Ayurveda, India’s age old medical science, classifies food into sattvic (goodness), rajasic (passion) and tamasic (ignorance) modes. The use of onions and garlic is especially prevalent in North Indian cooking, which has been heavily influenced by the Moghuls who ruled India between 1526 to 1761.
But, even today traditional South Indian vegetarian cuisine is probably one of the most prominent foods that hardly uses onions and garlic and even to this day if you visit an orthodox South Indian household you will find many dishes prepared without them (also, if you visit any strict vegetarian Buddhist,Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese or Japanese restaurants around the world, you are most likely to find any members of the allium family missing from the food).
We as a family, love sattvik meals and on a sunday afternoon, when I was lunching at “Dakshin” at the ITC Maratha, which happens to be a favourite with me and Ro for a long time now, the server brought in a succulent dish “manga curry” (a curry prepared with mangoes in season) specially sent by the chef for me to try, apart from our usual staples of Iyer’s trolley (consisting of a variety of miniature dosas), appam, vegetable stew, ennai kathrikai (a spicy eggplant curry) and biranji (vegetable biriyani).
Chef Manu Nair, a very enthusiastic and talented young chef from Dakshin restaurant at the ITC Maratha created an exhaustive spread of sattvik South Indian meal specially for DivineTaste consisting of Alvemandi Podi, a spicy savoury dish from the Saraswat community of Karnataka made with colocasia or arbi served with a spicy chili chutney called Korivikaram Chutney from Andhra Pradesh, Kalan, a Keralan dish made with raw bananas and yam and cooked in a mild coconut gravy, Pumpkin Erissery, another exotic traditional Keralan dish, Olan made with black eyed peas and white gourd, something that I really relished, Tindli Bibo Upkari, a Saraswat Brahmin dish from Karnataka made with tendli or ring gourd (known to be a favourite of the cricket maestro Sachin Tendulkar and also a dish which originates from his community), Tarkari Padartha, a vegetable dish in a mildly spiced tomato and cashew gravy, Menaskai, spicy sweet dish from Udupi in Karnataka, Manga Curry, a country style ripe mango and coconut curry, Parippu Kootan, a festive Dal from Kerala and tropical dry fruit payasam, a sweet dish from the temples of Tamil Nadu!
Chef Manu who comes from a family of engineers and bankers, faced a lot of opposition from his family but still chose to follow his heart and become a chef! The cuisine of the 4 South Indian states is so vast with a number of regional variations to each state.
In order to recreate the magic of many of these dishes at home, I’m including the recipes from Chef Manu’s kitchen at the ITC Maratha, Mumbai. 1)      Wash the arbi, peel it and allow it to boil with salt, tamarind and turmeric powder. 4)      Coat it with rawa (semolina) and press firmly to ensure that rawa is evenly coated. Served during a traditional sadhya, this festive dal is a great variation to the simple dal and adds zing to a meal. 1. Boil milk in a handi, add sugar, cardamom powder and rice flour to it and allow the milk to thicken and reduce. What a delicious spread!!The alvamande phodi and tendli bibbe upkari which is regular Konkani fare looks so spectacular.Thanks for such a wonderful visual treat!
I am lucky to read this post and get my hand on recipes of such rare, exotic, traditional cuisines from south India! Now, I should debate and decide what dish to try first, among the drool-worthy ones you have shared here! Wow Anushruti, if I was a chef, I couldn’t have asked for a better reviewer or review. Vatsala: Onions and garlic are supposed to be rajasic and tamasic in nature and therefore not used to cook sattvik preparations. Apart from our vedic texts which forbid the use of onions and garlic in food preparations for offering to the gods other eastern philosophers also forbid the use. Deepa: Thanks for noticing the minute details and the efforts that I put in behind every post. Beautiful presentation of Dakshin sattvik south indian menu, one of the best from rest internet reviews. I just adore your blog, so many interesting recipes and the pictures of the food are really so divine! Years ago I was so surprised to find that milk and milk products cause pain and suffering cows. I often read blogs such as vaishali’s holy cow, vegan dad, fat free vegan and India vegan for tips , ideas and recipes. Thanks again for posting many vegan recipes, which is good not only good for our health, but also for our environment. Sattvik: When cashews are soaked and blended and cooked they become less heating to the body and the amount of cashews going inside a body would be just a few tablespoons. Another question: someone upthread rightly pointed out the miserable treatment of dairy animals, and you agreed and said you only purchased from reputable dairies which treat their animals well. Can you please share which these dairy farms are, and how you have determined they do not illtreat the animals? I am sure many people would appreciate the information, and if this awareness spreads, then other operations will also follow suit.


