Even before I start this post of North Indian Food vs South Indian Food, let me clear few things up.
I was born and raised in Delhi, which is in the heart of North India. After 23 years of eating and few years of cooking North Indian food, I got married to a South Indian. I have been cooking both North and South Indian food for more than 12 years now.
This tells you 2 things about me-
- My age 😉
- I am not judging just by the cover, have cooked both North Indian and South Indian food for more than 12 years now. I have spent time learning the cuisines to be able to understand and compare them.
In India cuisines vary every 100 km . Even classifying these diverse cuisines into 2 broad categories of North India and and South Indian is simplifying. But we can’t compare all cuisines individually for each state (roughly 36) as that’s too many.
Thus, these 2 categories seem to be simple yet coherent way of differentiating Indian food and cuisines.
North Indian Food vs South Indian Food which one is better?
The South Indian cuisine scores higher than North Indian because its recipes are healthier, the natural flavors of vegetables are preserved and there is comparatively less use of fats.
This post does a detailed comparison of the 2 cuisines on the basis of following 4 criteria:-
Which one is healthier Cuisine North or South Indian?
South Indian Food is healthier.
|North Indian Cuisine Health Pros||South Indian Cuisine Health Pros|
|– Curry based so onion and tomatoes are used a lot|
– North Indian lentil curries like Rajma, Chola have high protein in them
|– Most curries have lentil base |
– Vegetables are cooked without potatoes
– Fresh Coconut is used as a staple in most dishes
– Lentils are used like spices so more lentils means more protein
– Less oil is used
– Fermented food is part of every day meals.
– Healthy Vegetables like beetroot, drumsticks, all varieties of beans, yam are used a lot in everyday cooking.
|North Indian Cooking Health Cons||South Indian Cooking Health Cons|
|– North Indian dry curries tend to have potatoes along with veggies in them|
– Lot of carbohydrates as breads are a staple whether Naan, Parathas or Chapatis.
– More fat i.e. oil or butter is used for cooking
– Fermented food options are usually not part of everyday cooking.
– Healthy vegetables like beetroot are used as salads but there are no popular recipes. Not all bean varieties, drumsticks, and yam are used either.
|– Fried staples like Vadas and Papdums are part of daily meals|
– Rice is a staple and is part of almost every meal.
Which one tastes better?
North Indian food tastes better.
|North Indian Cuisine Taste Pros||South Indian Cuisine Taste Pros|
|– North Indian food is richer in flavor because of use of fats like butter and cream|
– Dry fruits also make the North Indian food richer
– There is a wide range of street food options called Chaat. These chaat are filled with wide range of flavors and are delicious. You can call them Indian fast food. Not always healthy but delicious.
– Some of the common examples of chaat are golgappas, tikki, papdi chaat, bhel puri etc.
|– The cuisine highlights the natural flavor of the vegetables.|
– There isn’t heavy use of spices in the vegetable dishes. Though, spices are used for making lentil like sambar and rasam.
|North Indian Cooking Taste Cons||South Indian Cooking Taste Cons|
|-If the cooking isn’t done right, all curries can end up tasting the same.||– Though there are few fried snack options like Vadas, but the flavors don’t tickle the taste buds like North Indian Chaat|
Which one out of the two is more complex or hard to learn?
South Indian food is more complex and hard to learn.
|North Indian Cuisine Ease to Learn||South Indian Cuisine Ease to Learn|
|– The staple curries and lentils are cooked in SIMILAR way. So once you know the basics that can be applied easily to similar dishes. You will find VERY few exceptions to the standard cooking steps.|
– Spice mixes like garam masala can be used across the dishes and is not limited to just one.
|– The South Indian lentil based mix is very versatile. Once you have the batter made, the same batter can be used for more than 3 different types of dishes.|
|North Indian Cooking Complexity||South Indian Cooking Complexity|
|– North Indian cooking aficionados usually make spice mixes for each dish. If you go to that level of detail then it can get fairly complex very quickly.||– Lot of dishes have their own spice blends. Sambar has its own which is different that a rasam. Similarly pitla, rasa and many more.|
– As if India didn’t have enough spices to confuse us, South Indian cooking uses lentils in the spice mixes as well.
Which one out of North Indian and South Indian food is more popular?
North Indian food is more popular. Below are the reasons:
- North Indian Fast Food option i.e. Chaat is a feather on the cap of the cuisine. Its like a little flavor party on our palette.
- The preparation process of curries is similar. The same base curry can be modified slightly to make a different dish. This makes North Indian food more business friendly.
- Higher fat, dry fruits and dairy content makes the curries richer and thus pleasant on the palette.
Which one out of two cooking methods should a beginner learn first?
If you want to make restaurant style curry and naans then North Indian. North Indian food definitely tastes better and is easier to learn.
If you want to learn a cooking style that preserves the natural flavor of vegetables. If you want to learn recipes for lot of healthy vegetables like beetroot, turnip, beans then start with South Indian cooking.
It does not have to be either one, you can learn both too. Learning either is mutually exclusive to other.
Personally, I would start with North Indian as its easier but tastes better.