Does southern Indian food remind you only of idli and dosa? Well, it has so much more to offer than the overrated foods. Check out the top south Indian delicacies here!
Hey! India is a diverse nation with different cultures and languages. But we Indians are united by food. With so many different types of cuisines in India itself, you need to make a separate bucket list for the local delicacies to try in each state. Who wouldn’t want to eat hot parathas coated with ghee while visiting Punjab or the lip smacking Kashmiri tea in Kashmir? I once heard that you can learn so much about a country’s culture just through their food. I couldn’t agree more!
So, being a south Indian myself, I wanted others to know about the different food items here! I have listed a couple of delicacies that should be on your must try list if you’re visiting south India. Basically, I’m from Bangalore and I have visited almost all the places in south of India. And currently, I’m exploring the Tamil Nadu cuisine after moving to Chennai. And I, myself have a bucket list to try so many delicacies. So, this list consists of the food items you need to try when you visit each state. Let’s check them out!
Yummy Southern Indian Food to Try
1. Bisi Bele Bath
Bisi bele bath is perhaps the most famous southern Indian food after the basic idli and dosa. It’s prepared by cooking dal, rice, tamarind extract and your choice of veggies. It’s the perfect breakfast or brunch dish!
2. Akki Rotti (Rice Flour Bread)
Akki rotti is yet another famous breakfast delicacy in Karnataka. It’s prepared with rice flour dough (with a consistency between roti dough and dosa batter). Akki rotti tastes best with coconut chutney.
Holige is prepared from dal and jaggery stuffed into flour and rolled into a circle and cooked on a pan. It’s a dessert prepared during festivals and is eaten with ghee and milk. Try a homemade one for the best taste.
4. Masala Puri
Masala puri is the best street food ever. The ball shaped puris are crushed and a special peas masala curry is poured over the puris. And topped with chopped onions, tomatoes and grated carrots. I haven’t had it anywhere else. Though, my SlubTeam mate Anusha told me it’s available In Andhra Pradesh, too! So, if you happen to visit these states, do try it for the best street food experience!
5. Neer Dosa
Neer dosa is a traditional Mangalorean dish served with chutney and coconut and jaggery mixture. The dosa batter consistency is flowy or watery, hence the name neer, meaning water. If you’re a non vegetarian, try it with chicken curry.
6. Ragi Mudde (Finger Millet Ball)
Ragi (finger millet) mudde (sticky ball) is yet another famous lunch/ dinner dish in Karnataka. It’s served with saaru (watery curry)!
7. Thatte Idli (Plate Idli)
Thatte idlis have a heavenly taste. The shape of these idlis are of a plate, hence the name. They’re served with red chutney and you can find the tastiest ones in Brahmin restaurants. Period!
8. Khara Bath
Upma is a well-known and easy morning breakfast in southern Indian food. However, it’s a specialty in restaurants to have upma with sweet rava upma or kesari bath. The combination of these two is known as khara bath.
9. Set Dosa
Set dosa is a thicker version of dosa topped with grated carrots and chopped cilantro. It’s served with coconut chutney and veg curry. Try it in a local restaurant for the best taste!
10. Avarekalu Saaru
Avarekalu (lablab) saaru (watery curry) is famous in Karnataka region. You don’t get these seeds elsewhere in India, which makes it a special dish in southern Indian food!
Andhra Pradesh Delicacies
1. Hyderabadi Biryani
Layered rice, marinated meat and fried onions. The king of all biryanis – Hyderabadi biryani is something all meat lovers should try in Hyderabad for the authentic taste!
2. Karachi Hyderabad Biscuits
Yet another famous Hyderabadi item here! One of my annoying cousin bought me (uh! actually for my family, we both don’t gel well!) these biscuits from Hyderabad. They were so good that I couldn’t have just one!
3. Paruppu Podi (Chana Dal Powder)
Podi is most common in the southern Indian food culture. It’s basically dry chutney that can be stored in jars for months. Usually, it’s mixed with ghee or curd and eaten with rice, roti, dosa or idli. In a traditional Andhra meal, podi is a common sight. There are varieties to try but channa dal podi tops the list. Whether it’s from a restaurant or homemade, it always tastes good.
4. Tomato Rasam
Rasam is yet another common southern Indian food. But tomato rasam is lip smacking in spicy Andhra style!
5. Puliyogare (Tamarind Rice)
Puliyogare or tamarind rice is the most favorite delicacy for people from north India staying in the south. The tangy rice tastes the best in prasadam offerings in temples. In fact, I go to temples for this *makes embarrassed face*!
My SlubTeam mate, Anusha is in all awe of this sweet. She praised it so much that next time she visits Andhra Pradesh, she’s gonna get me some of these mouth watering sweets. Also, she recommends to have it in restaurants or street style food!
7. Gongura Thokku or Pickle
Gongura or hibiscus leaves are famous in Andhra Pradesh, used for a variety of chutneys, pickles and dal. Gongura pickle is spicy, tangy and can accompany any South Indian dish.
8. Majiga Pulusu
Pulusus are watery or flowy consistency curries in Andra Pradesh. They are similar to Karnataka ‘saaru’. Majiga pulusu is prepared with buttermilk and is eaten with steamed rice and ghee.
9. Sabudana Upma
Sabudana upma is another must try south Indian food in Andhra Pradesh. It’s on my wishlist! In fact, I’m planning to cook it myself for an authentic taste. You can try it in restaurants or at a localite’s house.
