The similarities in the four states' cuisines are the presence of rice as a staple food, the use of lentils and spices, the use of dried red chillies and fresh green chillies, coconut and native fruits and vegetables like tamarind, plantain, snake gourd, garlic, ginger, etc.
Overall all the four cuisines have much in common and differ mostly in the spiciness of the food.
Described as the spiciest of these four states' cuisines, there is a generous use of chilli powder, oil and tamarind. The cuisine has a great variety of dishes, with the majority being vegetable or lentil based.
Hyderabad, the capital of Andhra Pradesh, has its own characteristic cuisine considerably different from other Andhra cuisines. The Nizams patronised the Hyderabadi cuisine, which is very much like the Nawabs of the Avadh with Lucknowi cuisine. The only difference is that the Nizams of Hyderabad liked their food to be spicier, resulting in the Hyderabadi cuisine which included the Kacche Gosht ki Biryani and the Dum ka Murgh, Baghare Baingan and Achaari Subzi during the reign of the Nizams.
Most famous food items
Vegetarian: pesarattu (mung bean pancake), pulihora or pulihaara (tamarind rice), gongura (hibiscus cannabinus leaf), ఊరగాయి(ఆవకాయి)(cut raw mango) pickle, పప్పు (toor dal) - tamarind soup), thotakura pappu (amaranth - pigeon pea stew), dosakaya pappu (yellow cucumber - pigeon pea stew), palakura pappu (spinach - pigeon pea dal), tomato pappu (tomato - pigeon pea soup), methi dal, gutti vankaya, perugupachadi/majjiga charu, tomato charu, miriyala charu, Bendakaya fry, dondakaya fry, palakoora pulusu, cabbage pesara pappu, carrot fry, sorakaya pulusu, totakoora pulusu, anapakaya pulusu.
raw pachadi-vankaya pachadi, dosakaya vanakaya pachadi, tomato pachadi, cabbage pachadi,
Non-vegetarian: Kodi iguru (chicken stew), Kodi pulusu (chicken gravy), Chepa pulusu (fish stew) etc.,Fish fry,Prawns curry Hyderabadi Biryani
Karnataka cuisine is very diverse. Described as the mildest in terms of spice content of these four states' cuisines, there is a generous use of Jaggery, palm sugar and litle use of chilli powder. Since the percentage of vegetarians in Karnataka is higher than other southern states, vegetarian food enjoys widespread popularity. Udupi cuisine forms an integral part of Karnataka cuisine.
In north Karnataka the staple grains are jowar and bajra. Rottis made out of these two grains along with side dishes made of eggplant, fresh lentil salads, spiced and stewed lentils are popularly consumed. They also consume a variety of spicy condiments like chutney powders and pickles. Of all the other regional cuisines in Karnataka, this is known for its fiery spice level and heat. Eateries called Khanavallioften run by families serve inexpensive but tasty home style food. Most of them are run by Veerashaivaa are therefore vegetarian but Khanavallis serving non-vegetarian food are not uncommon.
The cuisine of coastal Karnataka is marked by widespread use of seafood, coconut and coconut oil. Rice is the staple grain and is the centerpiece of every meal. Gravies called 'Gassi' made from chicken, fish, meats are served with rice. Lentils and vegetables cooked with coconut, spices and tempered with mustard, curry leaves, generous asafoetida, called Huli, is also served with rice. A Rasam-like preparation is called Saaru, which again is served with rice. The meal will also contain vegetable side dishes called Palya. Other accompaniments include curd-based Tambli, sweet-tangy Gojju, pickles and Happala or Papads. Some of the distinct breakfast foods served here include Bun, Biscuit rotti, Goli Bajji, and Patrode.
Coorgi cuisine is very distinct from the other regional cuisines of Karnataka, much like their culture. The hallmark of Coorgi cuisine is the widespread use of pork, game, and meats. They also use kokum generously in their cooking. While the staple food remains rice and rice-based preparations like kadambattu, steamed rice dumplings and rice rottis, their expertise in cooking non-vegetarian foods is unmatched.
