Features of Tamil Cuisine
Tamil Cuisine is very different from the food of other regions like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. It is a delectable blend of sweet, spicy, sour and tangy flavours. The presence of Coconut is found in almost all recipes because of its abundance throughout the coastline of the state. Other major ingredients used are rice, turmeric and tamarind. A Tamil meal is traditionally served on banana leaf. Traditional Tamil cuisine ensures that each main meal should include the six tastes - sweet, sour, salt, bitter, pungent and astringent. The goal behind such idea is to provide complete nutrition, minimise cravings and balance the appetite and digestion.
Use of Spices in Tamil Cuisine
Tamil Cuisine represents Tamil people’s love and respect for food through its richness. Tamilians put special emphasis on the use of authentic ingredients to give admirable aroma and delicious taste to their foods. There are various spices that are used in Tamil dishes like ginger, garlic, pepper, nutmeg, tamarind, chilli, cumin, cardamom, coconut and curry leaves.
Delicacies of Tamil Cuisine
Since, rice is the staple food of Tamilians they focus on various side dishes that can be taken with rice. ‘Kuzhambu’, ‘Sambhar’, ‘Paruppu’, ‘Rasam’, ‘Thayir’ and ‘Kadaiyals’ are some of the side dishes that are served with rice. Further, some other side dishes like ‘Kootu’, ‘Kari’, ‘Poriyal’, pickles and papads are used to accompany such mixtures. Lentils are also used to accompany rice preparations.
In Tamil Nadu, the breakfast is known as ‘Kaalai Chitrundi’. Breakfast items comprise of ‘Idli’, ‘Pongal’, ‘Dosai’, ‘Puttu’, ‘Aval’, ‘Chapathi’, ‘Sevai’, ‘Vadai’, ‘Upma’, ‘Appam’ and ‘Uthappam’. Filter coffee is also very popular as breakfast item. There are various types of snacks that Tamil people love to munch like ‘Bhajji’, ‘Bonda’, ‘Karasevu’, ‘Murukku’, ‘Paniyaram’, ‘Sundal’, ‘Thattai’, ‘Seedai’, ‘Karapori’, ‘Pakoda’, etc. Dessert items include ‘Kesari’, ‘Payasam’, ‘Pongal’, etc.
Divisions of Tamil Cuisine
Tamil Cuisine has evolved with time. As time passed, each region of Tamil Nadu developed its own distinct variant of the common dishes. There are four divisions of Tamil cuisine namely Chettinad cuisine, Kanyakumari cuisine, Madurai cuisine and Kongunadu cuisine.
The Chettinad region is popular for dishes like ‘Appam’, ‘Idiyappam’ and non-vegetarian dishes. Madurai and other southern districts of Tamil Nadu are also known for non-vegetarian foods. The famous items of this region include ‘Jigarthanda’, ‘Muttaiparotta’, ‘Paruthipal’ and ‘Ennaidosai’. And the region of Kanyakumari is mostly ruled by fish curry as it is surrounded by seas all round. While dishes like ‘Santhakai’, ‘Oputtu’, ‘Kola Urundai’, ‘Thengai Paal’, ‘Ulundu Kali’, ‘Ragi Puttumavu’ and ‘Pori Urundai’ defines western Kongunadu region.