Most of the popular foods that you associate with Indian cuisine such as curries, naan bread and tandoor dishes are actually North Indian based. Let’s shine some light on which of our favourite dishes are South Indian.

Dosa

If you follow us, you’ll pick up that we mention Dosa a lot. There’s a reason it’s so popular all over the world and that is because along with its wonderful flavours, it also versatile. Typically gluten-free, these traditional Indian pancakes are made using rice or lentil flour. In India, it was traditionally served as a breakfast meal but has since gained popularity as a street food. They can also be paired with vegetables or meat and are accompanied by a range of tangy chutneys. They can also be switched up and made into sweet pancakes, though commonly they are savoury.

Vadas

Since we’re on the subject of foods that are usually associated with sweetness, Vadas are another breakfast option that is wonderfully unusual.  Vadas are an Indian savoury doughnut that are made from lentil flour, flavoured with an array of spices and then deep fried for a satisfying crunchy texture. We are fully on board with having doughnuts for breakfast.

Uttapam

Two words, savoury pancakes. Uttapam is very similar to Dosa except it is thicker and is lavishly topped with tomatoes, onion, chillies and sprinkled with a variety of herbs and spices. Uttapam is commonly eaten with Sambar (lentil stew) or colourful chutneys.

Pongal

From savoury doughnuts to sweet rice, South India really knows how to keep us on our toes. Pongal is a traditional sweet rice dish that is typically eaten at special occasions and cooked using an open fire or clay pot. Pongal is made using a base of milk and water and is believed by the Tamil’s that if the liquid boils over during cooking, it will bring good luck and prosperity to the family.

Appam

Another type of pancake, this time made using a mixture of rice flour and coconut milk, Appam is typically used as an accompaniment for a spicy curry. Interestingly, the Syrian Christians originally baked Appam on a stone. It’s most popularly eaten in Kerala, a region of South India, and can be eaten for breakfast or dinner.

Pulihora

Pulihora is a popular dish that is eaten all over South India. It is a rice dish that has been spiced with curry leaves, turmeric, tamarind, coriander, ginger and chillies. It’s common for the dish to also include lentils and sesame seeds and is mostly seen around festivals as its vibrant yellow colour symbolises festivities in the Hindu culture.

Hyderabadi biryani

Biryani is another classic Indian staple but the flavours and ingredients change depending on the region. Hyderabadi Biryani is the South Indian’s version of Biryani and can be cooked with different types of meat including goat, chicken and mutton. Its refreshing flavour comes from an abundance of lemon, yogurt, onion and saffron.

Sambar

As briefly mentioned earlier, Sambar is a hearty and flavoursome lentil stew. Its rich flavour comes from a base made from tamarind, lentils and a variety of fresh vegetables. The origin of this dish was actually an accident made by Maratha ruler Shivaji’s son named Sambhaji, who mistakingly put tamarind into the dal he was cooking. He did receive a scolding from the royal chefs, but at least Sambar was born!

South Indian Restaurant food really is a wonder and not at all what you’d consider to be ‘typical Indian food’.