South Indian dishes in general refers to a distinct category of the cuisine made in the five southern states of India viz. Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana as well as the union territory of Puducherry (earlier Pondicherry).
Though there are subtle differences from state to state, South Indian recipes are generally characterized by presence of rice as a staple food, use of lentils and spices, both dried red and green chilies, curd, coconut and vegetables like tamarind, plantain(cooking Banana), drumstick, snake gourd, garlic, and curry leaves.
The South Indian cuisine is well known and famous for its light, low calorie, flavouful and appetizing dishes. The wonderful mixing of rice and lentils results in mouth-watering Dosas, Idlis, Upmas, Vadas and Uttapams which when accompanied by yummy Chutneys and Sambar are irresistible.
Though there are many commonalities, South Indian dishes use different spices than North Indian ones. Tamarind is frequently used in stews. Sambar Powder is used to spice South Indian dishes whereas in North India, use of Garam Masala is more common. Similarly Dried curry leaves are used to flavor some of the soups and fresh curry leaves are more abundantly used for seasoning and tempering.
The majority of a diverse variety of South Indian dishes are rice, vegetable or lentil-based. Due to use of tamarind, curry plant leaves and chilli, these dishes are generally tangy. The cuisines of Andhra are famous for generous use of spices and Chili. Some of the most common traditional Indian breakfasts like idli, vada and masala dosa owe their origin to the temple town of Udipi.
South Indian Dals and curries are in general soupier than their North Indian counterparts. The South Indian food strikes a good balance of simplicity, nutrition, flavor, fragrance, taste, and is visually appealing. Idli is considered as one of the best breakfast in the world. Idli has a good mix of carbohydrates from rice , protein and minerals from urad dal. Further the fermentation process makes it rich in good bacteria and as it is steamed there is no loss of nutrients and no extra calories are added as it is not fried in oil.
The list of South Indian recipes is endless. Some of these include Dosa, Idli, Vada, Uttapam, Upma, Curd Rice, Idiyappam, Achappam, Murukku, Ven Pongal, Pulihora (Tamarind rice), Lemon Rice, Tomato Rice, Sambhar, Rasam, Neer Mor, Nendran chips (banana chips), Sakkarai Pongal (Sweet Pongal), Mysore Pak, Payasa and so forth. Within each broad category there are many subcategories like Sada Dosa, Rava Dosa, Masala Dosa, Mysore Masala Dosa, Butter Dosa, Paneer Dosa, Onion Rava Dosa, Paper Dosa etc.
Equally famous are South Indian chutneys. South Indian chutneys which come in many varieties, colors and flavors and often are the best combination with Idli and Dosa and many other south Indian dishes. They are made from one or more of the ingredients like fresh coconut ground with green chillies, tamarind, roasted bengal gram, curd, peanuts, dal (lentils), ginger, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, fresh curry leaves and fresh cilantro leaves.
Check out some recipes of delicious South Indian dishes.