10 Popular South Indian Foods and Desserts

Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh-Telangana, Tamil Nadu, and Goa are the five southern states that make up South Indian cuisine. The cuisine of the South is influenced by both location and culture. As with other countries, there are significant geographical differences, and even within a single state, cuisine can vary substantially. All five states often have vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. In addition, each region has its own signature major dishes, snacks, light meals, desserts, and drinks.
Let’s have a look at the top 10 South Indian dishes.


The top two grains consumed by Indians are rice and wheat, with rice topping the list. Indians have converted this simple grain into a variety of sweet and savoury delicacies unlike any other civilization on the planet. The simple dosa is a tribute to the country’s never-ending love affair with rice.

Dosa is a crispy crepe cooked with fermented rice and lentil batter that is a favourite South Indian breakfast. It’s commonly served with mashed spiced potatoes, lentil stew called sambar, and coconut chutney within a thin crispy crepe.


Vada is an Indian savoury fried snack type. Fritters, cutlets, donuts, and dumplings are all terms used to describe vadas. Wada, vade, vadai, wadeh, and bara are some of the other names for this dish. Vadas are made from legumes. After soaking in water, the legumes are ground into a batter. Other ingredients such as cumin seeds, onion, curry leaves, salt, chilies, or black pepper grains are then added to the batter. In shops, ginger and baking soda are frequently added to the seasoning to improve the fluffy texture and fermentation for large batches. The batter is then formed and deep-fried, yielding crispy vadas with a fluffy interior. They’re sometimes referred to as southern savoury donuts.


Appam is a South Indian pancake made with fermented rice batter and coconut milk that is popular in Kerala, Sri Lanka, and Tamil Nadu. It’s most commonly consumed for breakfast or dinner. Bowl-shaped thin pancakes prepared from fermented rice flour are known as plain appam or vella appam.

The appam-pan in which they are fried gives them their form. They’re excellent, not too sweet or savoury, and they’re served with Kerala-style mutton stew, Kerala-style chickpea curry, Kerala-style chicken curry, and other curries. Rice, yeast, salt, and a little sugar are used in the batter for these pancakes. After a couple of hours, the mixture can be cooked in the appachatti with a little coconut oil.


Puttu is a breakfast meal popular in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and parts of Karnataka in South India, as well as Sri Lanka. In Tamil and Malayalam, puttu means “portioned.” It’s a steamed ground rice cylinder topped with coconut shavings, occasionally with a sweet or savoury filling. Puttu is served hot with sweet side dishes such palm sugar or banana, as well as curries like dal, chickpea, mutton, fish, chicken, or beef. Puttu is made up of coarsely crushed rice, grated coconut, a pinch of salt, and some water. It is frequently seasoned with cumin, but other spices may be used.

Malabar Parota

Parotta or Porotta (Parathas) is a layered flatbread from the Indian subcontinent made of maida or atta, often known as a flaky ribbon pancake. It’s particularly popular in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, and it’s also commonly available in Karnataka and Maharashtra. Porottas can be seen on the streets and at restaurants all over Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana. It’s also offered at weddings, religious festivals, and feasts in some regions.

Maida/wheat flour, egg (in some recipes), oil or ghee, and water are kneaded together. Similar to puff pastry, the dough is stretched into thin layers and coated with oil. The laminated layers are preserved by folding and rolling the dough into a circular shape. These layers become flaky and crispy on the outside and soft and moist on the inside when cooked on a hot griddle. Porottas/Parathas go well with vegetable kurma/korma, chicken, fish, mutton, or beef curry. They’re sometimes offered packed with veggies like potatoes or radish and served with yoghurt or raita. Parottas are used to make chilli parotta and kothu parotta.

Chicken Ishtu

Kerala-style chicken stew is a moderate but tasty chicken curry made with coconut milk and mild spices that is a classic cuisine from the Indian state of Kerala. It’s a morning staple in Kerala’s Syrian Catholic population, and it’s served with rice hoppers (pancakes).

The flavours of cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves are combined to create a sweet yet aromatic flavour. The veggies of choice here are potatoes, beans, and carrots, which provide body and texture to the overall dish. Also called as nadan chicken ishtu, this dish is customarily prepared with coconut oil, which brings the flavour to a whole new level.

Beef Ularthiyathu

Kerala beef fry is a meal cooked with slow roasted beef, onions, curry leaves, and slivers of coconut, then fried in coconut oil. The dish is also known as “Beef Ullarthiyathu” in Kerala. The dish’s origins can be traced back to 52 CE, when Syrian Christians were reported to have moved in Kerala; however, the first Jewish settlers came in Kerala as early as 7 CE, bringing with them Kosher cattle slaughter procedures, which may have contributed to the recipe’s creation. Cooked with onions, shallots, ginger, and garlic, the meal is made by cooking chunks of beef in a spice mixture that includes turmeric, coriander, garam masalablack pepper, and red chili. Coconut slivers sautéed in coconut oil, as well as curry leaves, are used as garnish. Typically, the meat is softened in a pressure cooker before being slow roasted in a spice mixture until it achieves a dry consistency. Kerala beef fry is usually served with Kerala porotta, however in other regions of the state, such as Thrippunithara, the meal is served with pazham pori, or banana fritters, and has become a popular combination.

Mysore paak

Mysore paak is a ghee based Indian dessert. It started in Mysuru, one of the largest cities in the Indian state of Karnataka. It’s made with a lot of ghee, sugar, gramme flour, and sometimes cardamom. Depending on the variant, the texture of this sweet is similar to a buttery and dense cookie or a creamy milky fudge. It is commonly served at weddings and other festivities in southern India, as well as at baby  showers.

Paal Payasam

Payasam is a sweet food and a type of wet pudding popular in India. It is typically made with boiling milk, sugar or jaggery, and rice, but it can also be made with daals, bulgur wheat, millet, tapioca, vermicelli, or  sweet corn. Desiccated coconut, cardamom, raisins, saffron, cashews, pistachios, almonds, or other dry fruits and nuts are common flavours, while pseudo-grains have recently gained favour. It’s commonly served as a dessert. Kheer, or payas as it is known in southern India, was a popular dish in ancient India, according to food  historian K. T. Achaya. It was a blend of rice, milk, and sugar that was first mentioned in ancient Indian literature and has lasted for over two thousand years. Payas is a popular Hindu temple meal that is provided as Prasda to devotees.

Ada Pradhaman

This is a traditional Kerala dish that is famous during the Onam and Vishu celebration. Ada Pradhaman is a payasam variety made of ada rice, cashew nuts, coconut, and palm jaggery that has been thoroughly combined. It’s a simple, tasty Indian treat to enjoy over the holiday season. Rice flour, often known as ada, is the major ingredient in wafers/noodles. Rice ada is traditionally made fresh and consumed the same day. Freshly prepared Ada Pradhaman and Palada are a real pleasure. The  key flavouring elements in this dish are cardamom, coconut milk, and jaggery.

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