There are numerous states in the country and each state has a different cuisine and a signature dish. This article is a compilation of top ten South Indian dishes that you would not regret trying out. If you are planning to spend a week in India, try authentic restaurants to enjoy the traditional taste of South India.
There is Mysore dosa, ghee roast, manchurian dosa and numerous other varieties that you can find in different states. Dosa is a crispy pancake made with salted batter of rice and lentils. Dosa is commonly served with vegetable lentil soup called sambar or coconut based side dish called chutney. There are various varieties of chutney and sambar.
Thali is a famous lunch option in South India. This is the best dish for those who want to try out numerous types of dishes. Thali is a combination of numerous dishes, side dishes, sweets, rice and buttermilk in one plate. The content of thali changes from time to time. There are 9 dishes thali, 11 dishes thali and even 13 dishes thali.
Vadai or vada is a spicy fried donut made with lentil batter and onion. It is usually served with chutney or sambar. Vadai is also eaten as a side dish with dosa or idli or, also as a snack. Sambar vadai is a variant of this dish. Vadai is soaked in sambar for a few minutes and is served in a small bowl. This is almost similar to the dhai vada of North India.
Idli is the staple breakfast item of south India. It uses the same batter as that of dosa. It is steamed rice cake served with sambar, chutney or ghee. It is also eaten with podi, a coarsely grounded spice mix with ghee or coconut oil. Idli is very spongy and Madurai is the best place to taste the softest idli in South India. There are many variants of idli based on the batter and stuffing. Sweet idli, rawa idli, vegetable idli and sweet lentil stuffed ldli are some of the examples. Idli with fish curry is a local famous dish of Southern part of Tamil Nadu.
Though biriyani is available throughout the country, there is always a special liking towards Hyderabadi biriyani. Each state of South India has its own variant of Biriyani. Biriyani is a non-veg dish in which meat and rice are cooked together along with spices. Dum biriyani is another variant that is very famous. Biriyani is available with vegetables too. You can find chicken, beef, seafood, lamb and many variant of biriyani. Biriyani is a royal dish of the country and it might be sometimes spicy too. Ask for a less spicy version. It is often served with raita or non-veg curry. There are almost 40 varieties of biriyani in South India.
It is similar to dosa but, the taste is miles apart from it. It is a pancake made with the same batter as that of dosa. But, the batter is added with finely chopped vegetables and also some mild spices like cumin, whole black pepper and others. It will be thick and smaller in circumference than a regular dosa. It is served with sambar and chutney.
It is not the regular coffee that you would find in cafes. Coffee is filtered in a coffee filter and boiled milk is added to it till its froths to half its quantity. The South Indian brew is famous for its rich aroma.
Puttu and boiled chickpea
This is a standard breakfast of Kerala. Puttu is a cylindrical rice cake made with generous amount of coconut scrapping and rice flour. It is served with boiled chickpea, banana or non-veg curry. There are many variants of puttu like sweet puttu, ragi puttu and so on. If you are in Kerala, you ought to try Puttu.
Though it is a dish that is known worldwide, this dish was first made in Bhuari hotels of India. It is a very famous delicacy of tender chicken. It is fried and mixed with rich spies and served dry or with gravy. There are many versions of stories to why this dish got its name. One such story states that the dish uses chickens that are exactly 65 days old.
Pickles of Andhra
Though it is not a main dish, the pickles of Andhra Pradesh have a signature taste. This might be due to their unique and exotic ingredients including sour spinach and others. Top pickles to enjoy here are chilly pickle, sour spinach pickle and small mango pickle. Rice with pickle and generous amount of warm ghee is a famous household dish here. You might not be able to find it in all restaurants.
Apart from these, there are Pongal, Malabar prawn curry, traditional dried fish curry with beans, kola urundai (spicy meat balls) and many others. May it be vegetarian or non-vegetarian, there is always a big list of things that you can enjoy here. South Indian cuisine is not always very hot and spicy. You can find very creamy dishes of Kerala, stylish European styled dishes of Goa, sweeter versions of Deccan cuisine and so on.