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Vietnamese Food Vs. Southern Indian Food: What’s The Difference?

Vietnamese food and Indian food have quickly become popular cuisines in the world.

But what about the regional cuisine in the south of India? How different are Vietnamese food and Southern Indian food? Let’s find the answer in this article.

What is special about Southern Indian food?

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My Two Souths: Blending the Flavors of India into a Southern Kitchen
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  • Hardcover Book
  • Gomez, Asha (Author)

Indian food is a diverse cuisine with different regional cultures.

Southern Indian food is one of them with its own ways of cooking, flavor profile, and signature dishes.

It has been influenced by the spice trade with Portugal and Southeast Asia, which you can taste in dishes like vindaloo and masala dosa.

In Southern India, many households have their own backyard gardens where they grow vegetables to use in curries and sambar.

This allows for variety that you don’t see in other cuisines.

There are also a lot of vegetarian options that allow people who want to eat meatless meals to still enjoy this cuisine.

The south of India has great access to many oceans and seas, therefore, their diets are heavily based on seafood rather than a lot of meat like in other inland regions.

There are also other Indian staples like curries, naan bread, or rice in this region.

They traditionally serve their food in small portions on banana leaves.

What is special about Vietnamese food?

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The Slanted Door: Modern Vietnamese Food [A Cookbook]
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  • Hardcover Book
  • Phan, Charles (Author)

Vietnamese food is a complex and flavorful cuisine.

Vietnam’s unique geography and climate have helped create such an eclectic mix of flavors and spices that you will never get tired of it! Vietnamese cuisine varies by region, so there are different dishes for each season.

Vietnamese cuisine has been influenced by Chinese, French, and other Asian cuisines due to the proximity in geographic location and colonial time.

Rice, noodles, and banh mi are what can be served in every meal as their main carb options.

Vietnamese food has endless possibilities because they eat different kinds of meat, such as pork, beef, chicken, duck, rabbit, goat, buffalo, even rat, or snake.

Seafood is also widely popular in coastal areas and is transported between regions so ingredients from any food group can be found anywhere in Vietnam.

Vietnamese spices are relatively simple, with salt, pepper, sugar, and fish sauce being dominant.

However, they focus on using fresh herbs to garnish and enhance the flavor of their dishes.

Some popular herbs like coriander, culantro, Thai basil, Vietnamese coriander, fish mint, peppermint, Vietnamese balm, or perilla are often used to eat raw in spring rolls or sour soups.

What are the differences between Vietnamese food and Southern Indian food?

Now, let’s compare Vietnamese food and Southern Indian food in some key criteria:

Southern Indian food uses a lot more spices, while Vietnamese food features fresh herbs

Southern Indian food is reputed for being very spicy.

The reason is they use a lot of spices, such as cumin, coriander, chili pepper, cinnamon, turmeric, garlic, ginger, cardamom, or garam masala to season their dishes.

Meanwhile, Vietnamese marinate and season their food simply with fish sauce, salt, sugar, and pepper.

They focus on using fresh herbs instead, which provide a pungent flavor without being too hot.

Vietnamese food contains a lot more kinds of meat, while Southern Indian cuisine offers more vegetarian or seafood-based dishes

Another difference between Vietnamese food and Southern Indian food is their meat options.

In Vietnam, if you are not a vegetarian, eating what kind of meat literally just comes down to personal preference because there is no diet restriction by any religion.

People mainly eat pork, beef, chicken, duck, or goat, rabbit, snake, frog, rat, and even cat.

On the other hand, in the south of India, there are more seafood dishes or vegetarian options from lentils.

Pork and beef are forbidden across the country due to the belief of Hindus and Muslims.

Naan bread and curries dominate Southern Indian cuisine, while Vietnamese enjoy noodle soups a lot

In Southern Indian cuisine, people eat naan bread and curries a lot.

These staples are served in almost every meal in every family.

Rice also plays an important role in this region.

Meanwhile, in Vietnamese cuisine, besides rice, they also have plenty of delicious recipes for noodle soups.

Pho is a national and very popular dish in Vietnam and even throughout the world.

What are the similarities between Vietnamese food and Southern Indian food?

Despite many differences between Vietnamese food and Southern Indian food, the two cuisines also share some similarities, as mentioned below:

Rice and seafood are staples in Vietnamese cuisine and Southern Indian cuisine

Vietnamese diets are very diverse with food from different groups.

They tend to change the menu frequently or combine both meat and seafood in one meal so that every member won’t get bored of one thing as well as get different nutrients from a variety of ingredients.

Even the inland provinces can have access to fresh seafood or freshwater species like fish, shrimp, eels, or frogs.

Rice plays an important role in both Vietnamese and Southern Indian cuisines.

They serve rice in every meal, steamed or stir-fried with other ingredients.

In the south of India which is close to the sea and ocean, seafood is also an integral part of their diets.

Vietnamese and Southern Indians both serve their food in banana leaves

Although regular Vietnamese meals are often served on a round metal tray, many regions in the countryside also make use of banana leaves as a tray to contain food, which is similar to how Southern Indians traditionally serve their dishes.

Both cuisines make use of fresh ingredients

Another similarity between Southern Indian food and Vietnamese food is that they are made from fresh ingredients.

Vietnamese and Indians are not likely to use canned food like canned stock, broth, meat, or fish, which are very preferred in American cuisine.

All their ingredients are bought from local markets when everything is sold raw or fresh rather than being frozen and processed.

Which one is better?

Product ComparisonThe Slanted Door: Modern Vietnamese Food [A Cookbook]My Two Souths: Blending the Flavors of India into a Southern Kitchen
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When it comes to these two popular cuisines, there are many differences in ingredients and spices used that can have a big impact on the flavor profile of their dishes.

Both offer delicious food and choosing which cuisine is better will depend on your personal preference.

If you want to experiment with both Vietnamese and Southern Indian food, there are always great sources of authentic recipes on the internet for you to try.

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