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There’s ‘unity in diversity’ in our foods too

It is not wrong if one says that Indian cuisine has surpassed all other cuisines with its exquisite array of dishes from all over the country. You can never really say that you have tried it all because every region has so many local dishes that the list becomes never-ending. But, there are still some dishes which are quite similar to each other when it comes to regional flavours. And this is just about the right time to throw some light on these. We are nearing the holy festivals, Makar Sankranti, Pongal and Lohri, also celebrated by other names pan India. So, we thought of bringing you some dishes that are alike in their nature, yet, so distinctive from each other.


Here’s what we’ve got from the length and breadth from apna bharat. Maybe, this year, you switch your festive dishes with the ones that are popular in other regions. Try, it surely will be fun!


Wheat or Rice – you pick!

The major difference between the cuisines is the amount of wheat and rice used while prepping the traditional dishes. Now, South India has rice in abundance since it’s their staple crop. They have extreme love for rice based dishes like dosa, appam, paniyaram, idlis, etc. Similarly, North Indians cannot go a day without wheat. Staple breads like naan, phulka, parantha, kulcha and more, literally everything is made of wheat.

It’s all about the vegetables!

Talking of versions of mixed vegetables, these might not be a 100% similar, but, still close enough. Avial can be counted as one of the most popular dishes from Kerala – a delicious mix of seasonal vegetables cooked with yogurt and a South Indian essential, coconut. Its North Indian counterpart would be the medley of vegetables cooked in masaledaar gravy, just as desirable! Try both this festive season and decide which one’s your favourite.

Aur meethe mein…

The rich and creamy delicacy of South, Pal Payasam is very similar to the North Indian kheer, which is a favourite in many other parts of India too. Both are made on special occasions or festivals and are considered as one of the most popular desserts in India. All you need is milk, rice and nuts to make sure you have a batch of these beauties ready. The major difference would be the kolam rice and jaggery used to sweeten the payasam versus the basmati rice and sugar used in the one from North India. We’ve got both for you. Which one are you going to choose?

Perfect polis for Pongal/Sankrant!

Puran Poli is a must in Maharashtra during Makar Sankrant, and the Maharashtrian make sure to make a big batch of it to serve their guests on this auspicious occasion. Thengai or Coconut Poli is prepared on the first day of Pongal in South India. Both these flatbreads are kaafi similar, apart from the bit that the ‘puran’ is a stuffing of mashed dal and Thengai has the ultimate coconut in it. To get the best of both, have them with a dollop of ghee on the top.

Chawal ka chamatkar!

We already know how beloved rice is to the South Indians. But, it’s not like North Indians love it any lesser. Biryanis, pulaos, khichdi and so much more, there are many rice dishes in the North Indian food repertoire, with different ingredients and preparation methods, making them unique. However, the closest a South Indian rice dish can get to a khichdi is the favourite Pongal, both in sweet and savoury versions, popular during the festival with its namesake. Time to give them both a try.

Don’t forget the accompaniments!

Not just main courses or mithais, condiments and accompaniments are also bhai-bhai in our regional cuisines. Like, raita and pachadi both use yogurt/dahi as the main ingredient. The difference is that pachadi is done with typical South Indian ingredients while a raita might be made of different ingredients with typical North Indian seasonings. Both are great as accompaniments and get done in a matter of minutes.

Til aur gur, tyohar ki jaan!

Jaggery (gur) and sesame seeds (til) are the two things Sankrant is absolutely incomplete without. During this time, laddoos made of these two amazing ingredients are common in every household in Maharashtra. These are also popular in North and East India. Likewise, in Karnataka, people love to eat Ellu Bella – the only difference being that this dish is not shaped in the form of a laddoo. Laddoo or no laddoo, this nutritious, festive sweet is here for you to indulge!

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.