The Differences Between North & South Indian Food
Food is a central part of Indian culture and growing up with both Northern and Southern heritage I have a fair understanding of the differences.
India is a microcosm of many different styles of cuisine. Through time, food has evolved to the point that specific regions have their speciality.
It would take a large book to cover the intricacies of Indian cuisine because it’s not as simple as labeling food North or South. The East and West also have distinct differences but for the purposes of this post we will focus on North and South because they are most synonymous with what most are familiar with in the United States.
If you’ve ever been to an Indian Restaurant then you’re probably familiar with dishes like dal, rasam, sambhar, butter chicken, samosa, pakora, naan, roti, saag paneer, idli, and dosa to name a few.
We can agree that these dishes are delicious, but let’s take a deeper dive into the nuances of each region.
North Indian Food
Many of the restaurants that the western world has been exposed to has been from the North. I've listed some of the prominent dishes below.
Naan bread, Roti, Chana Masala, Palak Paneer, Matar Paneer, Samosa, Tandoori Chicken, Butter Chicken, Dal Makhani, Biryani
South Indian Food
Although South Indian food is not as popular as the north, it’s gaining more notoriety with its appeal with the vegan and vegetarian community. The food is heavy with rice, lentils and coconut. See some examples of below.
Dosa, Idli, Sambhhar, Vada, Rasam, Thali, Appam, Kichadi, Adai, Bajji
Starches - Wheat is ubiquitous in the North due to climate. Roti, naan, poori, chapati and other starches that contain wheat are from the North.
Curries/Sauces - Butter, ghee and milk are used commonly in North Indian dishes. Dairy is used in many sauces as a thickening agent and is excellent to scoop up rich and decedent curries.
Spice Factor - Mild to moderate, although restaurants tailor spice tolerance to customers taste.
Influences - Mughlai and Persian ingredients are represented in many Northern Indian dishes today.
Starches - The tropical climate of the South is conducive for rice production. Idli and Dosa to name a few are made from rice as a main ingredient and lentils as a binding agent.
Curries/Sauces - Since the climate is more tropical than the North, South Indians have used coconut as the centerpiece in many curries.
Spice factor - Usually more spicier, although restaurants tailor spice tolerance to customers taste.
Influences - Much of what we know about South Indian cuisine has come from the Portuguese - most notably the coconut and many curries.
It’s impossible to use a broad brush and paint all the different types delicious food India has to offer, but this article gives you a better understanding.
At Bharat Bazar, we carry all the ingredients necessary to make great North or South Indian dishes. So swing by one of our locations in Fremont, Sunnyvale, or Union City and wander the aisles to find all the ingredients you need for your next feast.
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Blogger @Bharat Bazar