States included : Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu and Kerala.
Geographical and cultural influence on the regions cuisine: South India has hot, humid climate and all its states are coastal. Rainfall is abundant and so is the supply of fresh fruit, vegetables and rice. Andhra Pradesh produces fiery Andhra cuisine which is largely vegetarian yet has a huge range of seafood in the its coastal areas. Tamilnadu has Chettinad cuisine, perhaps the most fiery of all Indian food. This style too is largely vegetarian.
From Kerala comes Malabari cooking, with its repertoire of tasty seafood dishes. Hyderabad is home of the Nizams (rulers of Hyderabad) and regal Nizami food rich and flavorful with tastes ranging from spicy to sour to sweet. Hyderabadi food is full of nuts, dried fruits and exotic, expensive spices like Saffron.
Style of food: By and large, South Indian cuisine is perhaps the hottest of all Indian food. Meals are centered around rice or rice-based dishes. Rice is combined with Sambaar (a soup-like lentil dish tempered with whole spices and chillies) and rasam (a hot-sour soup like lentil dish), dry and curried vegetables and meat dishes and a host of coconut-based chutneys and poppadums (deep-fried crispy lentil pancakes). South Indians are great lovers of filter coffee.
Staple foods: No South Indian meal is complete without rice in some form or other either boiled rice or Idlis (steamed cakes made from rice batter), Dosas or Uttapams (pancakes made from a batter of rice and lentil flour). Daals (lentils) are also a part of most meals.
Cooking oils commonly used: Coconut oil is most commonly used for cooking and frying. Vegetable oils like sunflower and canola are also used and ghee is poured over rice during daily meals or in special occasion dishes.
Important spices and ingredients: Curry leaves, mustard, Asafetida, pepper and peppercorns, tamarind, chillies and fenugreek seeds.
Popular dishes: Idlis, Dosas, Vadas, Sambaar, Uttapams, Rasam, Payasam....