Famous Foods & Cusines of South India

South Indian cuisines or the food that they eat is mainly contributed by the following states of Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. This area is majorly hot and humid as it is coastal area, but this also makes fresh vegetables and sea food available easily. One of the spiciest cuisines is the Chettinad cuisine of this area. While Malabari style of cooking is all about fish dishes, while Nizam style is full of dry fruits and saffron making it rich and exquisite.

Different Gravies & Curries

The staple food of this region is based around rice majorly. They like to have hot dishes with boiled rice mostly on daily basis. Food is served on banana leaves.

  • Sambar: it is the most popular dish which is like a stew of vegetables cooked with lentils and tamarind and then finally seasoned with dry red chillies.
  • Rasam: it is majorly a sour based dish prepared in tamarind based puree, along with use tomatoes, vegetables and lentils. It is seasoned with a few spices.
  • Kuzhambu: this gravy based dish has a thicker puree made of toor dal, tamrind, urad dal and spices, vegetables are used in limited quantity only.
  • Thayer or curd is also had along with rice in different forms. It is consumed as it is plain or made in different forms of raita, it is diluted and seasoned with spices and boondi is added. But majorly this is sweet along with spicy dishes.

Side Dishes

These are mainly the dry vegetables or semi dry dishes.

  • Kootu: a semi solid dish prepared by using vegetables and lentils together.
  • Poriyal: it is a fried or sautéed form of dish which again has a variety of vegetables used.
  • Pappadam: these are circular and crispy deep fried wafers kind of things. But these are made from lentils or sago.
  • Oorkai: pickles made from vegetables are served along with food each time.

Tiffin Dishes

A few dishes which serve as a light meal in itself they are either eaten for breakfast or as a small in between Tiffin.

  • Dosa: it is like a pan cake made from batter of fermented rice and lentils. It is generally had with sambar and chutney. These can be had plain or with different forms of stuffing such as potatoes, onions, tomatoes or mix vegetables etc.
  • Idli: these are small flat circular cakes make by steaming fermented rice and white lentil. This is also served with sambar or chutney.
  • Upma: this is a semi solid form of porridge made from semolina or coarsely grinded rice. Use of a few finely chopped vegetables is done and then tempered with spices and lentil.
  • Parotta: flat bread made on the Tawa with ghee. The flour is made from wheat. It is generally served with dry vegetables and thick gravy non-vegetarian dish.
  • Poori: deep fried form of bread in small circular shapes. Made from same flour as the parotta but it is crispy and served hot along with curries.


These are majorly fried items which can give you more energy in a bite sized meal.

  • Vada: fried doughnuts made from fermented lentil batter, served with sambar or lentil. Dal vada is another variant made from many lentils only after the batter has fermented.
  • Bhaji: these are deep fried snack made by dipping vegetables in a thick batter of besan. These can be made from almost any vegetable available in the market. Served with chutney.
  • Bonda: it is a deep fried dish made using boiled potatoes along with loads of spices. But there are other variants using different vegetables. Generally served with chutney.


These are eaten with almost all the dishes. These are spicy pastes cooked or uncooked majorly made by the use of coconut. Sometimes they are seasoned with spices. Used in very small amount but they are an essential part of the thali. Sweet chutney of mangoes is also made in the summer time.

Dairy Products

There is ample use of ghee in the preparation of food. Curd is also served in various forms and butter milk is served. The butter milk in this region is tempered with seasoning and it is spicy. Though cottage cheese is not very famous in this part of the country, but the food as a lot of richness.

Famous Non- Vegetarian Dishes Are

  • Malabari Fish: fish is cooked in special spices along with coconut, ginger and tamrind. Red chilies are used in a good amount so the dish gets red colored gravy.
  • Pork mappas: pork is cooked in coconut milk along with brown sugar, malt vinegar and tamarind paste. All these make the meat tender.
  • Meen thoran: it is a dry fish dish with coconut and green tamarind. Use of green chilies and curry leaves is done.
  • Duck curry: duck is cooked with a handsome amount of spices in thin coconut milk.
  • Pork Vindallu: pork is cooked in mix of spices and vinegar.
  • Shrimp coconut curry: shrimps are cooked in coconut milk, this dish is sometimes cooked inside green empty coconut.
  • Fish fry: fish is simply fried to become crispy.

Signature Nizam Style Dishes

    These dishes are generally rich not just in terms of spices but also extensive use of ghee. Dry fruits and saffron is also used in ample as they were made for the Nizams of Hyderabad. These dishes are served in large metallic plates made of brass.

    • Hyderabadi biryani: this is a dish loved by one and all. Basmati rice is cooked with special spices and meat. These are cooked in earthen pots and these days also served in then. When the pot is opened just before eating the aroma of the hot rice will fill the air and make you even hungrier. It is served with gravy or curd.
    • Achari subzi: this gravy preparation has pickles along with vegetables. It is a tangy and spicy dish.
    • Dum ka murgh: Hyderabadi style chicken preparation done in earthen pot. The flavors are rich and spices are left for some time to be properly absorbed and give it a smoky flavor.
    • Mirchi ka salan: this is a chilies and peanuts mixture cooked and seasoned. Often served along biryani.
    • Baghara Baingan: fried egg plans are cooked in coconut, tamarind and spice gravy. This is a thick gravy dish.

    Sweet dishes

    these dishes are served in the end but they are the most delicious ones and food is incomplete without them.

    • Kheer: it is a sweet porridge like dish made with rice and milk and dry fruits.
    • Kesari:semolina is fried and cooked with ghee and water along with saffron. It is sweet and is decorated with loads of dry fruit.

    Now that you know all about the dishes of south India you must try them out. But please be cautious that they are generally very hot in taste. Do order something sweet with the food in case you cannot handle the heat of the chilies. These dishes are served in restaurants all around the world but they taste the best in their native states. So do find time and visit South India to get a feel and taste of the Authentic South Indian Cuisine.