20 Essential South Indian Recipes

Goan Pork Vindaloo
Goan Pork Vindaloo. Photo: Alina

If you love Indian cuisine, you might be more familiar with North Indian cuisine, which highlights creamy curries and is often more represented in restaurants. These are the delicious butter chicken, saag paneer, and chicken tikka masala dishes that we all know and love. But don't sleep on South Indian cuisine! Southern Indian cooking favors spicy, tangy flavors, somewhat lighter preparations, and features lots of vegetables, lentils, coconut milk, seafood, and rice dishes. Here are some of our very favorite South Indian-inspired recipes. Give them a try!

01 of 21

Kerala Chicken Curry

"This is a fantastic main dish for a South Indian meal, which should always be served with several dishes," says Anne-Marie. "Enjoy this chicken curry with curried green beans, parboiled or basmati rice, or a flat bread. The red chili powder called for here is NOT the same as the chili powder Americans use to flavor chili and tacos. This red chili powder is available from Indian grocery stores and is MUCH HOTTER."

02 of 21

Gobi Manchurian

Gobi Manchurian is a South Indian mash-up that combines cauliflower, Indian spices, and Chinese stir-fry preparations. "This is one of my favorite gobi (cauliflower) recipes, a spicy Asian dish available at many Indian restaurants," says sunwind. "Occasionally, I even love to bake the cauliflower to lower the calories. Keep in mind, baking will take away from the crispiness of fried cauliflower."

03 of 21

Black Pepper Goat Curry

"Black pepper is found in abundance in Kerala (South India); coupled with curry leaves it takes goat to a whole new level," says Tarama. "Serve with Rasam and rice or with rotis. You may substitute lamb for the goat if you wish."

04 of 21

Authentic and Easy Shrimp Curry

Authentic and Easy Shrimp Curry
Authentic and Easy Shrimp Curry. Allrecipes Magazine

"This is a home-style South Indian shrimp curry recipe from my husband's family," says Anonymous. "It is simple and quick to make. It contains no coconut so is not sweet, just mostly juicy and as hot as you like it. Serve with basmati rice or an Indian flatbread."

05 of 21

Goan Pork Vindaloo

Goan Pork Vindaloo
Goan Pork Vindaloo. Alina

Flavored with chilies, garlic, and vinegar, this traditional Goan pork dish is spicy and tangy at the same time. "Leaves your taste buds tingling for more," says Anonymous. "Serve with rice or crusty rolls."

06 of 21

Chicken Biryani, Hyderabadi Style

Chicken Biryani, Hyderabadi Style
Chicken Biryani, Hyderabadi Style. Allrecipes

"This recipe is an authentic Hyderabadi-style biryani that is a trademark of home-cooking in South India," says Anonymous. "For a more traditional version, substitute curd (homemade south Indian yogurt) for yogurt. If you cannot find ginger garlic paste, crush together ginger and garlic in equal portions."

  • Watch the Video
07 of 21

Chicken Vindaloo

Here's a chicken version of the spicy Goan pork dish. "A spicy curry dish is originally a Portuguese dish of spicy pork, but you can add any meat you wish," says Keith Dallmer.

08 of 21

Khara Pongal

Khara Pongal in a dark pot

This classic south Indian yellow lentils and rice dish combines dried red chilies, fresh green chile peppers, grated fresh coconut, and cashews.

09 of 21

Lasooni Murgh (Garlic Flavored Spicy Chicken)

This traditional Indian dish is creamy and full of flavor and should be served over some kind of carb (rice, potatoes, naan) to absorb and dissimulate the spice," says DOSTANDEN. "It can be easily done in a vegetarian version by substituting the chicken with potatoes, broccoli, spinach, and/or paneer. I garnish it with cilantro leaves and grated cheese."

10 of 21

Ada (Adai)

"Ada is a type of dosa (crepe) usually served at breakfast," says SUSMITA. "It is made with a mixture of lentils and rice, and is quite filling. It is typically eaten with podi (south Indian spicy chutney powder) and mango pickle (avakkai). Since the batter is made with raw lentils, it gets fermented easily. It will keep in the refrigerator for 1 or 2 days maximum."

11 of 21

Coconut Chutney

Coconut Chutney
Chell Cohen

This South Indian-inspired coconut chutney is traditionally served with dosa and idli (steamed rice and lentil cakes).

12 of 21

Real Indian Mango Chutney

"This chutney has a sweet and sour taste and goes particularly well with samosas and mint raita," says Michelle. "Make it at least 2 weeks in advance for enhanced flavor or 1 day before serving."

13 of 21

Chicken Stew (Kerala-Style)

"Enjoy your Sunday brunch with a Kerala-style chicken stew," says The Take It Easy Chef. "This mildly spiced, creamy stew can be paired with appam, bread, or chapatis. Alternatively, you can have it with rice."

14 of 21

Goan Chicken Cafreal

Goan Chicken Cafreal
Danielle K.

Here's a traditional Goan take on masala chicken. You can either fry the chicken inside or take it to the grill. You'll rub the chicken pieces with a flavorful rub, a homemade masala paste made with chile peppers, cilantro, garlic, ginger, tamarind, poppy seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, and turmeric.

15 of 21

Easy Indian-Style Pumpkin Curry

"An extremely nutritious and tasty preparation rich in antioxidants and vitamins, this popular dish is made during festivals in Kerala, South India," says Asha N Basu. "What's vital to the dish, however, is the process of frying the coconut at the end to season the dish. This imparts a unique flavor and aroma to this curry."

16 of 21

Ven Pongal

Ven Pongal on a black plate
Buckwheat Queen

Here's a popular savory South Indian breakfast dish, featuring yellow lentils (moong dal) and rice seasoned with cumin seeds and curry leaves. "An ideal dish for any time of the day," says Mojo jojo. "Can be served with spicy chutney and vatral-kozhambu (spicy and sour sauce).

17 of 21


Idli. gompte

This popular South Indian steamed breakfast dish is combines rava (semolina), cashews, seasonings, and yogurt.

18 of 21

Onion Tamarind Chutney

Onion Tamarind Chutney
Onion Tamarind Chutney. Rita

Here's a savory, spicy chutney featuring chile peppers, onions, tomatoes, and tangy tamarind paste. "This is a delicious South Indian chutney traditionally served with idlis or dosa, the famous Indian rice pancake," says delicia annie James.

19 of 21

Easy Malai Kulfi

Easy Malai Kulfi
Photo by Allrecipes. Allrecipes

"A fantastic summer dessert, kulfi is Indian-style ice cream. However, unlike ice cream, kulfi is not churned," says SUSMITA. "This is a quick and easy version of kulfi. I almost never make kulfi the old way any more."

20 of 21

Quick Nariyal Burfi (Indian Coconut Fudge)

Quick Nariyal Burfi (Indian Coconut Fudge)

"This traditional Indian sweet made easy with my Western fudge-making adaptations!" says Lola in the Kitchen. "No boiling water and sugar or use of a candy thermometer in this recipe!"

Was this page helpful?
You’ll Also Love