I enjoy going through your website, more so because it is one of the few which give recipes which are not just vegetarian, but also omit onion and garlic. What’s up, after reading this amazing paragraph i am also happy to share my familiarity here with colleagues. Indian food is different from rest of the world not only in taste but also in cooking methods. Food in the north India, to begin with, Kashmiri cuisines reflect strong Central Asian influences. But on the other hand states like the Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh show high consumption of chapatis as staple food.
In the states like Maharashtra, the food is usually a mix of both north as well as south cooking styles. In Goa, that is further down towards south, one can notice Portuguese influence in the cooking style as well as in the dishes. In the southern India, the states make great use of spices, fishes and coconuts, as most of them have coastal kitchens.
The cooking style of Andhra Pradesh is supposed to make excessive use of chilies, which is obviously to improve the taste of the dishes.
In Kerala, some of the delicious dishes are thelamb stew and appams, Malabar fried prawns, Idlis, Dosas, fish molie and rice puttu. South Indian Food RecipesSOUTH INDIAN FOOD RECIPESThe main ingredient of andhra pradesh, karnataka, kerala and tamilcoconut. Foods in the mode of goodness or sattvik foods are said to be without meat, fish, eggs, alcohol, caffeine, onions and garlic.
The iconic South Indian vegetarian classic cookbook Samaithu Paar or the English version “Cook And See”, published in the 1950‘s, considered the pioneer of starting the trend of publishing cookbooks in India and still known as a bible for young brides and for those who want to learn the nuances of South Indian vegetarian cuisine has a total of 350 dishes in it. When the chef came in to have a word at the end of our meal, I thought that although I don’t do restaurant reviews here, I must share with you at times, the food I eat outside apart from the dishes that emerge from my kitchen. Appams, steamed rice, podis or dry chutney powder and the signature Dakshin pappadams completed the menu. The ITC hotels place a lot of emphasis on food in their restaurants and great attention is given to the quality and consistency of food throughout their restaurants across many cities. Post the extensive shoot when we were in conversation, Aishwarya from the hotel management pointed out that it is families who carry on the traditions of the many cuisines around the world and in most cases, one family member would have influenced a chef to don the apron and cook up a storm. You could also reserve a table (+91 28303030) to experience and savour many traditional south Indian delicacies from the menu at the Dakshin, ITC Maratha, Mumbai. They are known to have several health benefits, no doubt but their side effects are also proven in some studies. Tsang-Tsze described the Alliums as the “five fragrant or spicy scented vegetables”—that each have a detrimental effect on one of the following five organs—liver, spleen, lungs, kidneys, and heart. It will do her body, mind and intellect a great deal of good and you will reap the benefits as you watch her grow. And cashews are used as a substitute to onions in the recipe here and cashews are anyday an acceptable substitute to onions in sattvik cooking.
Though I am not completely averse to it, at home, the food we prepare usually does not have onions and garlic (most gujarati brahmins, vaishnav and jain families do not have onion and garlic).
In Kashmir, mostly all the dishes are prepared around the main course of rice found abundantly in the beautiful valley.
Again, these chapatis are prepared with a variety of flours such as wheat, rice, maida, besan etc. Some of the major dishes of this region are the sweet and sour Vindaloo, duck baffad, sorpotel and egg molie etc. In the foods of Tamil Nadu use of tamarind is frequently made in order to impart sourness to the dishes. It might surprise you that only 5% of these dishes have onions and garlic in them with the word optional mentioned in the brackets for those recipes which happen to use them.


The other favourites were olan which was such a simple curry and with hot rice was a great comfort food for me and the kerala style dal.
And that is why you are likely to taste the same chutney or appam at Dakshin in ITC Windsor, Bangalore (known as Windsor Manor way back in the 80’s which used to be my childhood favourite) like the Dakshin in Mumbai.
In Chef Manu’s case, it was his grandmother’s exceptional cooking that stirred up the emotions in him to follow his passion and he says that it is she who inspires him to this day.
The beauty of these dishes, unlike other hotel menus are that most of them are cooked and eaten at home and have a history and tradition attached to them. Such a delicious spread, such beautiful photos, so much of information and of course, the recipes. I am always trying to cook and eat food which is good for my body and mind, and this was a real eye opener! Cashews are very hot in property so need to be delicately used.What kind of dry round red chilies are used for end tempering? I agree that the quantity of cashews used in the recipe for homestyle cooking maybe a little too much so you can reduce or omit them altogether. I like to stick to traditional vedic style of cooking and many of them use dairy as a lot of emphasis is given to milk and milk products in ancient cooking. When making a choice of the restaurant to have the authentic Indian cuisines one should be well informed of the different Indian main meals and desserts. Most of my friends are unable to comprehend how anyone can prepare majority of foods without adding the two. Just like Indian culture, food in India has also been influenced by various civilizations, which have contributed their share in its overall development and the present form. But one must not forget that every single spice used in Indian dishes carries some or the other nutritional as well as medicinal properties. Besides chapatis other closely related breads baked in these regions include Tandoori, Rumaali and Naan etc. Yet another dish is Puttu, which is glutinous rice powder steamed like a pudding in a bamboo shoot.
And I thought what better place to start with than the Dakshin at the ITC Maratha, a hotel which Ro and I have been visiting right from its inception.
The payasam made with mangoes and garnished with dry fruits was the perfect end to this grand meal.
Likewise for their famous dal bukhara which is supposed to taste the same at ITC Maurya in Delhi or Chola in Chennai. I have also been following your blog for a long time now (your droolworthy photographs in particular make it hard not to!). Usually restaurant reviews are about the spread and very rarely about these talented people.. Please re-read recipe, it sure needs some corrections.When recipes are given by top five star chefs, people will blindly follow without reasoning, they should have rechecked recipes before passing.
With over 75,000 pageviews a month, I have a certain duty towards my readers and a lot of efforts go into what is published here. I totally agree with you that cows are in a bad state and they are not treated as they should be or as they were in olden days where they were well tended to, happy and produced enough milk for the calves and for the families who kept them.
Guess it is similar to our western friends who are surprised with the extent of vegetarianism in India. In India, it is a little difficult to determine the authenticity of dairies but there are a few people who are making efforts in this direction.



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