The other day, I was having lunch with two Gujarati friends when they joked about South Indian food being all about coconuts. “Add a coconut to anything, and hey we’re done. Food’s ready!” If I had had a coconut in my hand, I wouldn’t have thought twice about breaking it open on their heads.
Yes, I’m South Indian and the coconut is an inseparable part of our diet. We also oil our hair with coconut oil, once in a while. But hey, we don’t add coconuts to everything. Alright, alright, shall we confess? We spend half our income on coconuts (and the other half on gold). We love coconuts. Period.
Rice, of course, is our first love. We might sometimes, add to our meals, parathas, puris, naans or rotis but rice is never completely off the menu. You can go ahead and judge us but no meal is complete without curd rice. Like I said, rice is our first love, a love we haven’t got over yet. Perhaps, never will.
Another ingredient we go gaga over is the curry leaf. It’s our magic ingredient. If you don’t like it, stay away from our food but please, don’t crib about it.
Jackfruits, like mangos are omnipresent during summer. It will be a part of every course, fried as chips, cooked in curries and as dessert too.
Fish is another of our weaknesses. We lose the little self control we have when we see fish.
But to get serious for a bit, it is time to get rid of the myth fossilized around South Indian food. None of the four states have a cuisine restricted to dosas, idlis and medhu vadas. It’s time to go beyond these, break through stereotypes and explore the myriad, distinct and authentic flavours of South Indian food.
For now, I shall go have a cup of steaming hot filter kaapi. Don’t like it? You will be disowned. Enough said.