Rice is a staple and the spiciness of the food depends on the region. A majority of the Hindu population in South India are vegetarians and you are likely to find many pure vegetarian restaurants all over the place, especially in rural areas or temple towns. Places like Srirangam in Tamil Nadu or Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh don’t allow non-vegetarian food to be brought into the town at all.
Try local delicacies on your South India tour and you won’t be disappointed. In coastal Kerala, which has a large Muslim and Jewish population, meat and fish are eaten regularly. Andhra cuisine is one of the spiciest in the country! Hyderabad, a tourist destination in Andhra Pradesh has its own style of cuisine and is a gastronomical delight! Home to the Nawabs of yore, the city is very popular for its spicy biryani and kebabs!
The food of Karnataka is probably the mildest in South India and most of the population in Karnataka are vegetarian. Coastal Karnataka, especially Mangalore, is known for the seafood and chutneys. Coorg, located near Mysore, has a separate cuisine of its own. Pork, game and meat cooked in kokum is a hallmark of Coorgi cuisine, which is touted as one of the best in the region!
In Kerala, the land of spices, food is traditionally served on banana leaves. Coconut and seafood are usually included in every meal. On a houseboat tour in Alleppey with us, expect to be served up the fresh catch of the day right at the source, cooked in authentic Kerala style. While in smaller towns and villages, delicious local food rules the roost, in Cochin or kochi expect to find an amalgam of flavors from around the world, liberally peppered with Portuguese and local influence.
Tamil meals are elaborate – a variety of side dishes are served with steamed rice served on a banana leaf. Except for Brahmins, most Tamils eat non-vegetarian although not very frequently. Chettinad, in southern Tamil Nadu, is famous for its spicy, non-vegetarian fare. In Pondicherry, French influence on the cuisine is rather evident and the French quarter serves some excellent Mediterranean food.
Whet your appetite for these South Indian specialties:
- Gosht biryani: meat biryani popular in Hyderabad
- Dum-ka-murgh: chicken cooked in Hyderabad style
- Bisi Bele Baath: a slightly sour mixture of rice and lentils served hot in Karnataka
- Rasam: lentil soup with a tamarind base, popular everywhere in South India
- Pandi curry: pork meat curry cooked in Coorgi style
- Shrimp coconut curry: a delicacy in Kerala
- Fish moilee: famous Kerala seafood dish
- Idiyappam: string hoppers made with rice flour pressed into noodles and steamed
- Chettinad pepper chicken: chicken cooked in a pepper and curry leaves and served spicy hot
- Masala dosa: rice pancake stuffed with potato, onion, mustard seed and turmeric and served with sambar (a vegetable gravy) and a fresh chutney (usually coconut). Served across South India and with multiple variations.
Top India Travel Tip – Cuisine: You can never over dosa! Breakfasts in South India are renowned.
Idlis (steamed rice flour cakes), dosas (rice flour pancakes) and vadas (savory rice flour donuts) served with sambar are the most popular types of breakfast in South India and you will find many small street side shops and pure vegetarian hotels (semi-open restaurants) catering to a large clientele on any given morning.
In temple tows such as Madurai and Thanjavur, vegetarian fare is more commonly available although larger hotels do serve meat and fish.
We look forward to welcoming you on your private South India tour.