Throughout southern India, the staple food for a family meal is fish curry, meat or vegetables with rice, plus a few pungent sambars (side dishes). A spicy meal is incomplete without soothing dal, i.e. the puree of lentils. Pickles and chutneys may be served to accompany mild flavored meals, which also aid in digestion.
South India has a high Tamil population, who follow strictly vegetarian regimes, so one finds that cooks excel at vegetable biryanis and samosa dishes. Breads differ from other parts of the country, the unleavened flat round chapatti being the most popular. Here, coconut trees grow in abundance. The milk is used extensively to add creamy richness to pork and fish curries and the coconut features importantly in desserts.