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When speaking of cuisine, "South Indian" refers to the dishes from in the four southernmost Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala. These states are hot - both temperature and their cuisine. The ingredients here are a result of indigenous plants, introduced agriculture, and historic trade. Indian rice is predominantly produced in these southern states; it's no surprise that rice occupies an important portion of the plate. Sometimes tapioca or doughnut-like vada may substitute, but usually rice is eaten every meal of the day. Many different roti breads also frequently accompany meals. Plantains, palmyra palms or their fruits, coconut, cashews, chillies, snake gourds, mangos, aubergine and tamarind offer a wide variety of vegetative flavours. Lentils, nuts, and beans fill out a vegetarian dish, and meat-eaters may enjoy dishes centred around fish, beef, pork, chicken, lamb, or mutton. Kerala in particular shares similar agricultural conditions and products as nearby Sri Lanka, and South Indian mirrors that island country for a spice set that emerged from maritime trade. Expect to find curries with generous quantities of cardamom, cinnamon, vanilla, white and black pepper, cloves, nutmeg, mace, and ginger. Thrill-seekers may also meet their match with some of the spiciest food in the world here. Australian establishments are likely to turn down the heat a bit. Chutneys, fruit and milk desserts, and yoghurt-based sauces offer cool alternatives to hot dishes.

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