Indian cuisine is thoughtful and really takes you on a ride! The use of various fruits to put a sweet note on the dish is extremely fascinating to me. It's not a novel concept, though. Combining sweet and savoury elements is often seen in traditional cooking. In Parsi cuisine, the sweetness of berries complements the meat in pulao. Then the Bombay biryani makes use of dried plums. And of course, pullisery, a familiar dish in Kerala, is made with ripe mangoes, yoghurt and spices. Then, there are some fruits that are rather sour and are used in Indian cooking. These are the ones we want to focus on. In this article, we are also talking a little bit about mild levels of sweetness. The reason why we don't want to talk about savoury and sweet dishes at length is that there are many debates about a lot of dishes and whether they are supposed to taste sweet. Butter chicken is one example of that. A lot of places may have started out by using tomatoes as a souring agent, but over time, decided to swap it for sweet tomatoes; this is just a theory of course. And it turns out that using tomato for sweetness is just becoming a cliche day after day. Too much has been spoken about it, anyway. 

None of this is to say that tomatoes are not an essential fruit. Along with being used as a base, it does something magical to the flavour of a dish. Talk about the popularity of the tomato gravy in curries among foodies, for instance. But the tomato works even better when it tastes sour, or is combined with a sour agent. We list an example of that here.  

Also, we would like to focus on dishes that hog the spotlight, and we would like to discuss south Indian unique and flavourful specialities. And even though you might be familiar with the names of these dishes, you might or might not have guessed that they are made using fruit. 

Another fact that we would like to point out here is that it is more common to find sour curry in Southern and western parts of India. So, if we choose sour dishes from those regions of India, that's because they are more commonly eaten there. 

Let's begin — 

1. Pandi curry  

Photo: Kitchen Bhugali

In this dish, the locals combine pork with kachampuli which brings a sour flavour to the succulent portion of meat. It is famously eaten in Coorg. Kachampuli is a vinegar which is made from a fruit known as Panapuli. It adds a distinct tart flavour to the curry, although delicious!  

2.  Chole

   

While chole is a north-Indian dish that makes use of tomatoes, we put it on this list as the use of pomegranate seeds lends a very delicious and tangy sourness to the dish.  

3.  Solkadhi

 

Solkadhi is a wonderful drink, but also a curry that is eaten with steamed rice. It is made from kokum, curry leaves and coconut milk, which makes it refreshingly sweet and sour at the same time!   

4. Kodampuli fish curry

   

Kodampuli means tamarind, which is often used as a souring agent in South Indian food. The combination of coconut, curry leaves and tamarind is the highlight of the dish.   

5. Khatti dal

   

This is a speciality from the region of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. It makes use of tamarind to add the sour taste.

Which of these dishes are you going to make?