25 South Indian Food & Dishes That Are World Famous

Vidhi Verma
Nov 17, 2020 8 min read

South Indian food is widely known for its unique flavour, taste, essence and the touch of the handmade love added to it! With its diversity within the food items, some of the south Indian dishes have captured our hearts and melted our mouths!

If you are a foodie, you simply must try these, and if you already have, I’m sure you will agree with me when I say, it’s the food of heaven. They are not just a delight to the eyes, but also very good for your health, nutrition and digestibility wise. 

With the divine taste of the mixed species, curries, and vegetables here comes to you a list of the best south Indian dishes that you’ll crave for once you have tasted them. These are world-famous for a reason!  

Presenting you the list of South Indian food that you’ll love:

1. Idli

Idli is a traditional, savory south Indian dish that is a popular breakfast item in numerous South Indian households, although it can be found throughout the country. It is made with a batter consisting of fermented lentils and rice, which is then steamed.

These are commonly served hot and consumed on their own, dipped into sambar or chutneys, or seasoned with numerous spices. With its huge popularity in India, there are also many other types of idlis, such as rava idli, which uses semolina instead of rice in the batter, or malli idli, which are idlis fried with curry leaves and coriander.

2. Sambhar

Sambar is a popular South Indian curry dish prepared with a tamarind-based broth, lentils, and vegetables. It originates from Tamil Nadu, but it is also very popular in Sri Lanka and throughout South India. The dish is traditionally served with steamed rice or Idlis.

Sambhar has almost 200 types, you never know which one you like until you try them all, it’s mostly a mix and match of vegetables and spices that make a new variety of sambhar altogether.

3. Masala Dosa

Ready-made dosa batter is something one can find in all shops and supermarkets today but is the traditional way that tough to figure out? 

Absolutely not! It is made with soaked rice and black gram beans, which are ground into a paste and mixed to create a thick batter, usually left to ferment overnight. The mixture is enriched with a handful of fenugreek seeds, which give dosa its distinctive golden brown colour and a delicious, crispy texture. It is one of the most ancient south Indian food.

However masala dosa is a very famous type of dosa that includes stuffed masala made out of a mix of mainly boiled and mashed potatoes and chopped onions, one cannot imagine the world of a difference these vegetables can make, changing a normal dosa into the most delighted Masala dosa. 

4. Vada

Vada is a fried dish usually eaten in breakfast, it has various types namely Medu vada, masala vada, and keerai vada. They are usually served with coconut chutney or sambhar. It is one of the most widely eaten and loved south Indian dishes. Medu vadas are soft doughnut-shaped vadas deep-fried in oil. Masala vada is much more famous and widely consumed. They are made out of toor dal. Keerai vada, however, is well known to be nutritious and found on the tea stalls. It has vegetables too and is made out of chana dal. 

5. Appam with Tanga Pal/Kurma

Appam is a famous south Indian dish made up of fermented rice batter. It is known to be originated in Kerala. It is preferred in breakfast and in dinner which can be served Tanga pal that is coconut milk or kurma that is curry. Coconut is the essence of this dish, making it a famous and mouth-watering dish.

6. Puttu

Puttu is again a south Indian dish originated from Kerala. It is usually taken as breakfast and is super healthy! It has a unique taste and texture because of the special container it is steamed in. Ready-made puttu steamers are now available in the stores. It can be made in a cup or cylindrical shape depending upon the container used. Making the puttu however, is an art. The key is to loosely stuff the batter into the steamer so as to allow the air to pass through it making it soft and fluffy and bringing out the exotic nature of its own. It can be served with sweet or curry depending upon the taste you’re looking for. Once you have tried it, I’m sure you will love it!

7. Pesarattu

The origin of this wonderful and healthy dish is from Andhra Pradesh. It is basically a green moong dosa. The batter includes rice for their crispy nature, ginger, chillies, onions, and one can add more vegetables for a different taste. This recipe is an extension of Rava dosa, making it fancier and healthier for all.

8. Rasam Rice

If you ever visit any south Indian famous food places, you must, I emphasize you must try this. It is not a fancy dish but the simplicity of this touches hearts. It is excellent for digestion and can be consumed for lunch or dinner. Rasam is a soup-like watery curry that has a mixed taste of unique salt and spices. In one word, it is magic if you try it from a good place. 

9. Bisi Bele Bhath

Bisi Bele Bhath is a traditional spicy South Indian dish from Karnataka made out of rice. It is much similar to the sambhar rice made in Tamil Nadu. It is a one-dish meal that is made by adding a lot of vegetables, dal, and rice together and cooking to its perfection. It is served with hot ghee on top, fried papad, and raita. 

10. Puliyogare

It is known as Tamarind rice in most places but calling it so would be an injustice to all the other significant flavours it contains. Tamarind, however, is the main ingredient of this dish. It is one of the most soul-filling south Indian dishes you’ll ever taste. The classic Puliyogare is spicy yet tangy and it tastes better a few hours after its cooked. This might well be why it is a standard offering at many temples and why it’s always been a preferred option for road trips.

11. Pazham Pori

Kerala’s efforts in the culinary fields have given us the most perfect and delicious snack of it all. A simple yet unmatched snack that is crispy, soft, sweet- an outburst of flavours. Kerala's food is popular for making use of local fruits and vegetables like banana and jackfruit, and ingredients such as coconut oil; and the varied cooking techniques that truly sets this cuisine apart. You can find a range of hearty and wholesome mains in God's own country.