The south Karnataka or the old Mysore cuisine is dominated by Ragi or finger millet and rice. Ragi in the form of Ragi Mudde of dumplings or steamed rice is the centerpiece of a meal. Often served with these two dishes are vegetable sides or Palya, Gojju, pickles, Tovve - mildly spiced lentils laced with Ghee, Huli - the lentil curry and Tili Saaru, a peppery thin watery curry almost like Rasam. Certain preparations like Bas saaru, which is a spiced vegetable or greens' stock along with seasoned vegetables or greens, Upp Saaru which is another lentil stock based accompaniment to rice or mudde, Mosoppu, which is mashed spiced greens, Maskai, which is mashed spiced vegetables, are typical home style food from this region. Avare Kal (or Indian beans) is a popular vegetable consumed during winter. They are used in a variety of dishes like Usali, Upma, Huli, Hitakida Bele Saaru etc.Rice preparations usually served as the second course of a traditional meals include Bisi bele baath, Chitranna, Hulianna, etc.
Yogurt is a typical part of every meal in all the regions of Karnataka and is probably the most popular dairy product. Generally yogurt with rice constitute the final course of a meal. Buttermilk laced with spices and curry leaves is also popularly served with meals especially during summer. Ghee and butter are also popular cooking mediums for those who can afford them, and are mostly reserved for festivals and special occasions.
The credit for popularizing these foods elsewhere in India goes to Udupi hotels. In fact, in north India, Udupi hotels are often synonymous with south Indian food, even though the range of foods they serve is mostly restricted to the Karnataka cuisine. These small establishments serve inexpensive vegetarian breakfast dishes throughout the day, all over India. These were mostly run by people native to the Canara region. The famous Masala Dosa traces its origin to Udupi cuisine and was subsequently popularized by Udupi restaurants.
Most famous food items
People from Karnataka are notorious for their sweet tooth. Mysore Pak, Obbattu/Holige, Dharwad pedha, Pheni, Chiroti are popular sweets. Apart from these sweets there are other lesser known sweets like 'Hungu', Kajjaya, Coconut Mithai, Rave Unde, Pakada Pappu, Chigali, a variety of Kadubus, Tambittu, Paramanna, and Hayagreeva. Most of these sweets are not milk-based, unlike the popular sweetmaking tradition elsewhere in India. Most of these sweets are made using Jaggery and not refined sugar.
Some typical Breakfast dishes include Masala Dosa, Ragi rotti, Akki rotti, Vangi Bath, Khara Bath, Kesari Bath, Davanagere Benne Dosa, Uppittu, Plain and Rave Idli, Mysore Masala Dosa, Kadubu, Poori etc. Lunch items include sambar, rasam and a delicacy called Bisi bele baath
Kerala cuisine is quite diverse. The diversity is best classified on the basis of the various communities. The Hindus, especially the Namboodris and Nairs have a predominantly vegetarian cuisine, whilst the Christian and the Muslim communities have a largely non-vegetarian cuisine. The Syrian Christian dishes and Malabari Muslim dishes are famous. Since Kerala's main export is coconuts, almost all of the dishes, irrespective of the variety in the cuisines of the different communities, have coconuts associated with them, either in the form of shavings or oil extracted from the nut. Seafood is also very popular in the coastal regions and eaten almost every day.
Most famous food items
Vegetarian: olan, paalpradaman, nendarangai chips, aviyal, pulissery, erucherri, sambar, rasam, kalan, upperis, pachady, kichadi.
Non-vegetarian: shrimp coconut curry, fish curry (various versions depending on the region), fish fry, Kerala beef fry, chicken fry with shredded coconuts, beef ularthyathu, fish pickle, pork masala, podimeen fry, meen thoran (fish with coconut), Karimeen (pearl spot fish) pollichathu, shrimp masala, chicken stew, mutton stew, duck curry, malabari fish curry, kakka (shells) thoran, kalllumekka, crabs, malabar biriyani, thalassery biriyani, pearl spot fish, jewel fish, mussels, squid, kappa boiled, kappa (tapioca) vevichathu with non- vegetarian curries, etc.
Snacks: upperi, payasam, banan fry (ethaykkappam or pazham pori), ullivada, kozhukkatta, avalosunda, unniyappam, neeyyappam, unnaykka, thira, churuttu, boli, modhakam, paal vazhaykka, cutlets, halwas, cakes, vattayappam, kinnathappam, irattymadhuram.
Breakfast: Puttu (with banana or kadala curry, egg curry, or beef fry).
Appam (velayappam, palappam) with curry, vegetable stew, fish molee, chicken or mutton stew, beef curry, duck roast, pork masala. Idiyappam also with same curries.
Pidi with mutton curry or chicken curry.
Porotta with beef fry, chicken curry, mutton curry or pork.
Idli, dosai with chutney.
Kanji with dry beans, pickle, pappad and made with coconut.
