South Indian Food:

South Indian Cuisine

Southern India, where the cultural and linguistic the native Dravidians is still apparent, has developed distinct culinary traditions after thousands of years of culture. South Indian cuisine has also been influenced by the climate of the region, as well as geography and coastal influences.

The hot climate makes hot and spicy foods very popular. Rice is the foundation of most meals, complemented by dal, pulses, or lentils, and South Indian cuisine is well known for its superb and often extravagant rice dishes. South Indian cuisine differs from other regions in several ways, with their dals and curries tending to be more soupy, and a much more common use of coconut milk appears in cooking. Meals served in the traditional style are presented on banana leaves, in a particular pattern of presentation.

In addition to coconut milk, there are many flavors that make up South Indian style of cuisine. The coastal areas contribute the fish and prawns that are an important part of the diet in the state of Andrah. These dishes tend to be seasoned with a lighter hand, making use of sesame and coconut oils, black pepper, cumin, turmeric, coriander, ground hot pepper, and a garam masala, which is a spice mixture that varies from region to region and even from family to family. A typical South Indian garam masala will include fenugreek, cumin, fennel, cardamom, turmeric, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper.

Beyond the more mildly spiced fish and prawn dishes of Andrah, many dishes make liberal use of chili peepers of various types.

Certain southern areas feel the influence of other cultures as well.

Muslim culinary influence is especially prominent in the Hyderabad area, and some of India's most luxurious and well known rice dishes, such as biryani, hail from this area.

From the Tamil Nadu area comes a broad variety of vegetarian cuisine, in which the flavors of onion, fresh ginger root, and grated coconut, as well as a variety of the usual Indian spices, offer a strong taste experience. Among these spices are garam masala, turmeric, black and green cardamom, cassia tree bark, cumin, coriander, sweet bay or laurel leaves, cloves, nutmeg, black and yellow mustard seeds, fennel, fenugreek, saffron, asafetida, curry leaves, tamarind, fresh cilantro leaves, and fresh mint.

The food of Kerla features, among the standard delectable assortment of curries and spiced dals, a variety of dumplings, pancakes, and steamed cakes made of rice flour.

Pickled vegetables and fruits are an important complement to the cuisine of South India. This has to do with the hot climate, which required the use of pickling to preserve food. Most South Indian afternoon and evening meals include one or more varieties of pickle. Among international favorites is the mango pickle, spicy hot but with a hint of sweetness.

South Indian cuisine offers a wide variety of taste experience of Indian subcontinent, from its coastal regions to tropical areas. The ingredients and spices, and how they are used, reflect the wide variety of cultural influences that India has assimilated over the centuries.

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