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By: lisa
South Indian cuisine has a very rich and interesting history behind its evolution and growth. Encompassing the cuisine of the four South Indian states namely Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the food from these states is both rich and delicious. Andhra cuisine is considered as extremely spicy and hot because of the generous use of chilli powder and tamarind. On the other hand, Karnataka cuisines is very diverse and has a whole range of delicacies with generous use of jaggery, palm sugar and minimum chilli powder. Since the percentage of vegetarians are higher in the state, vegetarian dishes enjoy a lot of popularity. In addition, Udupi cuisine is an integral part of Karnataka cuisine. Kerala cuisine is very diverse and is a mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. While the Hindus, particularly the Nambudiris and Nairs enjoy vegetarian dishes, the Muslim communities enjoy non-vegetarian dishes. A typical Tamil meal has a combination of both spicy and non-spicy dishes. Except for Brahmins and some non-Brahmin castes, Tamilians enjoy non-vegetarian dishes. Many of their dishes are typically mixed and eaten with steamed rice, which is the staple food of the region. So overall, South Indian dishes are not just diverse, hot and spicy but are healthy and nutritious as well. In this article, we explore three food items from South India that are high on not just flavor but nutrition as well.

Idli: A classic dish that is an integral part of the South Indian cuisine, idli is made from fermented rice and black gram. Mostly eaten at breakfast or as a snack, idlis are generally served in pairs and are generally accompanied with chutney or sambar. Some of the health benefits of idlis include the following:

Each idli has only 39 calories and contains almost no amount of fat, saturated fat or cholesterol. Consuming less than 16 grams of saturated fat and 300 milligrams of cholesterol reduces the risk of heart diseases and stroke in a substantial manner
A single idli has 2 grams each of protein and dietary fiber as well as 8 grams of carbohydrates. This is therefore one of those few low carbohydrate dishes that you can snack on without gaining weight. For maintaining a healthy body, a person requires 50 grams of protein and 225 grams of carbohydrates on a daily basis. When a person has adequate protein it facilitates muscle repair and carbohydrates provide energy for daily activities. On the other hand, fiber promotes healthy digestion. While men need between 28 and 34 grams of fiber and women between 22 and 28 grams daily Idli is steamed so it is easily digestible while the use of dal and rice is a good combination as the amino acids present in them, complement each other perfectly

Sambar: One of the most common dish in the South Indian cuisine, Authentic Sambar is a lentil based vegetable stew or chowder based on a broth made with spices and lentil. It is tasty, spicy and an amazing low calorie accompaniment. The spices which include turmeric, cumin, curry leaves, etc. contain a lot of antioxidants and promote a healthy mind and body in various ways. The lentil provide protein while the vegetables in the sambar act as fiber. Additionally, adding sprouts to sambar is a good idea as this helps to lower the cholesterol and provides nutrients like folate, magnesium and vitamins.

Dosas: Made from lentil and rice batter, dosas are thin, crepe like pancakes that are a essential part of South Indian cuisine. Some of the major nutritional benefits of dosa are as follows:

Calorie and fat content: Dosas are healthy because they are low in calories and fat. An 86 gram serving of dosa contains only 162 calories which is very less compared to the daily recommendation of 2,000 gram. Additionally, they also contain very less saturated fat (2 grams) which is a good thing as saturated fat increases the risk of heart diseases. According to the American Heart Association, saturated fat should be restricted to about 16 grams per day so that the risk of heart disease is decreased effectively.

Protein: Dosas are relatively high in protein, as it contains 5 grams in each 86 serving. This amount is 1 gram less than the protein amount found an egg provides, but is 0.5 gram more than what a normal pancake would provide. Protein is extremely important in the human body as it helps to build muscle and may help you to reduce weight if you consume a reduced calorie diet.

Besides, these three dishes, the menu of a South Indian restaurant contain a number of dishes like rice, various types of vada, utthapam and desserts. These food item are aimed at making your meal experience not just enjoyable and tasty but nutritious and healthy as well. Further with so many South Indian restaurants that are gaining immense popularity across the country, enjoying a South Indian meal is now a very easy and convenient affair.


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