21 Must Try Foods of Southern India

Discover 21 must try foods of Southern India. Indian food is famous all over the world. Probably as much as Chinese food. In fact, I’m pretty sure curry is a national dish of England, and while it may not be the same as a traditional Indian curry, it would have definitely stemmed from it.

Not all of the following are necessarily foods unique to Southern India, but they are a selection of foods I ate while traveling through Southern India.

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21 Must Try Foods of Southern India

1. Kerala Poratta

The first item on this list of foods of Southern India is Kerela Poratta.

I have a feeling that Poratta is all over India (a 99.999999% sure feeling) but this is Korela Poratta. Not sure what the difference is between this and plain.

Lots of other different breads which I have with other meals but dont give each one their own listing. There is too many and they are all delicious!

Foods of Southern India - Kerala Poratta - Survive Travel

Kerala Poratta.

2. Oothaappam

Onion and tomato on Indian bread, with a side of vegetarian curry.

Foods of Southern India - Oothaappam - Survive Travel

Oothaappam. Simple and delicious.

3. Lassi

A yogurt type drink that comes in a range of flavors. Obviously I got mango cause I love it.

Foods of Southern India - Mango Lassi - Survive Travel

Mango flavoured Lassi, a yoghurt based drink.

4. Biryani

Biryani is one of the more well known foods of Southern India. Probably because it tastes awesome. I ate it a lot during my time in India.

Beef Biryani from a food stall inside the mall. With the drink (lime juice) cost was 200IDR.

Foods of Southern India - Beef Biryani - Survive Travel

Underneath that rice is an explosion of meat and flavors.

5. Tandori Chicken Noodles

Fried noodles is more or less the same where-ever you go. Each country has their own little twist. This was pretty damn good. Not oily (unlike Malaysia), and not too salty (unlike the Philippines.) Maybe it would be a little spicy for some. It was just on the edge for me, but I was very happy with it.

Foods of Southern India - Tandori Chicken Noodles - Survive Travel

Chao Mian with tandoori chicken… amazing!

6. Kurma

I saw a sign that said “Today’s Special, Carrot Kurma and Banana Kurma”, so I got one of each.

They are sweet. Pretty much like carrot or banana cake depending on the flavor you get.

Foods of Southern India - Kurma - Survive Travel

Unexpectedly sweet.

7. Samosa

A classic Indian snack.

Foods of Southern India - Samosa- Survive Travel

Samosa’s in India are not the triangle shape I am used to, but they taste fantastic.

8. Dosai

This particular one is Butter Masala Dosai. I got it because I knew I had to catch the overnight bus that night (from Madurai to Pondicherry) and I figured it would not be spicy, i.e., I didn’t want my stomach playing funny buggers on me during the bus ride. I was wrong, it was spicy, because everything in India is spicy. Luckily my stomach was fine.

Foods of Southern India - Butter Masala Dosai 65 - Survive Travel

Hotter than I expected it to be. Pretty good though.

9. Jigarthanda

Whilst eating my Dosai I noticed some other customers drinking this drink, which looked nice so I got one. It was very good. Kind of like caramel. Afterwards I started seeing them for sale everywhere.

This one, from an air-conditioned restaurant, cost 50INR, but on the street they were as low as 20INR.

Foods of Southern India - Jigarthanda 50 - Survive Travel

Jigarthanda plays a little bit of awesomeness on your tastebus.

10. Dum Briyani

Number 10 on this list of foods of Southern India is Dum Briyani.

I’ve put this separate from the Briyani because it is Dum Biryani. The difference being in the way it is cooked. According to Alps Mo’s answer in Quora

“In a normal Chicken Biryani, the meat is separately fried and added whereas in dum biryani the entire rice,meat, potatoes cooked by the steam and pressure. Thus Fried chicken biryani will be more oily and spicy, and dum will be more flavourful .”

Foods of Southern India - Chicken Dum Briyani - Survive Travel

Chicken Dum Biryani.

11. Fried Rice

Another classic Chinese dish made with the Indian way. I liked it.

Awesome Sri Lanka Foods - Fried Rice

12. Chicken Gravy

This is one of those times where I saw what someone else was eating, pinted at it and said “give me that”. The guy serving told me it was chicken gravy (i.e. chicken in gravy). I am sure it has a special Indian name. Whatever it is called, it was amazing.

