Tamil Cuisine





Tamil Cuisine comes from the most traditional state of Tamil Nadu. Tamil Cuisine includes both vegetarian and non vegetarian delights. In Tamil Cuisine, rice, pulses, lentils, spices, vegetables, tamarind and dairy products are popularly used. Here a meal is called as saapudu which consists of rice served with many curries and stews, pickles and chutneys, appalam and curd. A feast is referred as virundhu and people relish food with utmost respect in this region. Tamil Cuisine also has regional divisions like chettinadu cuisine, nanjilnadu cuisine and kongunadu cuisine to add to its glory.

Tamil Cuisine is traditionally served on a banana leaf, while food is consumed by sitting on floor and eaten with hands. Traditionally the banana leaf is laid so that the leaf tip is pointed left. Before the feast begins the leaf is sprinkled with water and cleaned by the diner himself even though the leaves are already clean. The top half of the banana leaf is reserved for curries, stews, pickles etc and the lower half is used for the rice. Rice forms the staple food of Tamil Cuisine and is consumed with variety of dishes including vegetarian and non vegetarian.

A few popular Tamil Cuisine dishes are as under:

  • choru refers to hot steamed rice
  • idli / idly refers to steamed rice-cakes, prepared from a fermented batter of rice and black gram served with chutneys and sambar
  • dosai refers to crepes made from a fermented batter of rice and black gram eaten with chutneys and sambar
  • vadai refers to deep fried breakfast dish made with black gram and served with chutneys and sambar
  • pongal refers to a traditional cuisine where rice is cooked in a mud pot along with water and milk until the boiling liquid forms viscous frothy bubbles that rise above the pot. it is made in two variants where salt version is called plain pongal and sweet sugar / jaggery version is called as chakra pongal
  • paniyaram refers to a dish made with similar batter used to make dosai, which is poured into pan with small pits and cooked well
  • appam refers to a dish made from a fermented batter of rice and black gram mixture, which is made into a thin consistency. It is poured over a hot pan and spread evenly by rotating the pan. Appam generally has its sides thin and the center is fluffy and soft
  • uthappam refers to a dosai variety, which is slightly thick, fluffy, and soft made from regular idli / dosai batter. Plain uthappam is available, along with a type of uthappam’s with vegetables or onions sprinkled over
  • upma refers to a breakfast dish made from wheat / rava, onions, green chillies, pepper and salt
  • puttu refers to a steamed layered, cylindrical cakes made with flour which is sparsely mixed with water and packed into puttu cylinder and steamed. The flour is usually layered with grated coconut
  • kozhukkattai refers to steamed dumplings made with rice flour and have a sweet filling inside
  • sevai / idiyappam refers to rice noodles made out of steamed rice cakes
  • sambar refers to a lentil based vegetable stew cooked with a tamarind broth and freshly grounded spices
  • kootu refers to a stew of vegetables / greens made with lentils, spices which makes for a side dish of a meal consisting of rice, sambar and rasam
  • aviyal refers to a stew of vegetables with fresh coconut, coconut oil which makes for a side dish of a meal consisting of rice, sambar and rasam
  • koozh / kanji refers to a rice porridge
  • puliyodarai refers to a rice dish which is a mixture of fried tamarind paste and cooked rice. The tamarind paste is fried with sesame oil, asafoetida, fenugreek powder, dried chilly, groundnuts, split chickpea, urad dal, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves, turmeric powder and seasoned with light jaggery and salt
  • meen kozhambu refers to a fish curry made with whole of chillies, tamarind which is hot and sour
  • kulambu refers to a form of sambar which is a gravy preparation with base of tamarind, tuar dal and urad dal
  • rasam refers to a lentil soup dish made with tomatoes, pepper, coriander and cumin seeds
  • muttaikose poriyal refers to a simple vegetarian side dish made with stir-fried cabbage, mustard seeds, some roasted lentils and fresh coconut
  • payasam refers to a sweet dessert dish made of milk, rice, cardamom with jaggery or sugar
  • murukku refers to a savory dish made with rice flour which is deep fried
  • santhakai / sandhavai refers to a noodle kind of dish made of rice
  • oputtu refers to a sweet tasting pizza like dish that is dry outside with a sweet stuffing inside
  • thengai paal refers to sweet hot milk made of jaggery, coconut and cotton seeds
  • ulundu kali refers to a sweet made out of jaggery, gingelly oil and black gram
  • kachayam refers to a sweet dish made with jaggery and rice
  • parotta refers to a flat bread made of flour
  • muttai parotta refers to a flat bread made with scrambled egg
  • karidosai refers to a variety of dosai dish made with mutton stuffing
  • jigarthanda refers to a sweet drink made with milk, almond, sarsaparilla root syrup, sugar and ice cream