Addictive World of South Indian Namkeens: A Journey of Flavours
Image Credit: Nipattu is a snack from Karnataka | Instagram - @deepakulkarni

Having spent the last six months in South India exploring its varied cuisines, I have to confess that my palate has got addicted to the flavours of the delicious south Indian dishes. The hot and spicy flavours in different textures, ingredients, and techniques used in the southern state can make you a great fan of it. Travelling from one city to another, searching for traditional dishes and cooking styles, was an enriching and flavourful experience, as the flavour journey never ends in South India.

One of these culinary layers of South Indian cuisine is its ‘Namkeens’. The crispy snacks accompany your evening tea or a chilled beer. In each southern state, the namkeen shops can be found in every prominent market and neighbourhood. A perfect partner for my bus or train journeys, these namkeens have been really helpful in satisfying my hunger and cravings, and on many days, they have complimented drinks and made the evenings more delicious.


Recipe credits - HomeCookingShow

This spiral-shaped crispy fried snack is arguably one of the most popular namkeen snacks in South India. Murukku is prepared with rice flour, urad dal flour, and some basic spices like cumin seeds, heeng, chilli powder, and sesame seeds. The dough is rolled out into spiral shapes using a specially customised apparatus called the Murukku Press or Chakli Maker, dishing out dough in the desired form, and deep fried till golden brown and crispy. Murukku can be found at all namkeen shops across South India. It comes in different styles, namely, Plain Murukku, Ribbon Murukku, Garlic Murukku, Coconut Milk Murukku, Chegodilu (Ring Murukku), Thattai Murukku etc. Murukku is prepared in most houses in Tamil Nadu during the festive season and is offered along with tea or coffee as a snack.


On the top of Chamundi Hills, overlooking the heritage city of Mysore, I was waiting for the evening lights to go on as the grand festival of Mysore Dasara had the whole city lit up in Jubilation. There came a young lady selling coffee and Nippattu, a flavourful and crispy fried snack popular in Karnataka. As the town lit up, the beauty of the Amba Palace was at its pristine best; enjoying the view with Karnataka’s delicious coffee and the perfectly spiced Nippattu made it the perfect evening.

Nippattu is similar to Murukku with rice flour, roasted gram flour and spices, and is additionally flavoured with curry leaves and peanuts for the nutty flavour. Enjoying Nippattu is a norm during the festive season, especially during the evenings with tea or coffee.

Congress Mixture

No, I am not mentioning politics here. I am mentioning the delicious namkeen mixture I got my hands on in Bengaluru, and yes, it’s called Congress Mixture. A mixture of different spiced and crunchy ingredients like peanuts, Sev, chivda, dal etc., The congress mixture is a delicious namkeen with a long history with the city of Bangalore. It is believed that during the freedom struggle, this mixture was served during the meetings and gatherings held by the congress party. And that perhaps is the only connection of this mixture with the political party. Today one can find congress mixture available at most famous bakeries and snacks shops in Bangalore; however, the Famous Iyengar bakeries of Karnataka have been serving this mixture for many decades, and it is a must-try for all the namkeen lovers.

Being fond of mixtures, I even tried the famous Kerala mixture across different cities of the state. The Kerala mixture is a tad spicier and more complex, with additional ingredients like banana chips, cashew nuts, coconut, and sometimes even some raisins to provide a sweet and spicy flavour and a variety of different textured namkeens.

Kerala Chips

Banana and jackfruit chips are very popular | Instagram - @eat_n_post


Kerala’s crunchy and spiced chips are one of India’s proud products. Banana Chips fried in coconut oil and thin and crispy jackfruit chips are famous nationwide; they are spiced with turmeric, salt, and chilli and are a favoured snack to munch along with tea. Strolling across the streets of Fort Kochi, my eyes widened, looking at a vegetable being thinly sliced right into a hot kadhai to make crisp chips, for which local patrons waited patiently to get a fresh lot. Upon enquiry, I understood it’s the Cassava or Tapioca, or as it's locally called Kappa, that’s being fried to make the indigenous Kappa Chips. I couldn’t help but taste a few warm chips, which were so delicious that I couldn’t resist buying a couple of packets.

All across South India, and many other states of India, you can find south Indian namkeen shops, especially by the name of ‘Hot Chips’. You can get numerous varieties of south Indian namkeens, fryums, appalams, boondis, mixtures, chips, spiced peanuts, dals etc. A visit to a hot chips store will acquaint you with many different south Indian snacks prepared fresh for the customers. You must try the potato chips, or the feather-light wafers, which come in plain and spiced versions.

The shapes and sizes of snacks in south India made the experience of exploring different namkeens quite enjoyable. An exciting snack I tried was Soya Katoris, which were shaped like tiny bowls. The rose cookies or the Achappams is one such unique flower-shaped crisp rice flour-based snack, influenced by the Dutch, who colonised Kerala, and thus, had their substantial touch on the local cuisine, especially the Syrian Christian communities, where cooking Achappams or the rose cookies is a norm during Christmas and marriages.

South India is rich in culinary traditions, and exploring the different South Indian states for its food introduces you to many flavours and cooking styles. The way namkeens are prepared in various forms and textures is a delight for any gastronome. I thoroughly enjoyed munching on different snacks from time to time. With evening tea, or as spicy chakna, or simply munching on it to fulfil the late-night cravings, the south Indian namkeens were a great companion for a traveller like myself, who craves good taste all the time. Cheers.

Sidharth Bhan Gupta, Founder of 361 Degrees Hospitality, is a Hospitality / Food and Beverage / Restaurant Consultant, Travelling across India on a Cultural and Culinary Exploration.