Nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar states that the key to making intelligent food choices lies in three questions. Does the food have a name in your local language? Does it invoke happy childhood memories? And most importantly, is the food considered low profile which is not advertised or doesn’t come in packages? In simple words, the best food for our health is home cooked food prepared by our loved ones. These foods are packed with proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and zinc too. So, when it comes to boosting your immunity, our comfort foods are more than enough. So, here are 7 South Indian comfort meals to boost your immunity. There are thousands of dishes but we’ve attempted to scratch the surface.
1. Bisi Bele Bath
Medical and nutrition experts revealed that khichdi is a safe bet for Covid patients. Its easy to digest and protein-rich nature makes it a fantastic one-pot meal to help the body meet all its nutrition requirements. Karnataka’s Bisi Bele Bath is similar to khichdi. This rice-based dish known to originate from Mysore Palace is prepared with lentils, rice, vegetables and spices. Bisi Bele Bath literally translates to ‘hot lentil rice’ dish. This one-pot meal is nourishing and packed with proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Moreover, it’s super comforting, just like a home-cooked meal should be.
2. Avial With Kerala Red Rice
Avial is a traditional South Indian dish that originates from Kerala. Yet, it’s very popular in Tamil Nadu and Udupi in Karnataka as well. Interestingly, Avial draws its origins from Mahabharata. It’s believed that when Pandava, Bhima was employed as a cook in the kitchen of Virata, he didn’t know how to cook. So, he chopped up different kinds of vegetables, boiled them together and topped the dish with grated coconut. And thus, Avial was born. Literally meaning “cooked”, this dish is made of 13 local vegetables like carrots, beans, snake gourd, coconut and curry leaves. Avial feels like a warm hug on a cool day. Pair it with the nutrition-rich Kerala red rice or matta rice and your immunity will be strong as ever.
3. Curd Rice
Curd is a wonderful source of zinc. The presence of live and active cultures in curd will help stimulate your immune system and help you fight diseases. A healthy gut means a strong immune system. Curd rice, the comfort meal that every South Indian swears by has already been declared a superfood as it’s a good source of protein, calcium and has high amounts of calcium. Temper your curd rice with spices, curry leaves, pomegranate seeds, cucumber and savour it to the fullest. Thayir Sadam, Mosaranna or dahi chawal, call it as you want, but ensure you include it in your diet.
4. Chicken Stew With Appam
A warm chicken curry coupled with rice, chapati, dosa or appam is truly a food made in heaven. Poultry and eggs are rich in zinc and Vitamin B12. Zinc rich foods have immuno-nutrient properties that will help your body fight viral infections. Kerala’s Chicken Stew with Appams is just the comfort meal you’d crave to leave your body with a warm and fuzzy feeling. The chicken stew is prepared with chunks of chicken bathed beautifully in creamy coconut gravy, spiced to perfection. The appamas are paper thin on the outside and soft on the inside. You can pair appams with almost anything, but it goes great with chicken stew. While chicken is a great source of zinc, do make sure you eat it in moderation as animal-based foods are high in cholesterol and fat.
5. Rasam Rice
Our good ol’ Rasam has travelled from the kitchens of South India to the hospitals of USA. Confused? Well, a chef from Tamil Nadu prepared rasam with immunity-boosting ingredients like turmeric, garlic and ginger and served it to Covid positive patients in the USA. The South Indian staple went viral and was popularly called the ‘immunity boosting soup’. So, now you know that including Rasam in your daily diet is a wonderful way to stay healthy and boost your immunity. Prepared with tomato, turmeric, garlic and ginger, Rasam is one of the simplest yet tastiest dishes in India. Pair it with rice, add a papad and pickle, and you’re good to go.
6. Palakura Pappu With Rice
Dal rice is like a match made in heaven. There are so many types of dal you can come across all over India, and each one is as delicious as the other. If there was ever a competition for dals, it would 100 per cent be a tie. Andhra Pradesh and Telangana’s Palakura Pappu is a delicious dal that combines the goodness of spinach with the protein power of dal. Palakura Pappu means spinach dal. It’s prepared with spinach, dal, chillies, tamarind, curry leaves and spices. This dal has the right amount of spice, tanginess and all the comfort that you’d seek in a dal. Palakura Pappu goes great with rice.
7. Ragi Sangati With Natu Kodi Pulusu
Whether you call it Ragi Sangati, Ragi Mudde or Ragi Ball, this dish from South India is packed with fibre and helps lower cholesterol, diabetes and cools the body. The cost-effectiveness and its locally available nature make it a super healthy food. Ragi based dishes gained a lot of popularity as immunity boosters during the pandemic. In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, people consume Ragi Sangati with Natu Kodi Pulusu, a flavoursome chicken curry. This Rayalseema-style chicken gravy is prepared with a medley of spices like star anise and poppy seeds. The chicken, a good source of zinc and ragi, an excellent source of fibre, this wholesome South Indian comfort meal will do wonders for your body.
So, here are 7 comfort meals from South India that not only taste delicious but they are packed with immunity boosting ingredients. You can always try preparing them and travel to the backwaters of Kerala, Western Ghats of Karnataka, forests of Andhra Pradesh , lanes of Telangana and the beaches of Tamil Nadu, through these nourishing foods.