South Indian cuisine includes the cuisines found in the four southern states of India: Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
The similarities among the four states` cuisines include the presence of rice as a staple food, the use of lentils and spices, dried red chillies and fresh green chillies, coconut, and native fruits and vegetables including, plantain, snake gourd, garlic and ginger. The four cuisines have much in common and differ primarily in the spiciness of the food.
South Indians use more rice. Consumption of rice is more common among certain communities.
Kerala cuisine is very diverse; diversity is best classified on the basis of the various communities. Most of the food is vegetarian. However, with a higher Christian and Muslim population than other states, non-vegetarian dishes are also common. The Hindus have a predominantly vegetarian cuisine, whilst the Christian and the Muslim communities have a largely non-vegetarian cuisine. The Syrian Christian dishes and Malabar 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. Seafood is also very popular in the coastal regions and eaten almost every day.
Karnataka cuisine is very diverse. Described as the mildest in terms of spice content of the four southern states cuisines, there is a generous use of jaggery, palm sugar and little use of chilly 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.
The cuisines of Andhra are the spiciest in all of India. Generous use of chilly powder and tamarind make the dishes tangy and hot. The majority of a diverse variety of dishes is vegetable- or lentil-based.
A typical Tamil meal consists of many spicy and non-spicy dishes. Tamils eat more non-vegetarian food. However, on a typical day, a Tamil family will eat mostly vegetarian food, and the intake of meat is much lower compared to Western countries. Many of these dishes are typically mixed and eaten with steamed rice, which is the staple food of the region.