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South Indian Delicacies

India’s peninsular region is endowed with water bodies and the seas. The land is vast and comprises of four states that can all together boast of around a dozen different cuisines. This, it might come as a surprise to you, is more than any other part of Asia.

There is something unique about the South Indian food that evokes extreme devotion from all who take pride in its food culture. And South Indian food does not stop at the dosa and the idli, the payasam or the molagapudi. No doubt these bind the cultures together and present a perfect platter to the world that wants a taste of South Indian food now. But let’s read on a bit to know more.

South Indian cuisine has its own niche. If you are in Andhra Pradesh you will relish a coastal Andhra, Telangana and Rayalseema cuisine in addition to Mughlai in Nizami style. Karnataka? It will give you north Karnataka, Saraswat, Coorgi and Mangalorean cuisines. Take a trip to Tamil Nadu to relish its Chettinad cuisine, Madurai and Coimbatore styles of cooking. Kerala, God’s own country, has the Moplah, the Syrian Christian and the Palakkad Iyer food to boast of.

South Indian food is based on a calculated and scientific culture that has been passed down from one generation to another. There is a basic understanding of what to eat in the winters and summers, what not to when one is ill, what to eat to avoid being ill and what to eat when one has a fever. There are no owners for these rules but these safely guarded secrets and recipes are an integral part of traditional South Indian home cooking. 


Dakshin Delights

Enter a South Indian kitchen and expect to see a variety of mortars, pestles and grinding stones. These are not only for chutneys and powders but also for grinding rice for batters. Chutneys made on the traditional stone taste different from those that are ground in electric mixers and in South India chutney can be made from roasted pulses to fresh vegetables to tender coconut. There is no meal in the South without a chutney or two. 

Rice is the staple crop in all four states. It is the staple grain. Rice flour is uses to draw the daily kollams outside every South Indian home as it has auspicious significance. There are various avatars of rice in all four states and is considered the ideal cereal for breakfast as it is high in carbohydrates and gives sustained energy. That is very well demonstrated in the variety of dosas and idlis. Coconut too is a common binder in all four states. Konkani people might enjoy their breakfast of khotto, while puttu is popular in Kerala. Akki roti is loved in Karnataka. In main courses, rice takes on the form of pulihogare in thayir saddam in Tamil Nadu, bisi bele bath and chitranna in Karnataka, and sweet versions like pongal and pradhaman in Tamil Nadu.

Idli in Andhra will be salty and soft served with the fresh chutneys, and the Mangalorean version will come with ishtew, while in Kerala you can expect idlis with chicken and meat curries. All across the south you will also find dosas in different versions like uttapam, rava dosa, set dosa, pesaruttu, dibbarottey etc. Vadas are not just fried balls of ground dal. Know about the gaarelu and boorelu of Andhra, Mysore bonda and maddurvade of Karnataka and meduvadai and paruppu vadai of Tamil Nadu. So when one says idli sambar or wada sambar epitomising the South Indian cuisine, we are aware that there is much more to them!

Like I said before the peninsula of India is seafood rich. There is a huge business made out of it. Fresh fish, dried fish of various varieties marks coastal Andhra cuisine. Dried fish with red chillies and tamarind is a basic meal. This same thing becomes a ghassi along the Konkan coast with tamarind being replaced with kokum as is the case in fish preparation of Kerala too which also can be enriched with the rich bounty of spices like peppercorns, cardamom and cinnamon. The Chettinaads of Tamil Nadu are also great fish eaters. 

Call is sambar, sambhar, the delicious blend of dal with vegetables and freshly ground masala powders, with a tempering of mustard, cumin and curry leaves is probably the most typical, the most aromatic of all South Indian foods. And the most mouth watering! There is no fixed recipe for sambar as every household has its own recipe, its own masala blend. But what is essential to know is that sambar is an inevitable part of a South Indian meal. As is the pappadam, pickle, payasam and pachadi!

Here let’s get together and enjoy a grand show of Dakshin Delights! 

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.