, Guliappa, or Guilttu is a all-time favourite dish in South India. Made by steaming a fermented batter, get’s its awesome taste from added spices and vegetables. A special pan with multiple fissures is used to prepare Paniyaram.
Soak black lentils and rice overnight and grind it to form a smooth batter. Add onions, tomato, capsicum, green chillies and coriander to it. Pre-heat the Paniyaram pan for 2 minutes, pour the batter one by one into each fissures and let it cook for few minutes on low flame. Pour little oil into each fissure and turn it for cooking on other side. Take out once cooked and serve hot with coconut chutney and sambar.
11. VATHA KUZHAMBU:
Vatha kuzhambu is a famous dish originated from Tamil Nadu. It is served along with main course as the side dish for rice. Tamarind and vegetables being the main ingredients, the dish is high in nutritional values. There are other varieties of Kozhambu like karaKara kuzhambu, mor kuzhambu, poondu kozhumbu, etc.
Heat a pan with some oil and mustard seeds, once the seeds start cracking add red chilli powder, toor dal, curry leaves and tamarind juice. After the ingredients are mixed well, add chopped tomato, onion and turkey berry and required spices. Stir well and heat for about 20 minutes, serve hot with rice accompanied with papad or potato chips.
12. PESARAPAPPU PAYASAM:
Pesarapappu Payasam or Kheer is a traditional sweet dish originated from Andhra Pradesh, but consumed throughout India. It is served with main course as sweet dish and loved by all.
Heat a pan with some ghee, add dry fruits and let them roast until golden brown. Get some moong dal boiled using milk. Take another pan and roast the boiled moong dal by adding jaggery syrup. Add cardamom powder and roasted dry fruits and let it cook for until boil. It is served hot garnished with some dry fruits and saffron.
Uttappam is a very special dish of Tamil Nadu, which is found all over India. It is the ticker version of dosa topped with onions, green chillies, capsicum and tomatoes. Ready batter and instant mixes are also available in market.
Prepare dosa batter using lentils and rice (soaked overnight and grinding). Chop all vegetables and add it to the prepared batter. Add one tablespoon of oil in the batter before spreading it on the pan. Take pan/tawa and pour a thick layer of batter in round shape. Cook both the side and serve hot with samber, red and coconut chutney.
14. RAVA IDLY:
Rava idly is mostly prepared for breakfast using semolina as main ingredient. It is one of the best variant of idly found all over South India.
Heat 2 tsp ghee/oil in a pan, add rava/sooji and roast it until aromatic. Keep this aside, and pour another tsp oil in the same pan to fry some cashew nuts. Add fried cashew nuts to the roasted rava. Now in the same pan, add one tsp oil and sprinkle some mustard seeds, once start cracking, then add curry leaves, few chana dal and asafoetida, fry all things for few minutes. Add this mix to the prepared rava, to form a smooth paste add yogurt with green chillies, salt and ginger for flavour. Keep it aside for half n hour and prepare idly in the steamer by greasing idly mould beforehand. Cook for 10 minutes and serve hot with coconut chutney and sambar.
15. ONION RAVA DOSA:
Onion Rava Dosa or Ravattu is a quick to make and delicious recipe of Tamil Nadu. Again like rava idly, Semolina is the main ingredient.
It is made with a batter of semolina, rice flour and water which is flavoured with cardamom seeds, salt, asafoetida, diced onion, carrot, curry leaves, black pepper, etc. All ingredients are mixed and poured into a heated tava/pan. Further ghee is sprinkled and cooked for two minutes until it turns light brown in colour. It is served with coconut chutney.
Adirasam is the main traditional festival sweet of Tamil Nadu. It is prepared with rice flour and jiggery (sugar if preferred). It is an easy but delicate dish to prepare.
The raw rice is soaked in water over night and grind along cardamom, the jaggery is boiled in water to make syrup. The jaggery syrup is added to the ground rice flour and made as dough and left undisturbed for around 24 hours. The dough is flatted and deep fried in oil.
17. VANGI BATH:
Vangi is a special Karnataka cuisine also famously known as tawa pulao in Mumbai. It barely takes 10- 15 minutes to prepare.
Pre-cook rice and keep it aside. Make Vangi Bath masala by roasting coriander seeds, cloves, cinnamon, fenugreek and cumin. Dry grind the ingredients and heat a pan with oil. Add the grinded masala and mix cooked rice to it. Mix well and add lemon juice in the end to get that mouth-watering tangy flavour.
Biriyani is the most famous and loved dish among the Indians. There are different styles and variations of biriyani famous in each part of India. It can be made with meat as well as vegetables.
Soak rice for 20-30 minutes. Then the main core spices are saluted in oil, followed by onions, Chillies and ginger garlic paste, fried till the change of colour. Add vegetables like carrot, beans, potato etc and bring it to boil. Add biriyani masala, once the vegetables are half boiled followed by the rice and leave it until cooked.
Gongkura is one of the main traditional dishes of Andhra cuisine popularly known as gongkura pacchadi/chutney.
In a hot pan gongkura leaves, mustard seeds, red chillies, garlic, cumin seeds, curry leaves are shallow fried in oil, bring it to room temperature and grind it to make chutney. Served with rice, dosa, idly ect.etc.
20. MYSORE BONDA:
Mysore bonda is originated from Mysore and the typical snack of Karnataka.
The Urad Dal is soaked overnight for about 5-6 hours then grinded smooth with crushed black pepper, chopped ginger, green chilli, chopped coconut, curry leaves and with a pinch of hing and deep fried in oil/ ghee. It tastes best with chutney or ketchup.
When it comes to South India, there are numerous dishes that can be added to the list. This was the list of 20 best South Indian Vegetarian dishes and a must-try if you are around South part of India.