Skip to Content

What Is The Difference Between Northern And Southern Indian Food

What Is The Difference Between Northern And Southern Indian Food

What Is The Difference Between Northern And Southern Indian Food

The staple food of northern India is wheat while that of southern India is rice. The main difference between them is the use of meat. South Indians more focus on vegetarian dishes, and rice and beans are more utilized in their dishes. While in north Indian food lamb and chicken are more common.

Getting an idea about the major differences between the food in north India vs. south India is quite easy, since wheat is a staple of the people living on the north side of India, whereas rice is the staple food for people living on the south side of India. This makes the Northern part of India an excellent location for rice cultivation, which happens to be a staple in South Indian cuisine.

North India is known for its spicy dishes, while South is known for its seafood and coconut-based dishes. North Indians traditionally used both vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods, while the South Indians relied more on rice, vegetables, and the occasional sea-based seafood. As you can see, there are a lot of vegetarian dishes served in North India that largely depend on rice, lentils, dal, tomatoes, and coconut.

Northern FoodSouthern Food
Nihari GoshtLentils
Types of northern and southern Indian foods.

As South Indian dishes are generally built on rice, lentils, and stews, thus dishes like dosa (based on lentils and a rice crepe), idli (based on lentil rice cakes), saaru/rasam (made from tomato, tamarind, lentil soup), sambhar/huli (based on tangy lentils and vegetables stew) are some of the more famous ones that are slowly made with rice. As you can see, South Indian vegetarian cooking uses rice, lentils, stews, tomatoes, and coconut in creating their veggie dishes. South Indian food scores higher than north Indian food because its recipes are healthier, it retains the natural flavours of vegetables, and it uses less fat, in comparison.

North Indian food is generally characterised by the use of spices, dairy products, and grain-based staples, and most of its cooking influences are derived from Arabs and Persians. North Indian cuisine is mostly characterized by its spice, its frequent use of dairy products, tandoor ovens, tawa grills, and wheat-based staples. Northern Indian food is known for a strong focus on vegetarian dishes, whereas Southern Indian cuisine is known for being highly seasoned and pungent.

Watch this video to learn about difference between North and South Indian food

If you’re interested in Can Stainless Steel Pans Go In The Dishwasher, take a look at my other article.

North Indian cuisine most often uses meat and dairy products as a center for its dishes, as opposed to seafood and vegetables of southern India. South Indian food also includes spices and milk, but the differences between southern food and northern are a preference for grains as the mainstay, use of tamarind for its distinctive acidic flavour, and their sambars and rasams (thin, tangy broths). Southern Indian dishes more often incorporate rice and coconut into their dishes, since rice is a staple crop of southern India.

In North India, food is generally less spicy, since spice use generally varies between mild to medium, while, conversely, south Indian dishes are slightly more pungent than the former. Both the north and the south make use of many of the same spices, however South Indian dishes often will use whole curry leaves as accents and add a lot more spices to a dish. South Indian dishes really do more of use the curry leaf, while garam masala, a blend of spices used in the north, really does tend to be a bit sweeter. Additional milk, yogurt, or other dairy products may tone down the level of spices in these north dishes, while in the south, there is generally more use of water or thinner coconut milk.

When we are talking about Northern India, wheat is grown fairly widely, so breads like naan and roti are more prevalent in that region, while rice and lentils are consumed heavily in Southern Indian cuisines, and act as complete protein sources in a meal. North, unlike South, relies mostly on wheat instead of rice as a main staple. Wheat grows abundantly in northern states, creating a more wheat-based than rice-based diet. In Northern Indians, you find vegetarians as well as non-vegetarians, and one of the biggest things that separates them is their overuse of wheat.

In the Northern Indian food, you will discover a strong Arabic and Persian influence and that is the main reason why these dishes are a lot heavier and creamier when you compare it to South Indians.

Although the majority of Indian restaurants in the west serve Northern Indian (or Punjabi-style) dishes–rich, creamy curries and gravies; dishes such as Butter Chicken, Navaratan Korma, Tandoori-baked meats, and Naan Bread–South Indian foods are distinctive. Much of what you will find at restaurants in the West — such as naan bread, rotis, samosas, curries such as palak paneer (spinach and cheese) and aloo ghobi (potato and cauliflower) and similar dishes — is northern Indian. In fact, when it comes to Indian cuisine, the various regions all have their specialties, making some people choose one over another.

If you’re interested in What Is The Difference Between Jamaican And Indian Curry, take a look at my other article.

Thinking that all the cuisines in India are alike may hinder your understanding of the complexities of Indian culture, and may hinder your ability to find your favourite dishes or variations. Indian food is most influenced by the cuisines from abroad, and many recipes are often evolving as a result of the new styles that are being adopted on Indian tastes. The subtleties of Indian cooking are more evident by comparing preparations of similar recipes in neighbouring states or even in communities in the same state.

Different crops and ingredients from each region enable North and South to have their specialty dishes and snacks. A wide range of fresh, seasonal fruits, as well as vegetables and spices grown on North Indian territories, are also found in the various dishes.

Instead of the cream that is typically found in Northern dishes, Southern India goes for seeds, pounded spices, tomatoes, and different kinds of daals (lentils) used as enhancers, garnishes. Along with coconut milk being replaced, South Indians pungent spices are replaced by the more moderate ones found in northern India, such as amchoor (dried mango powder) and dried fenugreek. Common dishes from south India include dosa–a crepe made of lentils and rice, Idli–steamed rice cakes made of lentils, saaru/rasam–a lentil, tamarind, and tomato soup, Huli/Sambar–a spicy lentils and vegetables stew, Vada–crispy deep-fried lentil doughnuts, and Kozhikode biryani–chicken with southern spices. Rice is definitely still eaten in north India, but is usually a part of the main course, not the side.

Is chicken tikka masala North or south Indian?

Butter chicken, a delicacy prevalent in the northern Indian subcontinent, might be the source of chicken tikka masala. Bangladeshi immigrant cooks working in Britain in the 1960s are credited with creating the Multicultural Handbook of Food, Nutrition, and Dietetics.

Is biryani North or South Indian?

Originally introduced by Arab traders to the Indian subcontinent, biryani has South Indian origins, according to Pratibha Karan, author of Biryani. The pulao could have been a dish used by the army in medieval India, according to her. With whatever meat was available, soldiers prepared a one-pot dish of rice. That is how biryani was invented.

Is North Indian food better or South Indian?

As a result of its healthier recipes, natural flavor of vegetables, and comparatively less use of fat, South Indian cuisine scores higher than North Indian cuisine. There is a tendency for Northern Indian cuisine to be less spicy, using spices such as masala that are mild to moderate in spice. Like many tropical cultures, southern India’s food tends to be spicier.