17 Spicy and Popular South Indian Food

South Indian Food

Butter chicken, roasted chicken, and naan are just a few examples of Indian cuisine which all of us know by heart. These north Indian culinary dishes may appear on most restaurant menus in India and abroad, but they are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the variety of Indian cuisines available. You’ll need to travel down and taste the delicious south Indian food to broaden your palate, where the cuisine is primarily prepared with coconut or coconut oil.

South India is a foodie’s dream, with the delicious south Indian meals hailing from five southern states: Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, to name a few. South Indian food dishes are as diverse as the country itself, although rice, lentils, and coconut are mainstays. In south Indian cuisine, tamarind is commonly used as South Indian sambar powder and dried curry leaves. The food of the South is influenced by its topography as well as its cultural impact. There are usually vegetarian and non-vegetarian options for each of these five states.

The rich and spicy south Indian food is a big part of what makes it such a terrific tourism destination. While South Indians aren’t hesitant to try new things with their food, it’s the old traditions and recipes that make south Indian meals so special.

A typical south Indian food preparation for lunch consists of at least three to four dishes, with rice as the main ingredient. The meal generally begins with the traditional paruppu and ghee mixture, which is served with rice as an appetizer. Following that would be a rice-based kuzhambu or sambhar, which is generally the main meal. The third dish is Rasam, which comes in a variety of flavors such as paruppu rasam and tomato rasam, and is served with rice.

The last item will be rice with curd or yogurt, which is frequently served with a variety of pickles such as mango, poondu, and tomato. Desserts are provided as the final dish. Finally, visitors are escorted to the living room, where they are served bananas and freshly cooked paan made with betel leaves, betel nuts, and lime.

South Indian Food

The following are some noteworthy facts regarding south Indian foods: 

  • Rice is used as the main component in almost all South Indian cuisine. 
  • We all assume that South Indian foods consist mostly of dosas and idlis. But there’s a lot more, including a few popular South Indian recipes you might not have heard of before. While Andhra Pradesh offers Pesarattu, Upma, and Pulihaara, Karnataka’s South Indian cuisine is rather distinct, and you’ll be shocked to learn that they employ sweets like jaggery and palm sugar to enhance the flavor.
  • To prepare south Indian food dishes, coconut is utilized extensively in the preparation of cuisines. The main rationale for utilizing coconut as a basis is that Kerala, a state in south India, is India’s leading exporter of coconut and has an abundance of it across the state. 

Furthermore, south Indian dishes preparations are claimed to include a variety of qualities that make it one of the healthiest cuisines. The following are some of the reasons behind this:

  • Banana leaves are used to serve south Indian foods. It is said that banana leaves have therapeutic properties and that eating them improves one’s health. The rice was in the middle, with the other items adorning the banana leaf. Folding the banana leaf towards the front after finishing lunch or breakfast is considered a healthy practice. 
  • Curry leaves, mustard, asafetida, pepper, peppercorns, tamarind, chilies, garlic, and fenugreek seeds are common components in south Indian food preparations, and they have therapeutic properties. Garlic can help with acid reflux and indigestion. Sesamolin is found in sesame seeds, which is a common element in this cuisine. It keeps us youthful and active.
  • Rice and coconut are two of the most common ingredients in South Indian cuisine. The usage of coconut in the form of coconut water, coconut milk, unrefined coconut oil, and freshly grated coconut is unquestionably beneficial to the skin. Curd and buttermilk are also beneficial to skin health. Antioxidants found in vegetables, spices, and condiments play an important part in food. In general, the recipes are both good and healthful, as they do not include a lot of oil.