Foods of Southern India - Chicken Gravy - Survive Travel

Chicken gravy. This was one of my favorites.

13. Ginger Drinks

All over southern India, from Kerala to Chennai, I saw signs for fresh ginger juice, soda, etc. This one pictured is obviously bought from a shop. I did try the fresh made ones also. Very good, but (not surprisingly) very gingery.

Foods of Southern India - Ginger Lemon Drink - Survive Travel

Not surprisingly, very gingery.

14. Mushroom Manjurian

I had no idea what this was going to be when I ordered it, apart from having mushrooms, but I was very happy with it. Absolutely amazing. Also comes in different “flavors”, i.e., replace the word mushroom with a different main ingredient.

Foods of Southern India - Mushroom Manjurian - Survive Travel

Possibly my favorite on this list.

15. Mattar Mushroom

This is similar to the Mushroom Manjurian, and you can get different versions of it also, i.e., not mushroom. Personally I like the Manjurian better but this was still pretty good.

The bread I have here is kuboos.

Foods of Southern India - Mattar Mushroom and Kuboos - Survive Travel

Mushrooms are one of my favorite foods, although I used to really dislike them as a child.

16. Nanari Juice

I have no idea what Nanari is but it tasted pretty good. Maybe is is kind of like honey.

Foods of Southern India - Nanari juice - Survive Travel

I have no idea what Nanari is, but the taste was acceptable.

17. Appachi Special Parotta

Anything menu item that has the word special in it I tend to get drawn to. I thought Appachi might have been the name of a local dialect or something, and maybe this dish was their own take on Parotta. As it turns out Appachi was just the name of the restaurant, but the meal was pretty special. They kind of just piled everything onto it. The parotta underneath was crispy. This was a good meal.

Foods of Southern India - Appachi Special Parotta - Survive Travel

When I ordered this I was worried it wasn’t going to be enough. I was wrong about that.

18. South Indian Meals

I had seen “Indian Meals” on many menus but that was all they said. No description of what types of meals where available. One day, in Mamallapuram, I tried to order something off a menu but they said the only thing available was South Indian Meals, so I said okay. Before I could ask what the choices where the waiter was gone.

As it turns out the “s” on the end of “meals” is just a grammatical error that all Indian restaurants (at least all the ones that I have been to) make, unless the different sauces/curries that comes with the rice are each considered a separate meal, which actually sounds pretty plausible.

Foods of Southern India - South Indian Meals - Survive Travel

South Indian Meals.

19. Alu Gobi

As I was eating this I distinctly remember thinking, “wow, I haven’t eaten cauliflower in a really long time, but it tastes great!”. This meal tasted amazing.

Foods of Southern India - Alu Gobi Masala - Survive Travel

Someone told me Gobi was cheese. I guess his English was off-mark. Gobi is cauliflower.

For the next two days after this I had bad stomach cramps and put myself on a modified BRAT diet (bananas, rice, apple sauce and toast). I don’t blame this one meal. I think the onslaught of Indian spices that I had been eating every day finally conquered my stomach. It needed a couple of days off.

20. Gobi 65

The second last item on this list of foods of Southern India is Gobu 65.

After my medical in Sri Ramachandra I decided to do a full day fast before getting back on the Indian food. I also started myself on a new “meal plan”.

I had seen this “65” dish in many places (chicken, gobi, etc.) so decided to try it out. Turns out is Cauliflower (assuming you get Gobi) coated in some type of red breadcrumbs and then deep fried.

Foods of Southern India - Gobi 65 - Survive Travel

From mushroom to cauliflower.

21. Mushroom Fry

Another dish that I commonly saw was “Fry” which , like the 65, could be chicken, gobi, etc. This was a tad on the spicy side but pretty nice. A bit oily though.

Foods of Southern India - Mushroom Fry - Survive Travel

and then back to mushrooms.

Mushroom fry was the last of the Indian foods I tried. I wanted to give myself at least 24 hours of “plain foods” before having to move on.

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I enjoyed trying the different foods of Southern India, even though my stomach couldn’t handle it after a while. Maybe it’s a little too flavoursome for me.

One thing I really enjoyed was that it was very vegetarian friendly. And their breads are just amazing. Eating with my hands got some getting used to but by the end of it I found it kind of fun, although I still prefer cutlery or chopsticks.

Did you enjoy this list of Southern Indian foods? If so, please share it with your friends.

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