About Southern Indian Cuisine - October 2009 - Spice Routes - Southern India - Atlanta Magazine

About Southern Indian Cuisine


Right around Mumbai, which perches on the Arabian Sea below Gujarat, an implied demarcation stretches across India, separating what is considered the country’s North and South. Topography—desert, mountains, a landlocked North, and a water-encircled South—ensured that the two halves each developed unique cultures, cookery included. Southerners prize coconuts, which they value for the savory flesh, the creamy milk, and the frying oil they can derive from them. The North and South both include wheat and rice in their diets: Southerners prefer rice not just as a starch to accompany their curries, but also as flour to make steamed cakes, savory doughnuts, and the famous crepes called dosas. Atlanta’s numerous South Indian restaurants can generally be thorny to navigate if you’re searching for the fragrant, singular expressions of that tropical region’s bounty. They all integrate Northern dishes into their menus, or create dubious amalgams by, for example, slipping Punjabi creamed spinach into a dosa’s folds. Hunting South Indian flavors in Atlanta, then, becomes microcosmic: It’s all about uncovering the right dish or two in the right restaurant.