What strikes me about South Indian cuisine each time I visit that part of India is how creative it is with a humble cup of rice! They steam, ferment, grind, slow-cook, roll, simmer, sauté to produce a plethora of interesting and very tasty dishes. Here's a few I got messy with on my trip back home earlier this month...a LOT of Tamil and Kannadiga food was eaten...

Idiyappam

Cooking techniques involved: Grind to rice flour, cook with water, squeeze into noodles, steam

To accompany: curries, or even just sugar and coconut milk!

Idiyappam
Idiyappam

Idlis

Cooking techniques involved: Soak in water with urad dal, grind to make a paste, ferment overnight, steam

To accompany: coconut chutney and sambhar (spicy lentil soup)

Idlis
Idlis

Dosa

Cooking techniques involved: Soak in water with urad dal, grind to make a paste, ferment for a day, cook on a frying pan, like you would a pancake

To accompany: curries, sambhar and chutneys of different types (coconut, tomato, groundnut, coriander are a few popular ones)

Breakfast at Chikmagalur, Karnataka
Breakfast at Chikmagalur, Karnataka

Akki roti

Cooking techniques involved: Grind to rice flour, make into dough with hot water, roll out into pancakes (rice flour dough is crumbly and difficult to roll out. It's often patted onto the pan instead, to form a pancake), cook

To accompany: curries and sides

Akki roti with a colocassia leaves side dish
Akki roti with a colocassia leaves side dish

Appey

Cooking techniques involved: Soak in water with urad dal, grind to a paste, ferment overnight or for longer, add grated coconut, sauteéd onions, curry leaves, mustard seeds and chilli, steam in a lightly greased appey pan

To accompany: coconut chutney

Appey in Chikmaglur, Karnataka
Appey in Chikmaglur, Karnataka

Kozhukattai payasam

Cooking techniques involved: Grind to rice flour, slow-cook with water to make a dough, roll into tiny balls, boil in a coconut milk, jaggery and moong dal mixture, season with cardamom, and drizzle with ghee

To accompany: eat this delicious dessert on its own. Recipe coming up soon...

kozhukattai payasam recipe
kozhukattai payasam recipe

Vegetable biryani

Cooking techniques involved: Slow-cook with sauteéd mixed vegetables and spices

To accompany: onion and tomato raita, or a mild vegetable curry

Vegetable biryani
Vegetable biryani

Sannas

These are fluffy rice and coconut cakes.

Cooking techniques involved: Soak in water, grind to paste, mix with grated coconut, ferment overnight with yeast (in Goa, toddy is used instead!),  steam

To accompany: spicy curries

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Those are just 8 rice-based dishes I sampled in South India this time. There are plenty more, which I'll come to in a later post! In the meantime, do share your favourites here...

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