There are some who love to travel to beaches, others to the mountains. There are some who will travel for history and others to go on a shopping spree. But there are many who will travel for food. If you are happy to slot yourself into that last category, read on! South India is peppered with towns and cities that can whip up a mean meal that will have you spiralling towards a food coma. LBB explores South India’s food havens.

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Served at homestays and at big and small restaurants around the Coorg region, the food of the Kodavas is a celebration of local produce and made special with ingredients unique to the region. Take for example the famed Pandi Curry, the richly spiced dish is taken to another level with the pungency of the sour kachampuli fruit. Similarly, raw jackfruit, pumpkins, wild mushrooms and bamboo shoots feature regularly on dinner plates. Pair any or all of these with their thin-as-air akki rotis, fluffy string hoppers, or kadumbuttu {soft, rice dumplings) and you’ll have a memorable meal.

#LBB Tip: If you are travelling to the nearby town of Bylakuppe, that is home to one of the largest Tibetan settlements, do try the food establishments around the Namdroling Monastery {the main tourist attraction in town}. The small shops serve up steamed, beef momos that melt in your mouth, rich broths and a range of fried rice and noodle dishes that you are sure to lap up.

Distance from Bangalore: 243 kms {approx.}

Driving Time:  5 hours {approx.}


Seafood, meat, and veggie lovers have it great at Mangalore and its surrounding regions. At local hotels, you can settle down for a meal that includes spicy fish curries that are infused with coconut milk, seafood coated with chilli, salt and vinegar before being fried up, and plates of Neer Dosa or Kori Roti {rice crisps}.

There’s also Patrode where colocasia leaves are stuffed with a mixture of rice flour, spice or palm jaggery {for the sweet version} before being steamed and is a must-try here. Also, don’t forget to stuff your face with Mangalore buns {made from bananas} and the famous Goli Bajji {small balls of maida, gram and rice flour fried up in spices}. And, of course, for dessert there is Gudbud Ice Cream.

Distance from Bangalore: 351 kms {approx.}

Driving Time:  6 hours 30 minutes {approx.}


thalassery biriyani from malabar region of kerala

Thalassery Biryani – Photo by Sheetal

Over the centuries, the Malabar Coast has been heavily influenced by travelling traders who brought in flavours from all over the world. From Kozhikode to Thalassery, you can eat your way through this region with gusto. Like other coastal cuisines, the food here is heavy on spices and coconut. The Thalassery Biryani {made from a short, thin rice and often features chicken, mutton or fish}, Erachi Puttu {steamed rice cakes stuffed with minced meat}, subtly spiced fish curries, Beef Kurumulakittathu {tender chunks of beef cooked to a tenderness in spices and coconut oil}, and Unnakaya {slivers of banana deep fried in batter} are all on the must-eat list here.

Distance from Bangalore: 355 kms {approx.} to Calicut

Driving Time:  7 hours 45 minutes {approx.}


Famous for its backwaters and its meen curries, Alleppey has a lot to offer for the food lover. Tapioca {locally known as Kappa} is a staple here and served up in various avatars – they steam it, fry it and even add to their fish curry {a speciality in Alleppey}. Pile your plate high with rice and add ladles of their Karimeen {a freshwater fish that’s popular in these parts} Curry and pair it up with Karimeen Pollichathu {where the fish is slathered with a mix of spices before being wrapped up in banana leaves and fried}. Wash it all down with Toddy {locally prepared palm wine} or coconut water.

Distance from Bangalore: 595 kms {approx.} 

Driving Time:  10 hours {approx.}


paal payasam a sweet dish from karaikudi

Paal Payasam – Photo by Ross Thres

If you ignore the perennially hot weather, Karaikudi is a paradise of sorts. There are heritage mansions to gawk at, antiques and handloom sarees to buy, and the food is out of this world. We have spoken about the place and the sarees here and here, so let’s dedicates a few lines to the food in this post. One of the best places to sample Chettinad cuisine, Karaikudi is where you can adorn your banana leaf with meat curries heavy on pepper, and aromatic spices like star aniseed. Their mutton varuval {a dry fry}, the Meen Kuzhambu {a tangy fish curry} and their creamy Paal Payasam {a rich kheer} are all favourites here.

