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The difference between North Indian and South Indian cuisine

Tuesday, July 24th, 2018 Indian Cuisine, Palki Restaurant

India is a land that delights the senses. Likewise, Indian cuisine packs an exotic combination of big flavours, rich textures, and spicy aromas. The huge country is home to many diverse regions, each with their own signature styles and traditions. The one thing they all have in common is a passion for food, just as we do at Palki.

In Vancouver, the dishes we are most familiar with can generally be split into those with roots in either the north or south of the country. Known for their spices, sauces, and bread, the main difference between north and south lies in the staple grain, either wheat or rice.

Curries and sauces from North India

When it comes to North Indian cuisine, it is the familiar dishes from Indian restaurants in Vancouver, that we are most aware of. North Indian cuisine tends to be thicker and creamier, featuring more meat than South Indian cuisine. It is a hearty, comforting affair. Curries and sauces from North India generally run from mild to moderate spice. Milk, paneer (a fresh cheese), ghee (clarified butter), and yogurt, are common amongst North Indian dishes, while chilies, saffron, and nuts also feature widely. The meals are wheat-based, as wheat prevails in the north Indian climate, and subsequently, the curries are thicker, so they can be scooped up by bread. A “tawa” or griddle, is used to bake flat bread, such as roti and paratha, and a “tandoor” is used to bake thicker bread, such as naan or kulcha. The tandoor is also used for baked dinners, including tandoori chicken, a popular Indian dish in Vancouver. Traditionally, a north Indian meal would conclude with a cup of tea or chai. Often, dessert is milk-based, such as milk cake, or kulfi.

South Indian cuisine provides a real taste of the exotic.

It is recognized as being spicier than northern cuisine, using Huli Pudi to spice up sauces and soups. South Indian cuisine is predominantly rice-based, as rice is the most common grain to grow in the southern climate. The curries in South Indian cuisine tend to have a watery constitution, perfect for soaking into rice. Lentils and coconut feature heavily in most South Indian soups, stews and curries, and the South Indian cuisine is often favoured by vegetarians. While meat can be incorporated into south Indian dishes, they are traditionally vegetarian, as a reflection of the primary local religion, Hinduism. A popular sweet and sour fruit, Tamarind, is used in stews and curries that include meat, while tomatoes are used to create a base for vegetable stews in South India. Another popular addition to sauces is the Rampe leaf, added for its aroma and flavour but removed before the dish is eaten. Mouth-watering snacks, native to south Indian cuisine, include the dosa (similar to a pancake), idli (savoury rice cakes), Bajji (similar to a spicy fritter), vada (fried, similar to doughnuts or dumplings), pickles and chutneys.

Coffee made with chicory is often served as the perfect note to finish on.

Now that you know the differences between North Indian and South Indian cuisine, you can find the perfect dish to suit your tastes on our menu. Bon appétit, or as we say “kripyā bhojan kā ānnaṅd lijīyai”.