Pappu is the spicier version of Dal. Andhra Pradesh is known for spicy food and someone like me can’t survive it! But it’s worth a try because you cannot miss out the yummy food.
Tamil Nadu Delicacies
1. Ven Pongal
Pongal is a form of kichidi. A perfect breakfast to kick start your day. Also, you need to try the sweet pongal – a perfect dessert for some sweet memories.
2. Idli & Sambhar
Yes, we’re adding this to the list! If you visit south India, especially Tamil Nadu, and you don’t eat Idli, then you’re missing something in your life. Restaurants or homemade or street style food, they all taste the same. And the sambhar varies but the best I have tasted until now is from Ratna Cafe, Chennai. Also, try mini idlis or spicy idlis for a variety, which are all available in the best south Indian restaurants in Chennai.
3. Medu Vada
Medu Vada makes a great breakfast and evening snacks, too. You need to try it with coconut chutney in restaurants.
4. Sweet Paniyaram
Paniyaram is prepared from the idli batter in a special pan. These are good as breakfast or evening snacks. I have had the spicy version in Bangalore and Chennai but my SlubTeam mate, Nishita introduced me to the sweet version of paniyaram, I’m gonna try it ASAP!
5. Podi Idli
Podi idli tastes heavenly. The idlis are brushed with podi (dry chutney powder) and ghee. It melts in your mouth. You have to try this in Tamil Nadu. Even if you have to travel here to eat it, I don’t care!
6. Buhari Chicken 65
So, chicken 65 was found in a hotel called Buhari in Chennai. The basic most favorite dish of meat eaters was created in south India! Should I say anything more?!
7. Chettinad Chicken Fry
The spicy Chettinad chicken fry is a semi gravy and a side dish.
8. Ambur Biryani
Ambur biryani is prepared with normal rice, unlike the basmati rice used for biryani. And the ground paste used is also different. It tastes the best in a place called Ambur in Tamil Nadu.
9. Plain Dosa
How can anyone miss the crisp plain dosa when in Tamil Nadu? Try with a variety of chutneys from coconut to pudina to groundnut!
Uthappam is a thicker version of dosa topped with chopped onions and served with chutney.
Okay, I start the Kerala delicacies with appam. It’s like dosa, but curvy, made out of fermented rice batter. I haven’t had it yet but Shilpa told me that my life isn’t complete without having it. *makes the saddest face* But I’m gonna try it really really soon. Appam can be served with veg stew – in traditional Kerala style, or with cauliflower kurma in Tamil style.
2. Banana Chips
Kerala is famous for banana chips. Personally, I’m not a fan but they’re a must try in god’s own country!
3. Egg Curry
The egg curry in Kerala is scrumptious and you cannot ignore it. It tastes good with parotta or steamed rice.
4. Fish Curry + Kappa
Now, this suggestion comes straight from a Keralite friend of mine. So, kappa is tapioca served with traditional fish curry. Though I’m an ‘eggitarian’, my mouth’s watering!
Idiyappam is a breakfast dish served with veg stew or meat curry, also popular in Tamil Nadu! It’s basically rice noodles! I think I’m gonna have ’em just like that. How about that?!
6. Puttu Kadala
Puttu Kadala is yet another breakfast dish that’s famous in Kerala. It is cylindrical in shape and made with rice flour. Even rice balls that are different in shape are pretty famous! This dish is served with veg or chicken curry.
7. Ada Payasam
The traditional payasam is from Kerala. It’s an authentic dish during Onam and is a must try south Indian food!
Parottas are a thick version of roti but they’re also twisted and rolled, unlike the north Indian parathas. Have ’em with egg curry for the best taste.
9. Prawn/ Beef Roast
Another coastal delicacy in Kerala. Prawns roast is a must try and if you’re into beef, try the beef roast in Kerala as it’s difficult to find beef dishes in restaurants in other states in India!
Yet another Onam specialty side dish. It’s a thick mixture of veggies and coconut gratings seasoned with coconut oil and curry leaves!
So, these were the must try southern Indian food. Which delicacies have you tried? And which one’s on your list? Tag us on Instagram @shilpaahujadotcom when you try the yummylicious southern Indian food!
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Sahana is a Senior Staff Writer at ShilpaAhuja.com. With an experience in fashion and lifestyle writing, Sahana is responsible for Indian and international fashion week coverage every year, and is developing an expertise in apparel trend forecasting. She also writes about health and fitness, having pursued yoga for 6 years now. She’s not a gym person at all but is all for “running in the park” and is an amateur cyclist. Books and coffee are her other passions. She’s also an amateur photographer. She’s a hardcore Bollywood fan and she loves to cover the nostalgic topics on the same. From fashion trends to famous characters, she can make anyone love Bollywood! Her best article has been 90s Bollywood fashion, a readers’ favorite so far! Prior to her experience with ShilpaAhuja.com, Sahana has written as a freelance author for online magazine, Mashup Corner, and interned at EventsHigh as a content writer. Her blogs on basic fashion, makeup, fitness and city’s food joints that gave her a chance to experiment with her writing. She also has voiced her opinions about feminism and equal rights for men and women at PolkaCafe journals and after quitting her job, she decided to take up writing as her full time career.
Sahana is an engineering graduate and has worked in an MNC, Tesco, for more than a year as an Operations Support. It was her sheer love for fashion that made her quit the monotonous 9 to 5 job to pursue a career in the fashion industry. She’s originally from Bangalore and is currently settled in Chennai (she’s loving the city)! For any queries and discussions, contact her at [email protected] You can also tweet her at https://twitter.com/Sahana_17