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North vs South Indian cuisines ~ what's the difference?

A lot of people ask us, what's the main difference between North and South Indian Cuisine? We at Zara's take influence from both sides of our homelands... But for your knowledge, there is a world of difference in terms of flavour and spicing etc in either hemisphere. Here is a tiny look at those differences:

-Courtesy of

'Indian cuisine is commonly found all across the United States, and many people love tikka masala and savor every piece of naan. You may be surprised to learn that these dishes aren’t eaten in all parts of India. Each region and state is known for specialty dishes with a variety of ingredients and flavors. Two notable regional differences are between North and South India. Below are a few unique qualities of both areas.

The Difference Between North and South Indian Cuisine


Vegetarians and vegans will find it very easy to eat good meals in most areas of India. This is particularly true in South India, where vegetarian food dominates. Because it is a peninsula, there are also many seafood options available. North India utilizes freshwater fish and more meat than the South. Chicken and lamb are common entrée items, though vegetarian dishes are still abundant.


Coconuts play an important role in religion and social life in India, but they are not commonly used for dishes in the North. Cream and yogurt are often added to ease spiciness and create texture. South Indian food tends to be hotter, though spice levels can always be adjusted. Unlike the North, they make frequent use of curry leaves, coconut oil, and coconut milk.

Bread vs. Rice

You’re likely used to getting bread alongside curry and rice. However, bread is more of a northern thing, while rice is ubiquitous to the South. This is due to climate differences; milder temperatures are conducive to growing wheat, while rice is suited for tropical climates. Rice is certainly still eaten in the North, but it’s generally part of an entrée rather than a side item.


Due to the prevalence of bread scooping in North India, sauces tend to be thicker and richer. Rice soaks up thinner sauces in the South, letting it absorb the flavors nicely. With the replacement of dairy with coconut milk, sauce in Southern India is served watery, allowing more of the spicy, tangy flavors to come through.

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