South Indian Food

  • Idli, a common dish in south India, is strong in protein and fiber; south Indian sambar has a variety of vegetables that are high in fiber and antioxidants; and dal, or lentil curry, is high in vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, folate, and magnesium. Sambar is also one of the greatest foods for digestion. As a result, south Indian food dishes are strong in protein, high in fiber, and have several weight-loss advantages.
  • Any south Indian dish is provided with a neutralizing agent. This oil, fat, and spicy neutralizer balances and neutralizes them. It can even help with food poisoning. Pepper rasam, horse gram soup, idli podi, banana flower bud salad, palm jaggery, ginger tea, and so on are examples of neutralizers. Even when food products are cooked with excessive oil, this aids digestion and absorbs excess fat.
  • Fermentation is used in almost every dish in south Indian cuisine, which is beneficial to one’s health. Fermented foods have three distinct advantages over non-fermented foods. 

1. It is simpler to digest, and it requires less energy from your body to consume south Indian food. 

2. Food that has been fermented has an increased nutritional value. This is because the fermentation process increases the food’s nutritional worth. It also promotes the intake of beneficial microorganisms in the body. Our bodies absorb more nutrients as the nutritional content of the food increases.

3. Fermented foods also help to improve the human body’s gut health. The eating of South Indian cuisine regularly promotes gastrointestinal health. We also know that the majority of lifestyle illnesses are caused by a faulty gut, and that fermented foods can help to combat these diseases. 

All south Indian meals, particularly sweets, are delectable. South Indian sweets are usually too impossible to refuse, whether it’s summer or winter. Badam kheer, besan ka halwa, besan burfi, coconut burfi, fruit kheer, puran poli, and many more sweets are the most popular in south India.

Overall, the aroma of crisp vadas, the sound of spluttering mustard seeds, the taste of piping-hot South Indian sambar cooked with fresh tamarind, and the touch of feather-light, delicate idlis are all sensory delights. 

If you ever visit this region, here are 17 of the most popular south Indian food dishes to try.

Idlis: steamed rice cakes

Many South Indian families enjoy idlis for breakfast because they are soft, fluffy, and ivory-colored. The resultant rice cakes are eaten with sambar and chutneys after a fermented lentil-and-rice batter is cooked in small circular molds. Idlis are light and gentle snacks that are perfect for when your stomach needs a break from spicy flavors. 

South Indian Food

A batter of fermented rice and lentils is ladled onto a griddle to make this. The toppings are then sprinkled atop, including chopped tomato, onion, chilies, carrot, coconut, and other ingredients. The outcome is a fluffy, porous, delectable uttapam that is soft and tastes well with or without chutneys.

Masala Dosa

They’re produced with fermented rice and black gram batter and come in a variety of flavors and are comparable to crepes. Thin and crispy dosas are served fresh with Sambar, a mild spicy soup ideal for dipping, and a variety of chutneys (sauces) made from coconut, tomato, mint, and other ingredients. The masala dosa, which is packed with fried onion and potato, is a popular choice among south Indian foods.


Punugulu is a snack that is also worth eating during the morning time. It is a type of salty crispy puff (pakora) enjoyed by all. The same batter that is used to make idli is used to make this deep-fried crispy snack. This lip-smacking breakfast dish is nicely complemented by coconut chutney and tea/coffee.


Upma is a thick porridge cooked with dry-roasted semolina or coarse rice flour that is consumed for breakfast and dinner. Many different vegetables, spices, curry leaves, and groundnuts are used to prepare it. 

Sarva Pindi
South Indian Food

This meal will appeal to individuals who want to eat nutritious cuisine for breakfast and follow a food pyramid diet, as it is prepared with at least one staple from each tier. This savory pancake, also known as Ganju Pindi in some parts of the region, is made with rice flour, peanuts, chili, and chana dal and baked in a deep pan.

Vadas: Savory Doughnuts

A vada will not solve your sugar cravings, but it will satisfy your want for anything deep-fried, spicy, and crispy. This crisp fritter tastes best when spread generously with coconut chutney, which is made from a batter of black lentils delicately flavored with peppercorns, curry leaves, cumin, chili, and onion. It is easily one of the most loved south Indian food items.

