When we speak about south Indian food we include all the five states of India lies in the southern part of the country, i.e. Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamilnadu and Kerala. By and large South Indian cuisine is perhaps the hottest of the Indian food. Whether it is spicy, hot Andhra cuisine or fiery Chettinad of Tamilnadu, it has a perfect blend of lentils, curry leaves, mustard, asafetida, pepper and peppercorns, tamarind, chilies, fenugreek seeds and peanut powder. Huli pudi (also known as sambar powder) is also used to spice up the dishes.
An Indian who doesn’t belong to south India usually only think about masala dosa or idli, vada when he wants to have south Indian food. Seldom people would experiment with south Indian meal or main course food which has all the flavours of south.
One must try authentic south Indian meal which is basically a healthy combination of curries, vegetables /chicken/fish eaten with brown/white rice. All meals are centred around rice, the staple diet of south Indians. They don’t eat phulkas/rotis/chapiti (wheat flour flat bread) like north indians. On the contrary they have variations of rice dishes like appams, uttapams or dosas (pancakes made from a batter of rice and lentil flour). Poori is occasionally served in breakfast and lunch during festivities.
Now a days some healthier options are also used for non rice eaters for preparing these dishes, like ragi flour, oats, lentils or rava ( semolina) to make it protein rich but these lack the authentic taste as well as texture of the original recipe.
The curries and gravies are delicious and infused with ground spices. Sambar (a soup-like lentil dish tempered with whole spices and chilies), rasam (a hot-sour soup-like lentil dish), Avial, having lot of seasonal veggies, drumsticks simmered in yogurt coconut milk, veg/ non veg kootu (stew), fried veggies dry/ fish dry , poriyal are some typical dishes which are cooked in almost all house holds of south India.
The meal is complimented with different types of chutneys, papad, curd, pickles, paysam etc. All these dishes are supposed to be eaten with hand. Using spoon, fork or knife will be a kind of insult to south Indian culture.
Chutneys are the integral part of this cuisine and has vast varieties. Mostly coconut and putnala pappu (roasted chana dal) and gun powder (a mixture of dal/lentils seeds, and spices) Karakoram powder is extensively used to prepare spicy red chutneys.
So next time if you visit south belt do not hesitate to indulge into some very popular veg and non veg meals and enjoy the rich heritage of the country. I am sure you will not regret your decision of skipping masala dosa. Do share in comments if you had tasted it before. I shall bring more exciting posts on filter coffee and tea lovers out there.