"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well."- Virginia Woolf, A Room Of One's Own. Well! We all can agree upon that. Rightly so, food is a necessity in everyone's life, and it can shape your journey and define your memories. And without food, there is no authentic travel experience either. Especially when backpacking across South India.
When we think of south Indian cuisine, the adjectives that conjure up in our mind is delicious, exciting, diverse, savoury and authentic. However, from spices to ingredients, the cooking approach, further differ depending on its demographic. And with hundreds of food options, it may get a little tricky to have the best food experience when travelling in South India. So, to assist you with the same, we have compiled the best beverages, snacks and dishes offered by eight major cities in south India.
1. Chennai – Filter Coffee, Dosas and Bajjis
When travelling in Chennai, there is no better way to celebrate than with the joy of food! Chennai is synonymous with south Indian Cuisine, and the food it offers is simply the best.
Filter coffee and Dosas are the most consumed beverage and dish in Chennai. You can start the day with sweet-smelling filter coffee or satisfy your appetite in the morning with crunchy Masala Dosas and enjoy your evening with some hot Molaga Bhajjis in the Marina Beach, amid cool breeze and pleasant sunset.
2. Bangalore – Craft Beers and Steaks
Bangalore is an extension of Chennai's food culture. However, this start-up capital is also home to many innovative pubs and dining restaurants. Gone are the days, when tourists could indulge only in Udupi style dosas and Kodava food of Coorg origin. Bangalore is now a mish-mash of old and new cuisines.
Bangalore is India's unofficial beer capital of India. If you don't have a taste of the craft beers made in Bangalore, you would be missing the best of Bangalore has to offer. Pair that with juicy steaks in the new-age restaurants and your evening is set. Toast & Tonic, Prost, Millers 46 Steak House And Bar, Permit house and Brahma Brew Works are a few popular resto-bars in Bangalore, to name a few.
3. Hyderabad – Biryani, Mutton Samosa and Haleem
Hyderabad, an ancient city of India, is a marquee food destination where glorious traditional nizam cuisine still lives on. There are only two cities that make the best Biryanis in India, Lucknow and Hyderabad. So, when you are in Hyderabad, Biryani should be the first food you should indulge in. And Paradise Restaurant is the place to visit to have the best Biryani in Hyderabad.
Besides, its marquee dish you can also try mouth-watering Mutton Samosa in the streets. Haleem is another traditional age-old dish that has gained popularity over the years and making a mark in Hyderabad's food culture.
4. Kozhikode – Sulaimani Tea, Pazham Pori and Malabar Styled Biryani
Kozhikode or Calicut is the largest urban state in Kerala and is home to the best Malabar style cuisines in south India. From traditional local flavours to international cuisines, the city's food scene is thriving.
Sulaimani tea is one of the staple beverages in Kozhikode. And waking up to the aroma of fresh herbal Sulaimani tea is a pleasant experience. Besides tea, Pazham Pori or banana fritters is another local and tourist favourite and is synonymous with Kerala food culture. You can visit the Paragon restaurant to have the best Malabar-styled Biryani. The subtle mix of spices, fried onions and tender meat make this Biryani an absolute must-try.
5. Pondicherry – Prawn Thermidor and Ratatouille
Pondicherry is a land that offers both Indian and International cuisines and is an ideal getaway for food lovers. The palatable cuisine in Pondicherry is a perfect blend of French and Tamil flavours. Ratatouille is one of the most ordered dishes in Pondicherry. It is a classic french dish that is usually accompanied with bread and pasta.
Since it is located in the coastal region, Seafood is pretty famous too. Pondicherry's very-own Prawn Thermidor has the taste that will help the epicure take delight in every single bite.
It is cooked with very less oil and is easy to digest. Tourists and travellers visit Pondicherry time again, and its delicious cuisine is the primary influencer.
6. Udupi – Goli Baje, Neer Dosa, and Kane
Udupi may be a small coastal town in Karnataka; however, the culinary influence it has had on Karnataka and other states cannot be overlooked. Be it in Bangalore, Mumbai or Chennai, Udupi styled restaurants have made a mark across South India.
Goli Baje and Neer Dosa are the signature dishes, and you can find it in every nook and corner of Udupi. This deep-fried snack and airy Dosa are must-try food items in Udupi. Besides, these snacks, Udupi is also a famous food spot for fish eaters. Since it is located in the coastal area, you can expect some of the best and fresh fish to be served on your platter. And Kane (Ladyfish) is the most famous! A taste of Kane fry will surely leave you asking for more.
7. Madurai – Mutton balls, Kothu Parotta and Idli
Though overshadowed by Chennai for its economic indifference, Madurai still holds the title for being the place that started the South Indian food revolution. With its vibrant culinary identity, Madurai has become an important food hub in Tamil Nadu.
Mutton balls is one of the most ordered food items in Madurai. It is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside; the description alone will make many non- vegetarian drool! Kothu Parotta is a famous street dish in Madurai. This flaky flatbread goes well with any curry and is a must-try in Madurai. Another authentic Madurai dish is Idli, you may have had Idli elsewhere, but the fluffy Idli that is made in Madurai is out of this world. You may ask, what is so special about Madurai Idly? Well, that cannot be explained in mere words, you should visit Madurai to experience it.
8. Coorg – Pandi Curry and Kadumbuttu
Coorgs' highlights goes beyond just picturesque views, landscapes and cascades. Home to many spice plantations, Coorg has its own delicious cuisine. Whether it is meaty treats or breakfast staples, Coorg cuisine has a little of everything to offer for epicures.
Pandi curry is Coorgs' best dish! Steaming chunks of pork with tangy gravy, served with rice, makes it a heavenly recipe for any food lover. Kadumbuttu's are steamed rice balls mixed with a small amount of grated coconut. It is best enjoyed with Pandi curry or Chicken curry. Coorg's delicious cuisine is bound to leave you craving for more.