Hyderabadi Biryani

When compared to biryanis from other parts of India, this one has a distinct flavor. It’s made using basmati rice, veggies or meat, onions, spices, lemon, and saffron. It has a unique eccentric flavor due to the method of preparation and the spices used.


This is a super meal that I’m sure many of you are familiar with. Rasam, a soupy meal with a lot of acidic flavors that is everyone’s favorite, is a fantastic complement to rice. It’s made up of a fusion of flavors like tomatoes, black peppers, curry leaves, chili, garlic, and traditional spices that come together to create a delectable flavor that’s also beneficial for a sore throat. This delectable treat is an excellent way to keep your digestive system healthy.

Mirch ka Salan 

Mirchi Ka Salan would be the first choice of many people if you asked them to select one supper meal that would leave a lasting impression on me. This original regional supper meal is spicy and goes well with chapati and rice (which you could wonder about by its name only). Cooked with fennel, cumin seeds, mustard, and cinnamon, as well as long green chilies, this meal has a blast of flavor to savor (wow, that rhymes!). On top of that, roasted peanuts lend a gritty element to the meal.

Akki Roti
South Indian Food

Akki Roti, Karnataka’s characteristic dish, is a popular breakfast meal for both fitness enthusiasts and foodies in the state. This enticing dish is made with rice flour, onions, curry leaves, carrots, cumin seeds, and sesame seeds, and served with dal or coconut chutney to offer a healthy touch and delicious taste. Akki roti is also known as rice bread in the local tongue. 

Puttu and Kadala Curry

Puttu with Kadala Curry is a very popular south Indian food in Kerala. Kadala is a kala chana (black peas) curry that can be made more wonderful by adding grated coconut and ripe bananas while puttu is composed of rice and is cylindrical. The crumbly texture of Puttu combined with the tangy flavor of Kadala Curry makes this meal a favorite breakfast among Malayalis not only in a few places but throughout the state.

Kori Gassi

This south Indian food delicacy is self-explanatory. Kori Gassi, a great rice companion, is a lifeline for any non-vegetarian in a south Indian household. Chicken pieces are cooked with chilies, garlic, cumin seeds, black pepper, turmeric, and other traditional spices in this delectable afternoon Mangalorean meal. The regal flavor combined with the flaky texture of each spice is enough to satisfy your hunger.

Fish Molee
South Indian Food

Never make the mistake of equating this amazing meal with regular fish curry. Fish molee, considered one of south India’s, especially Kerala’s, most popular lunch meals, is cooked using coconut milk, dried fish, and other traditional spices to give it a spicy flavor. This wonderful fish stew, which is best eaten with appam, may have originated during the Portuguese occupation of India.

Curd Rice

After a day of consuming hot and sour delights, your supper should be something attractive as well as healthy, which is why curd rice is liked by everyone who tries it. Curd Rice, a tangy-salty meal popular in Andhra Pradesh, is cooked with rice and unsweetened curd, along with a pinch of salt to add flavor. Curry leaves, peanuts, ginger, and green chilies can be added as toppings to make them more delectable. To make it a healthy supper, folks add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and urad dal tadka.

Double Ka Meetha

It’s usually a good idea to conclude your delicious lunch or dinner meal on a high note with a delectable dessert. Double Ka Meetha, a scrumptious sweet south Indian food dish made with dried fruits, bread, and condensed milk. This bread pudding dish is extremely similar to shahi tukda from Awadhi cuisine. This meal is traditionally served during Ramadan and Eid, and is made using milk-soaked fried loaves of bread, cardamom, and saffron to give it a syrupy sweet flavor. On typical days, though, it may be found at a variety of eateries.

South Indian Food

A dessert should be prepared in such a way that it always satisfies the connoisseur’s taste after a variety of main dishes have been served. There is no substitute for Payasam in south India. When sprinkled with dried fruits and chopped coconut, a traditional sweet rice kheer made with rice, milk, ghee, and sugar takes on a more crumbly flavor. This delicious dessert offers several versions that all use the same components!!!

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