The Flavor of South Indian Food: 5 Iconic Dishes You Need to Try

Food brings people together, so it’s understandable why tourists are eager to try foods from local areas they visit so that they can get a sense of what the cuisine is like. Not very many people are aware of the flavors of South Indian food, so they have no idea what they’re missing out on.

So what’s really stopping you from giving this wonderful cuisine a try? You might be surprise by how flavorful it is, how easy it is to make, and how much you’ll want to eat it day after day when you have that craving for more. Here are the five iconic South Indian dishes you’ll fall head over heels for.


Thali is one of those dishes that gives you a little of everything. It’s like a mini-buffet just for you. Thali provides you with a variety of different dishes on one plate, consisting of rice, curry dishes, yogurt, and veggie dishes to keep your palate excited.

Rice is the central aspect of the dish, with the different curries added to it on your plate. Keep in mind that thali is traditionally eaten with your fingers, so don’t expect any utensils. You started off with eating the vegetables on your plate, then you move to the sambhar (lentil-based sauce), vathal kozhambu (chili and tamarind sauce), rasam (spicy tomato sauce), and you finish with the yogurt to cool down all of the heat and to aid with digestion.


Briyani is another popular South Indian food that consists of prepared rice and different layers of seasonings, vegetables, or meat. There are even variations that are served with lamb or seafood. Raita, which is a type of yogurt, is also usually provided with briyani, which goes well with the heat of the seasoned meat and/or vegetables.


If you’re looking for something a little different, you can always try upma. It is a rice porridge that has been seasoned with onions and chili peppers for a thick, spicy dish that will stick with you all day. It’s usually served hot and for breakfast. Spicy may not be considered as an ideal way to start the day, but you’ll definitely be more awake after having this meal.


If you’re looking for something with a little less sauce, then you might want to give uttapam a try. It’s a flattened pancake made with rice and lentils batter, and then mixed with different vegetables for a unique flavor. Think of it like a different kind of pizza, only much tastier. It is usually served with sambar or chutney that you dip your piece of uttapam into.


Southern Indian food uses a lot of rice and lentils in their dishes, and idli is no different. It is a spongy cake made from lentils and rice, and is usually served with a variety of sauces, including chutney or sambhar. Sometimes it’s served with ghee, which is clarified butter. This is another popular breakfast item, but it can also be eaten as a snack.

It’s always a good idea to expand your palate, especially if you’re near the South Indian area. Their cuisine is rich and full of flavor, filled with spices that are actually good for your digestion. Be sure to give it a try the next time you’re jet-setting around the world.