15 South Indian delicacies to give you an instant foodgasm!

It is said that ‘To win the hearts of people, the path is through their stomachs’. I would completely agree with that as I am a crazy foodie. But then as a matter of fact even non foodies would love the foodgsm they get when they taste something new and different. It is not always necessary that non – foodies will not appreciate anything new on their plates. So with reference to food let me put some spice of light on what all you can expect if you opt to have a South Indian food (rather thali) someday:

Let’s begin with some breakfast specials and then move towards the rest of the course meals.

Breakfast Specials

1. The most eaten in any season– Idli and Dosa

This pair of food has gone along so well with the eaters that whenever a reference to south Indian food is made these two come forward to represent their other contenders. Just like cup – saucer, thread needle, or even Hansel – Gretel, this idli – dosa pair has been a true delicacy for any food lover. To put in variations nowadays, in the batter of idli and dosa, experts add oats, spinach, lentils, rava and vegetables to make it look more interesting and innovative.


2. Noolappam – a healthy rice delicacy

This appam, is one of the many famous other appams from the South. It has taken a leap since some years and found a place in the top rated hotels to be served to tourists for breakfasts as the reviews for the same dish were seriously appraised. Originating from both Kerala and Tamil Nadu, it comes in different sizes and shapes but basically similar to the rice noodles. (I prefer telling people it to be rice noodles, rather noolappam; pronunciation issues, you know.) You can serve  it with coconut milk, chicken curry, potato stew etc.


3. Appam – yet another addition to variety of appams.

Now, you ought to take it for granted that appam is the surname for all the South Indian dishes. This one comes from a different repertoire of delicacies in Kerala, exclusively. Similar to dosa in looks, but totally different in taste, this food is simply made with rice batter and yeast for fermentation (some even add a cap of rum or whisky, as it seems an easy available option!) and is a fast ‘made’ food, if I can say so. Yes, try this with egg or chicken curry, it’s a real treat.


4. The commoner’s – upama

This name might have struck to you every now and then you travel to South. Reason? It is a breakfast for the commoners. Even because it is the simplest of all the Southy delicacies. The name is  derived from uppu– salt and mavu– flour. Simply semolina flour with salt and water; mixed with veggies and boiled – Upama ready! (Also known as Uppittu, Uppindi, Upeet, and Rulanv in various parts of South India). It’s a loner, can be served alone too.


5. Obbattu – a sweet breakfast

This is well known by many Indians by the name of poran poli, but as a matter of fact this breakfast special has a place in the Karnataka kitchens by the name of Obbattu. Made with wheat flour, yellow gram mixed in jaggery, this food has been an extreme pleasure for sweet lovers. You can eat this along with ghee and milk. Some even have them with banana (personal choice).


6. Sundal– at peace with peas

Might be a new name for many, but this is a real easy-to-make, and light-in-stomach food originating from Tamil Nadu. This is preferred as a morning or evening snack and even is a famous street-food item in south. Cooking and soaking the chick peas and adding coconut milk and other required ingredients like onions and spices, this simple delicacy is a sure ‘on the list’.

Sundal Source

7. Mendu Vada

This is yet another people’s choice breakfast which is different from the rest mentioned. How? This is a fried item with a twist, no? I mean with a hole! Yes, the formation of the perfect shape of mendu vada with that visible hole in the middle is still a mystery for many non-south Indians (no offense to those who really can shape it up well). The udad dal and rice batter for this is tough to prepare, consumes time, but still the resultant vadas are yummmm… For a variation in it, it is even dipped wet in sweet dahi (yogurt) and served with sweet chutney called and is called dahi vada.

mendu vadaSource

8. Uthappam– a variety of dosa

Another appam to further extend the list of appams is Uthappam. This is fervor towards any south Indian dish. How? Uthappam has both dosa and idli in it. Again how? The same dosa batter can be used to make this. After a thick layer is spread out you can simply put onions, capsicums, tomatoes, and even cheese, paneer to North Indianofy it. Then tilt is back and forth on your non stick (the battleground for making correct, plain dosas). Your choice of toppings, your choice of Uthappam. ( You can sprinkle some oregano to have a pizza feel!)



The list won’t end here, but for now, the chosen ones are in front of you. Later for a good lunch. you can have:

Lunch Specials

9. Pulihora – a rice specialty

Pulihora is an Andhra special rice preparation made especially as a part of the main course meal. Other parts of South also consume this but in variety style. Pulihora has tamarind as the taste changer while others also make tomato rice, lemon rice, curd rice, vegetable rice, etc. It tastes really well with other curries, some of which I have discussed beneath or even simply curd or rasam.


10. Kuzhambu – a gravy special

This is a Tamilian specialty food, with tamarind, toor dal and udad daal gravy. Each state down South has its own way of making this trio combination with vegetables, yogurt, lentils, pumpkin, black pepper, garlic and ginger, brinjal, tomato, mango, lady’s finger, coconut and even gourds. Varying from taste to taste they have a plethora of varieties in kuzhambu. It has a proud place in the lunch arena with rotis or rice. 


11. Bisi-bele-bath

Yet another twist to a rice variety, this Kannada special hot lentil rice is traditionally prepared with the combination of lentils, asafetida, nutmegs, tamarind and curry leaves flavored with different spices as well as vegetables depending on personal choices. It has a special place in the restaurants being a regional favorite. Serving it with potato chips is the best combination.


12. Avial – a complete vegetable mix.

This food with its real tasty and easy-on-appetite contents has been able to mesmerize the taste buds of many being an important part of the Keralite sadya. (Sadya is the feast for Keralites including all the lunch items served on a banana leaf). Avial is different from other South Indian recipes because it has a thick mix of almost all the vegetables. It is made using plantain (raw banana), pumpkins, caroots, cucumber, brinjal, drumstick, gourds, peas, beans, elephant yam (sooran), as one mixture and and adding a gravy of mango pulp, dahi and tamarind juice/coconut milk. The food is so into the fame depth that there is a renowned music band from south named after Avial too. Like this food you will even love its music.



Dessert specials

13. Pradhaman – the baap of all kheers

Made in milk and coconut milk (some use milkmaid too), this classic dessert or rather called payasam, of Kerala has marked to a must-have after every Sadya. It is made of either daalrice cubes (ada), or rice threads (semiya) along with sugar or jaggery (preferred jaggery due to its ‘being healthy’ notion). It’s generally a Vishu or Onam special in any Kerala household.


14. Mysore Pak

Talking about desserts, how can the other South Indian states be left off? Mysore Pak is a world renowned sweet dish made in butter, gram flour (rice flour if needed) and ghee originating from the Famous Mysore Palace’s Kitchens. This luxurious sweet has been an important export product from India to various countries as well.

Mysore PakSource

15. Unni Appam / Neyyappam

Yeah, welcome another fellow from the appam family! Unni appams are quite a scrumptious snack cum dessert for you. It is a deep ghee fried mixture of rice flour, banana, jaggery and other spices as per needed (mostly cardamom and cumin crushed) made in a special vessel for the same. Looking at the photo itself you can definitely make out that if you have a South Indian friend, he/she might have served or offered you these anytime in the course of time passed!



I am sure that there are many not here on the list but still these are worthy enough to try to give yourself a treat. Also you might have realized that the greatest plus point of South Indian cuisines, which even you would agree to after reading this, is they consist of quite healthy, low fat, low cholesterol and high fibrous as well as protein rich diet. And also the art of making so many items just out of rice!

Do let me know if there are other South Indian delicacies which I am missing out on!

Written by Divya Krishnan