What are the healthiest South Indian dishes

Indian cuisine: a journey into the individual regions

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When you think of Indian cuisine, curry, dal and tandoori chicken immediately come to mind. But Indian cuisine has more to offer and is one of the most diverse in the world, characterized by its refined use of the many spices, vegetables, grains and fruits from all over India.

Therefore, it is almost impossible to lump Indian cuisine together. Because India is a country that has had to go through many changes in the course of its history. Conquerors, trading partners and the religious and cultural practices of its people shaped the cuisine of India - in Jainism, for example, it is forbidden to eat roots or underground vegetables.

Indian cuisine: the north

When people in Europe talk about Indian cuisine, they usually refer to North Indian cuisine. It is characterized by high milk consumption: milk, paneer (an Indian mild cheese), ghee (clarified butter) or yogurt are regularly used in dishes from northern India.

Dishes from clay ovens are typical of North Indian cuisine. These ovens, called tandoors, give dishes such as tandoori chicken or naan bread their unmistakable charcoal taste.

Not only naan bread and tandoori chicken are well-known dishes from northern India, but also paneer makhani, dal and samosas.

Show-off knowledge: More than every third Indian (38 percent) has a vegetarian diet. Israel (13) and Taiwan (12) follow a long way behind.

Indian cuisine: the east

East Indian cuisine is mostly for theirs Desserts known. These desserts are not only preferred by other regions of India, but have made their way all the way to us. A popular dish is, for example Rasgulla: Balls made from semolina and cheese curd cooked in sugar syrup. Main ingredients of this kitchen are above all Rice, fish and vegetables, which are often used in the classic “Suktos” vegetable curry. These curries are seasoned with mustard seeds, poppy seeds and mustard oil, which gives the dishes a slight spiciness.

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Indian cuisine: the south

The South Indian cuisine is mainly characterized by the use of rice. Rice is not only eaten with curries and dals, but also fried dishes are prepared with rice milk. An example of this is dosa: a rice milk pancake that is usually filled with vegetables, chutneys, or masala curries.

The cuisine of South India is very different from the rest of Indian cuisine and is therefore also rather unknown. While curries usually have a watery to creamy consistency, they resemble a paste in southern India.

There are many different interpretations of curries, but they all have one thing in common: the curry spice mixture. This one impresses with lots of fresh vegetables, coconut milk and chickpeas. Photo: SevenCooks

Traditional cuisine in the region divides foods into six flavors to be used in every main meal to make one Ensure complete nutrition, minimize cravings, and stimulate appetite and digestion.

The flavors:

  • Sweet: milk, butter, sweet cream, wheat, ghee, rice, honey
  • Sour: citrus fruits, yogurt, mango, tamarind
  • Salty: salt
  • Bitter: vegetables, turmeric, fenugreek
  • Hot: chilli peppers, ginger, black pepper, clove, mustard
  • Astringent (protein): beans, lentils, turmeric, vegetables like cauliflower and cabbage, coriander

Indian cuisine: the west

Characterized by the size of the area, West Indian cuisine can be divided into three main regions: Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa.

fish and Coconut milk dominate the cuisine of Maharashtra. Gujarati cuisine is mostly vegetarian and, due to the Chinese influence, sweeter than in the rest of India. The region is also known for its chutneys.

Goa once functioned as a major trading port and was a Portuguese colony, resulting in a distinctive and unique mix of Indian and Portuguese elements. Vinegar is also a signature ingredient in Goan cuisine, another result of the Portuguese influence.

The most popular Indian dishes

Thali

A thali is not directly a single dish, but rather the combination of different small dishes and roughly comparable to the Spanish tapas. A thali is usually served on a round tray or banana leaf on which a selection of different dishes is served in small bowls. The dishes may vary depending on the region.

Dal

Dal is considered an unofficial national dish in India, as it is eaten in any form almost every day. A dal is a thin lentil curry and is used as a source of protein and poor people's food. Rice and vegetables are typically served with the dal, but this varies greatly from region to region. Usually a dal is also part of a thali.

Our spinach dal is a simple and quick to prepare dish that combines legumes and spinach. Photo: SevenCooks

curry

Depending on where you order a curry, you will always get a different dish that will probably not taste the same in all of India. Because, contrary to what many believe, curry is not a dish, just a mixture of spices that is used to flavor a dish. You will also rarely find the term curry in India. The main components of the dish are usually mentioned there. The basis of a curry paste consists of: Turmeric, cumin, coriander, ginger and fresh or dried chilli.

Chili, ginger and garlic make this vegetable curry really hot. Photo: SevenCooks

Naan bread

Naan bread is one of the staple foods in Indian cuisine and means “leavened bread”. Traditionally, a naan consists of yeast, flour, sugar and water as well as yoghurt and ghee and is prepared in a tandoori, which gives it its typical smoky taste.

In India, naan bread is usually the filling side dish and is served with various dishes. Photo: Wolfgang Schardt

Samosa

A samosa is a traditionally fried snack made from batter that is deep-fried with a hearty filling. The usual filling consists of potatoes, lentils, peas or minced meat and onions. Samosas are usually accompanied with mint and tamarind chutneys.

Our samosas are filled with cauliflower rice and spread oriental flavors. Photo: SevenCooks

The most popular Indian ingredients

Red lenses

Lentils are one of the staple foods in India - and red lentils in particular. They are the basis for various curries and the main ingredient for the unofficial national dish Dal. But not only the red lentils are popular: More than 50 different varieties are grown in India - with an annual yield of more than 1.2 million tons.

One of the main ingredients for curry: red lentils. Photo: ulleo (pixabay)

Potatoes

For a long time there were no potatoes in India. It was not until the 16th century that the Portuguese brought the tubers with them during colonial rule to feed the western conquerors. The potato quickly spread across the entire subcontinent and is one of the most popular ingredients today.

The perfect ingredient for feeling full: potatoes. Photo: SevenCooks

Chickpeas

No other country in the world has as many vegetarians as India. More than one in three Indian states that they do not eat meat and fish. In order to get the daily dose of protein, many legumes are processed in Indian cuisine - such as the chickpea. India is also the country that has the highest per capita consumption of chickpeas and is also by far the largest producer of chickpeas. In 2017 India produced 61.4 percent the world harvest.

A great source of protein: chickpeas. Photo: SevenCooks

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Cover picture: SevenCooks