India is a large country with one of the world’s largest populations, so its culinary traditions have naturally developed a number of distinct regional variations. One can easily see the great variation present in Indian cooking simply by dividing the country into Northern India and Southern India.
These two regions differ greatly in their cooking, both in their ingredients of choice and the way their dishes are generally prepared.
One of the biggest differences between Northern and Southern Indian food is the staple grain. The culinary traditions of the south share some similarities with China and other nearby Asian countries, making use of rice for most meals. The north, on the other hand, has been more influenced by Mughlai cooking.
Their grain of choice is generally wheat. It is for this reason that naan and tandoori-style cooking is largely a specialty of the north.
Vegans and vegetarians are more likely to be drawn to Southern Indian food. North India makes more use of meat and dairy products, whereas the south has a stronger focus on vegetables and seafood.
Both Northern and Southern Indian food is known to make use of curry and other strong, spicy dishes. However, Southern India is known to be the spicier of the two. Further, comparing the dals and curries of the two regions, Southern India’s tend to have a soupier consistency than similar dishes found in the north.