Typical Indian masala dosa (Kerala style): It is a combination of shredded, cooked, and fried vegetables with Indian sauce and a lot of spices as the basic stuffing, enveloped by a thick brown dosa made out of a dal and rice batter. To embellish this unique preparation, it is served with hot sambhar and coconut chutney.
A typical Tamil meal consists of many spicy and non-spicy dishes and is predominantly vegetarian. Many of these dishes are typically mixed and eaten with steamed rice, which is the staple food of the region.
Tamil cuisine groups dishes under four slightly overlapping categories. First are the dishes that necessarily are mixed with rice; various Kuzhambu, Sambhar, Paruppu, Rasam, Thayir, Kadaiyals and the likes belong to this category. The second are the side dishes that accompany such mixtures; Kootu, Kari, Poriyal, Pickles, Papads fall into this category. Third are the short snacks and their accompaniments; vadai, bonda, bajji, soups, various chutneys, thayir pachadi and the likes belong to this category. The fourth category is usually the rich, sweet dishes that serve as desserts; Payasam, Kheer, Kesari and a plethora of Indian sweets belong to this category.
An everyday Tamil meal consists of at least three to four courses, with steamed rice serving as the staple. The food usually starts with some paruppu (steamed, mashed lentils in a gravy) and ghee; this mix is eaten with rice and serves as an appetizer. The second to follow would be a kuzhambu or sambhar; mixed with rice, this is usually the main course. On leisure or festive days, there would be at least two such main courses with one Kuzhambu (Puli Kuzhambu, Vatha Kuzhambu and the likes) variety and one Sambhar variety. Third to follow will be the Rasam; again, mixed with rice, one usually eats this accompanied by crisps. The last of the courses will invariably be rice with curd or yoghurt; this is usually taken along with pickles. Throughout the meal, the side dishes are served and eaten with the courses, depending upon one's taste or choice; side dishes are constantly replenished during any meal. As a last course, the desserts are served. Finally guests retire to the living room and conclude the meal with banana and freshly made paan consisting of betel leaves, betel nuts and lime. paan is considered a digestive aid.
The situation is similar with Tamil non-vegetarian meals, except that the first and second courses are usually replaced by various Biryanis and non-vegetarian gravies.
In either case, a typical meal (Lunch or Dinner) will be served on a banana leaf. Meals are often accompanied by various pickles and appalams.
Food is generally classified into six tastes - sweet, sour, salt, bitter, pungent and astringent and traditional Tamil cuisine recommends that you include all of these six tastes in each main meal you eat. Each taste has a balancing ability and including some of each provides complete nutrition, minimizes cravings and balances the appetite and digestion.
Sweet (Milk, butter, sweet cream, wheat, ghee (clarified butter), rice, honey)
Sour (Limes and lemons, citrus fruits, yogurt, mango, tamarind)
Salty (Salt or pickles)
Bitter (Bitter gourd, greens of many kinds, turmeric, fenugreek)
Pungent (Chili peppers, ginger, black pepper, clove, mustard)
Astringent (Beans, lentils, turmeric, vegetables like cauliflower and cabbage, cilantro)
Chettinad cuisine is famous for its use of a variety of spices used in preparing mainly non-vegetarian food. The dishes are hot and pungent with fresh ground masalas, and topped with a boiled egg that is usually considered an essential part of a meal. They also use a variety of sun-dried meats and salted vegetables, reflecting the dry environment of the region. The meat is restricted to fish, prawn, lobster, crab, chicken and mutton. Chettiars do not eat beef and pork.
Most of the dishes are eaten with rice and rice based accompaniments such as dosais, appams, idiyappams, adais and idlis. The Chettinad people through their mercantile contacts with Burma, learnt to prepare a type of rice pudding made with sticky red rice.
Chettinad cuisine offers a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Some of the popular vegetarian dishes include idiyappam, paniyaram, vellai paniyaram, karuppatti paniyaram, paal paniyaram, kuzhi paniyaram, kozhakattai, masala paniyaram, adikoozh, kandharappam, seeyam, masala seeyam, kavuni arisi and athirasam.
Most famous food items
Vegetarian: idli, sambar, vadai, rasam, dosa, thayir sadam (yogurt rice), thayir vadai (yogurt-soaked fritters), kootu (vegetables in wet style), poriyal/kari (vegetables in dry style), murukku, uthappam, idiappam, appalam (deep fried lentil-flour crisps) and papadum (baked lentil-flour crips), freshly made thayir pachidi (yogurt mixed with fresh vegetables).
Non-vegetarian: karuvattu kuzhambu (salted, dried fish in wet sauce), chettinad pepper chicken, fish fry.