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Food & Beverages

7 Most Famous Foods in South India

By Aniket

Updated - May 17, 20244 min read

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South India, a region known for its rich cultural heritage, also boasts a diverse and vibrant culinary landscape. From crispy dosas to the rich flavors of biryani, South Indian cuisine is a treat for the senses. Here’s a journey through seven of the most famous foods in South India that you must try.

1. Dosa

Origin: Tamil Nadu
Main Ingredients: Rice, Black Gram Beans, Fenugreek Seeds


Dosa is perhaps the most iconic dish from South India. This thin, crispy pancake is made from a fermented batter of rice and black gram beans, enhanced with fenugreek seeds for flavor and color. Typically served with coconut chutney and sambar (a lentil-based vegetable stew), dosas come in various forms. Masala dosa, stuffed with spiced potato filling, is particularly popular.

Must-Try Places:

  • Central Tiffin Room (Bangalore)
  • Hotel Saravana Bhavan (Chennai)
  • Mavalli Tiffin Rooms (Bangalore)



2. Idli

Origin: Karnataka
Main Ingredients: Rice, Black Gram Beans

Idli is a steamed rice cake that is soft, fluffy, and easy to digest, making it a popular breakfast item. The batter, made from fermented rice and black gram beans, is poured into molds and steamed until cooked. Idlis are usually served with coconut chutney and sambar. Their simplicity and nutritional value make them a favorite among health-conscious individuals.

Must-Try Places:

  • Murugan Idli Shop (Chennai)
  • Brahmin’s Coffee Bar (Bangalore)



3. Biryani

Origin: Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh
Main Ingredients: Basmati Rice, Meat (Chicken, Mutton), Spices


South Indian biryani, particularly the Hyderabadi and Tamil Nadu versions, is a feast for the senses. Made with aromatic basmati rice, tender meat, and a blend of spices, this dish is cooked slowly to infuse all the flavors. Hyderabad's biryani is known for its unique blend of spices and the use of saffron, while the Tamil Nadu version often includes a boiled egg and is slightly spicier.

Must-Try Places:

  • Paradise Biryani (Hyderabad)
  • Dindigul Thalappakatti (Chennai)



4. Sambar

Origin: Tamil Nadu
Main Ingredients: Toor Dal, Tamarind, Vegetables, Spices


Sambar is a staple in South Indian cuisine, often enjoyed with rice, idli, dosa, and vada. This tangy and spicy lentil soup is made with toor dal (pigeon pea lentils), tamarind for a sour note, and a variety of vegetables. It’s flavored with a unique blend of spices and typically garnished with curry leaves and mustard seeds. Sambar’s versatility and robust flavors make it an essential part of South Indian meals.

Must-Try Places:

  • Dakshin (Chennai)
  • MTR (Bangalore)


5. Vada

Origin: Tamil Nadu
Main Ingredients: Urad Dal, Spices


Image Courtesy: myfoodstory

Vada, a savory fried snack, is made from a batter of urad dal (black gram beans) and spices. The batter is shaped into doughnut-like rounds and deep-fried until golden brown and crispy. Vadas are often served with sambar and coconut chutney. They are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, making them a beloved breakfast item or snack.

Must-Try Places:

  • Adyar Ananda Bhavan (Chennai)
  • CTR (Bangalore)


6. Appam

Origin: Kerala
Main Ingredients: Rice Flour, Coconut Milk


Appam is a soft, bowl-shaped pancake made from a fermented batter of rice flour and coconut milk. It's characterized by a crispy edge and a soft, fluffy center. Appams are traditionally served with a variety of accompaniments, such as stew (vegetarian or meat), coconut milk curry, or simply with sweetened coconut milk. This dish is particularly popular in Kerala and among the Nasrani community.

Must-Try Places:

  • Karavalli (Bangalore)
  • Kappa Chakka Kandhari (Chennai)



7. Mysore Pak

Origin: Karnataka
Main Ingredients: Gram Flour, Ghee, Sugar

Mysore Pak is a rich, melt-in-the-mouth sweet that originated from the royal kitchens of Mysore. Made from gram flour, ghee, and sugar, this dessert has a crumbly texture and a heavenly taste. It’s often prepared during festivals and special occasions and is known as the "king of sweets" in South India.

Must-Try Places:

  • Sri Krishna Sweets (Mysore)
  • Guru Sweet Mart (Mysore)