12. Paniyaram

South Indian delights can be savored at any time of the day. When it comes to snacks, paniyaram, also known as paddu or appe, is popular across various southern states. Paniyaram is made using the same batter as that of dosa-idli, but a specific pan is required to mold it into perfect roundels.

13. Vatha Kuzhambu

Vatha Kuzhambu is a traditional kuzhambu (which means curry) variety. It is delicious and spicy gravy. Fresh Peppercorns brings out a nice flavor to the kuzhambu. This is one of the main dishes served on many Tamil marriage occasions. we use to add fried manathakali vathal which is called Black nightshade in English. but you can also add sundakkai instead. Vathakuzhambu with sutta appalam and any fried poriyal is the best combo.

14. Pesarapappu Payasam

It is a popular sweet delicacy south Indian style of kheer recipe made with moong dal and coconut milk. it is a traditional dessert recipe made especially for celebration feast or for the festival like Makara Sankranti. It is a healthy Indian sweet as the sweetness is derived from coconut milk and jaggery which makes it rich and creamy.

15. Uttapam

Uttapam is a well-known breakfast recipe from south Indian cuisine prepared using the same mix that is used for idli and dosa. However, unlike dosa, uttapam is much thicker and smaller than normal dosa. You can specialize in your own custom uttapam by adding on top the vegetables you like. It hardly takes any time and is one of the easiest and simplest south Indian dishes for breakfast.

16. Rava Idli

Rava idli is a type of idli but much healthier. It is generally made out of the batter that has dal and some vegetables in it. Easy, quick, and delicious Rava idli hardly takes much of your time. Nowadays we can find ready-to-use batter mixes for Rava idli making the process much much simpler.

17. Onion Rava Dosa

Onion Rava dosa is another healthier type of dosa however this south Indian breakfast item is a quick-fix dosa that feels special! It does not require grinding or fermentation but tastes awesome. The dosas are much tasty and crisp. The onions to contribute to the crunch!

18. Adirasam

This is one of the most famous South India sweet, prepared for the special occasion Diwali and Janmashtami. All love this Adirasam sweet, it’s one of the most kids’ favourite. It’s a rich, sumptuous, mouth-watering delicacy. It contains high calorie and protein. This brings out the joy of each occasion.

19. Vangi Bath

Vangi bath, brinjal (eggplant) is treated with spices and cooked directly on the flame in barbeque style, or on charcoal. It is often served with Raitha (mix of curd and vegetables such as onions, cucumber, or tomato). Vangi Bath mix is readily available in supermarkets and grocery stores, using which it is possible to prepare Vangi Bath on our own! 

20. Chicken 65

When you see this, your mind would definitely go yammy-yammy. Well, it should! Chicken 65 is a very popular south Indian dish that has stolen hearts. There are many versions of Chicken 65 and each having its own unique taste. The secret to making the best Chicken 65 is to marinate the chicken well. After frying the chicken, toss it in the yoghurt sauce, just before serving. 

21. Hyderabadi Biryani

Hyderabadi biryani is a South Indian dish consisting of basmati rice, goat, mutton, or chicken meat, lemon, yoghurt, onions, and saffron. There are two main varieties of the dish – kachchi (raw) and pakki (cooked). It is said that Hyderabadi biryani's richness of flavour is due to the unique process of cooking raw rice and raw meat together with exotic spices, unlike other places where meat and rice are cooked separately.

The special cooking style, known as dum, is believed to have come from Persia during the Mughals' regime in India.

22. Gongkura

Gongkura greens are edible Sorrel leaves most popularly used in South Indian Cuisine especially in the states of Andra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu in India. It has a distinctive tangy taste and is one of the main ingredients of Andhra Cuisine. It is a wonderful source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. 

23. Mysore Bonda

Mysore Bonda is a traditional and delicious evening snack served in most of the restaurants in Tamil Nadu / Karnataka.  Usually, Bondas are made using vegetables like potatoes, but Mysore Bonda is very light and made just using flour.  This tasty bonda can be served along with coconut chutney.

24. Upma

A very popular savoury south Indian breakfast dish made using semolina, spices, and herbs. It is a super easy 15 minutes recipe that is crazy delicious and a healthy meal in itself. The best part is that you can add the vegetables according to your preferences, eat it as a snack, breakfast, or even dinner!

25. Pongal

This porridge-like savoury South Indian dish is laced with cumin and black pepper mainly. Not to forget the lovely aroma of ghee, which is used for tempering these spices. The simplest version of ven Pongal will have these spices as well as curry leaves and ginger. There are many variations possible. At times grated coconut is also added. You could even add some chopped veggies to make a mix veg Pongal. 

The most perfect ideology in this world, as someone wise once said, ‘The way to the heart goes through the stomach’. Are you tempted to try these delicious, wonderful, healthy, and world-famous south Indian dishes? You are on the right track. 

Some of these South Indian dishes are easy and simple to make at home and will keep you fit as a fiddle. You can try to make these at home or whenever you plan to eat at a south Indian restaurant, don’t forget to try these amazing and mouth-watering dishes.

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