Vegetarian South Indian Dishes You Need to Try Once

When you think Indian food, do you think butter chicken, samosas and naan? Of course! They’re delicious and should be celebrated. But what you may not know is they’re indigenous to Northern parts of India. Southern India celebrates food a little differently. The recipes down south significantly differ from those you’d find in the north. While North Indian food is spicy and usually high in fat (most likely to support the body to deal with colder climate of the regions), South Indian food is considered a bit more subtle in its flavors and lighter on the stomach. Of course, generalizations of any cuisine aren’t fair, since they’re so diverse. So it’s really a matter of exploring different types of food and discovering what suits your palate.

Which Food Dishes Are Popular in South India?

So what constitutes South Indian food? The Dosa—a crepe made with fermented rice and lentil batter—is extremely popular. It’s served with delicious dips and chutneys and is an excellent breakfast or snack dish in India. With the same batter, you can also make Idli—a steamed, low calorie, gluten-free delicacy. Most of these items are served for breakfast, though you could definitely consider this as a main entree for meal planning. Besides Idli and Dosa, there are many varieties of Upma—a porridge lookalike made with healthy ingredients like rice, millets, semolina, vermicelli and so on.

While these are what you’d consider appropriate for a healthy breakfast or snack time, there’s so much more you have in the cuisine for lunch and dinner. Rice is crucial in any main course South Indian meal. Everything revolves around rice. It is usually served with different gravies, broths and curries, along with stir-fried vegetables, fried papad and pickles. Sambar is a thick lentil dish that’s spiced with a spice-mix, coconut, coriander and vegetables. Rasam on the other hand, is a similar lentil-based dish, but is thinner and resembles a broth. Both are tamarind-based liquids that taste delicious with rice. To finish a meal, yogurt is mixed with rice and tempered with mustard, curry leaves, asafetida and green chilies.

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