5. Banana chips: crisps with a twist
Roadside stalls frying up and selling packs of bright yellow crispy banana slices are a common sight. Banana chips are a popular snack in South India. Thin circular slivers of banana are deep-fried, usually in coconut oil. Sometimes they’re coated in jaggery. Salty with a mild coconut flavour, these crisps are a good teatime snack.
Banana chips freshly made by Sherry J. Ezhuthachan via Flickr (CC license)
6. Malabar parotta with Kerala-style beef: flat bread and spicy beef
Tiring of vegetarian fare? Indulge in some fiery Keralan meats. Parottas are flaky, layered flatbreads made of flour. Eat these with a Kerala-style dry beef fry (erachi varattiyathu) – an incredibly spicy and delicious dish of beef chunks cooked with ground spices, black pepper, coconut and chillies.
Parotta preparation by Motographer via Flickr (CC license)
7. Appams and ishtu: pancakes and stew
Appams are like thin crepes, made from a batter of fermented rice flour and coconut milk. Soft, light and fluffy, they go best with ishtu – a fresh coconut milk-infused stew of veggies, shallots, mild spices and meat of your choice. Mutton, chicken and vegetable stews are the common options.
Appams and fish curry by Pankaj Kaushal via Flickr (CC license)
8. Kaapi: filter coffee
There’s nothing quite like a steaming tumbler of South Indian filter coffee to kick start your morning. Coffee connoisseurs will concede that nowhere else in India does kaapi like the south.
Beans from southern Indian coffee-growing regions such as the Nilgiris, Malabar and the hills of Karnataka are roasted, ground and sometimes blended with chicory.
The coffee is then brewed in a steel filter, mixed with hot milk and poured vigorously between two tumblers from a great height to create a frothy strong brew, served in a stainless steel glass.
Kaapi by Kamakshi Sachidanandam via Flickr (CC license)
9. Biryani: something like pilaf
The ubiquitous biryani is found in different forms all over India, changing in flavour and preparation style according to regional influences.
Biryani is essentially a dish of rice cooked with meat, veggies and spices such as turmeric, cardamom, bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves, and pepper; sometimes garnished with cashews, raisins and caramelized onions. It can be vegetarian or have meats such as chicken, mutton or beef.
While there is no single South Indian-style biryani, you’ll find different varieties such as Hyderabadi dum biryani, Kerala-style Malabar or Thalassery biryani, the coastal Karnataka variant of Bhatkali biryani, Tamil Nadu’s Dinidgul biryani and so on.
Chicken Biryani by cell105 via Flickr (CC license)
10. Payasam: milky pudding
A milky, sugary rice pudding, payasam is a dessert that’s served across South India during festivals and major events. Rice or vermicelli (depending on the type of payasam) is added to boiled, sweetened milk and sometimes flavoured with cashews, almonds and cardamom. Coconut milk and jaggery occasionally replace the milk and sugar. Beware, this one is a jaw-gnashing kind of sweet.
eleneer payasam by Pankaj Kaushal via Flickr (CC license)
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