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South Indian cuisine includes the cuisines of the five southern states of India—Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Telangana—and the union territories of Lakshadweep, Pondicherry, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. There are typically vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes for all five states. Additionally, all regions have typical main dishes, snacks, light meals, desserts, and drinks that are well known in their respective region.
Regional cuisines of South Indian include:
There are also several regional sub-types of cuisine within these states. Among notable sub-types of regional cuisine include; Udupi cuisine, Chettinad cuisine, Hyderabadi cuisine, Thalassery cuisine, Mangalorean Catholic cuisine. South Indian cuisine shares numerous similarities with the cuisines of Sri Lanka and the Maldives due to a similar geographic location and culture, and some similarities with the cuisines of Myanmar, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and South Africa due to historical migration.
According to culinary historians K. T. Achaya and Ammini Ramachandran, the ancient Sangam literature dated from 3rd century BCE to 3rd century CE offers early references to food and recipes during Sangam era, whether it's a feast at king's palace, meals in towns and countryside, at hamlets in forests, pilgrimage and the rest-houses during travels. It describes cuisine of various landscapes and people who reside there, how they prepared food and what they served their guests in details. Poet Avvaiyar for example describes her hearty summer lunch as "steamed rice, smoked and mashed aubergine and tangy frothy buttermilk", while poet named Mudathama Kanniyar describes “Skewered goat meat, crispy fried vegetables, rice and over 16 varieties of dishes" as part of the royal lunch he was treated to in the palace of the Chola king. Sangam literature also offers references to food being eaten on several different types of leaf platters and thalis with several bowls. Sangam period archeological sites like Tirunelveli has uncovered notable household bronzeware utensils including "ornamental vase stands, bowls, jars and cups of different patterns with ornamental bowl lids" which were likely used for thali presentation as described in Sangam texts.
Several notable Indian cookbooks were written in southern India during medieval period, these include Lokopakara (1025 CE), Manasollasa (1130 CE), Soopa Shastra (1508 CE), Bhojana Kutuhala (1675 CE), Sivatattva Ratnakara (1699 CE), among others. These cookbooks contains both vegetarian and non-vegetarian cuisines, with exception of Soopa Shastra which is a Jain vegetarian cookbook.
Main article: Indian Ocean trade
Indian ocean trade played important role in spread of Indian spices to western world during classical era. Black pepper is native to the Malabar Coast of India, and the Malabar pepper is extensively cultivated there. During classical era, spices like black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom and fragrant woods like sandalwood and agarwood were part of Indo-Roman trade network from the ancient port of Muziris in the southwestern coast of India. During Middle Ages prior to the Age of Discovery which began with the end of the 15th century CE, the kingdom of Calicut (Kozhikode) on Malabar Coast was the centre of Indian pepper exports to the Red Sea and Europe at this time with Arab traders being particularly active. Tomatoes and chili peppers were introduced by Portuguese and "English Vegetables" (cabbage, cauliflower, turnip etc.) as they were at one time termed, became part of local cuisine by late 1800s.