Simple South Indian meals

So, I’m originally from Bangalore, South India. You can put me anywhere in the world. While I will enjoy and explore local cuisine, I will still always love my rice, saaru, huli and palya. And a standard meal back home will always end with yogurt rice. A brief glossary for folks unfamiliar with these terms.

Saaru: That’s the word in Kannada, a South Indian language. It is also referred to as rasam. There are a few types that one can make. My personal favorites are the simpler ones – bele saaru (saaru with toor dal) and menasina saaru (with no lentils and a lot of spices). The best part about bele saaru is the kick due to asafoetida (don’t confuse with ajinomoto) or devil’s breath. It has a very unique flavor and a pinch goes a long way.

Huli: That’s the term for a simple but divine concoction of vegetables, lentils (mostly toor) and spices. It’s also called sambar.

Palya: Vegetables cooked and seasoned well. It goes well with rice and saaru/huli.

We don’t normally eat this every day. But we usually end up enjoying 1 meal a week. In case you are wondering how healthy this is, here are a few thoughts

  1. If you do eat this every day, you might want to reconsider using white rice given the carbs and high glycemic index. Also, white rice is so tasty that it’s very easy to overeat. You could switch it out with brown rice, quinoa, or any other grain with a bite.
  2. I love palya in general and usually end up with half a plate of just that. A quarter of my plate is dedicated to rice and saaru or huli.
  3. Normally, I skip curd rice to just have high protein greek yogurt, and sprinkle some more palya and saaru/huli.
  4. If you can, do include an Indian pickle or two. I can’t remember the last time I had an Indian meal without pickle. It’s a good thing I don’t have it everyday.


In my quest to change up my protein intake, it is tempting to stick with uninteresting food due to the effort involved in planning. But it is so much more fulfilling to enjoy the foods you love and spend a little extra time on planning.

I had a great lunch of saaru+white rice+chayote squash palya+greek yogurt. Oh, and of course my favorite midi uppinakaayi (baby mangoes in spice).




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s