Distance from Bangalore: 428 kms {approx.} 

Driving Time:  7 hours 40 minutes {approx.}


The Qutb Shahis and the Nizams, who once ruled Hyderabad, may have long disappeared into the history books but their culinary legacy still lives on. Mughlai, Arabic and Turkish flavours along with typical Telugu flavours have come together to make Hyderabadi food irresistible and one of Bangalore’s favourite {given the number of Andhra restaurants that thrive here, we think that’s safe to say}. At the top of the pack is the subtly-spiced Hyderabadi Biryani where the meat is cooked till it is ready to slide off the bone. The Patthar Ka Gosht {where thin slivers of mutton are cooked on a stone that’s unique to Hyderabad}, Boti Kababs, and Haleem {where mutton and wheat are cooked together till they assume a cream consistency; the dish is a speciality during Ramadan} will all make your tummy very happy.

Distance from Bangalore: 569 kms {approx.} 

Driving Time:  7 hours 40 minutes {approx.}


Another major port along the south-west coast of India, Kochi has seen a steady troop of visitors come in and influence its cuisine. Today, the modern city’s culinary landscape showcases this blend of influences and restaurants serve up everything from traditional Keralite to Malabar, and Syrian Christian food. There’s also one restaurant {apparently the only one in the country} that serves Jewish cuisine. Appams, puttus, stews, Tharavu Roast {duck roast}, biryanis, and sadya – Kochi sure does cook up a storm!

Distance from Bangalore: 550 kms {approx.} 

Driving Time:  9 hours {approx.}


They may be Arabic in origin but the food of the Navayath community, of Bhatkal in Uttara Karnataka, surely brims over with local flavours and ingredients. The Bhatkal Biryani, a layered rice dish made with chunks of mutton and drizzled with fried onions and saffron, should be the first thing you try when you get into town. On the side, you can heap your plate with Ekshippi, a coconut-based clam curry, kukdi maas fry {chicken fry}, and sawra, a mixed vegetable dish. Desserts usually feature coconut milk and jaggery, and are made with pumpkin, plums, vermicelli, and green gram.

Distance from Bangalore: 495 kms {approx.}

Driving Time:  8 hours 35 minutes {approx.}


kothu parotta from madurai

Kothu Parotta Photo via Youtube

Borrowing heavily from the nearby Chettinad region and also influenced by ancient kingdoms that used to trade with the town {Romans, Greeks, and Sri Lanka included}, Madurai’s food is a delicious mishmash of flavours. There is the spicy Madurai biryani that is served at street stalls and spiffy restaurants. There’s also the Kothu Parotta, a flaky, layered paratha that’s minced up and wok-tossed with spices, egg and meat. Madhurai menus also boast of a line up of kuzhambus {curries infused with spices and tamarind} that feature mutton, chicken, crab and even rabbit. Need something to drink? Gulp down tall glasses of  Jil Jil Jigarthanda, a cool drink made from milk and badam resin and was first introduced to the temple town by Muslim merchants, to declare your Madurai trip a resounding success.

Distance from Bangalore: 434 kms {approx.}

Driving Time: 6 hours 50 minutes {approx.}


Dial up the heat with Rayalseema’s fiery cuisine. Liberally doused in chilli powder, the Vepudu dishes {fried chicken or prawn}, curries made with pulusu {spinach}, and the Iguru concoctions {semi-gravy dishes made with meat or vegetables} will all have you burying your nose in tissues. Team any of these up with Ragi Sangati {a ragi ball that also has rice flour in it} or a plate of Natu Kodi {country chicken} biryani and you’ll come home happy.

Distance from Bangalore: 361 kms {approx.}

Driving Time: 5 hours{approx.}

Featured image of Neer Dosa via: Pebble 101


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