Rallying through India is full of excitement – but it’s also tiring. Let’s face the facts: you are bound to get hungry sooner or later. Fortunately, recharging is simple in Tamilnadu: you have come to a great place to satisfy your rumbling belly, the food is simply amazing.
Tamilnadu locals have a wonderful viewpoint regarding cooking and giving food to others – they see it as a way of helping humanity. They do it out of love and care, something that you’ll notice all throughout your journey in India. Traditional food in Tamilnadu is colorful, diverse and includes dishes that are vegetarian and non-vegetarian, so all you carnivores out there can relax – you’ll be able to eat meat with meat, if you wish.
In this region, rice and lentils, accompanied by various vegetables and dairy products are the stars of the show. Sometimes, dishes feature both rice and lentils. To bring out the flavours of each meal, Tamilnadu cooks use a large variety of spices like ginger, coriander, curry,nutmeg, chilli, cloves, coconut and rosewater. To give the food a slight sour tang, Tamil chefs love to put tamarind in dishes, a legume that also has a lot of positive effects on digestion. Thanks to such a wide array of seasonings, each meal is exquisite and unlike anything you’ve ever tasted – in a scrumptious, wonderful way.
The magnificent thing about the way food is prepared lies in past times – most of the traditional dishes are made and served the same way they were hundreds of years ago. So, you can justify all of your binge eating by saying you’re basically just learning about the history of the region!
The food is usually served on a banana leaf, which is then given to the cows as food, which is another lovely concept, correlating directly with the beautiful concept of helping others.
So, let’s get down to business: what are the special Tamil dishes that you should look for? Our favorites are the following authentic Tamil meals:
Usually made with lentil and rice batter, but it can also be made with bread batter. It looks like a beautifully multicolored thick pancake (and tastes delicious, too.) You can add any number of veggies and spices to it, according to your own taste. It is the perfect breakfast, but you can also eat it for lunch.
Also called “string hopper,” it takes a long, long time to prepare. Believe this, however: it’s worth waiting for! This dish is practically the side dish of all things curry, no matter the base ingredient (fish, chicken, eggs, potatoes.) Idiyappam is usually made of rice flour, water and salt, then pressed through a special device to make the strands extra thin.
A typical street food type of dish, this flatbread is served also at large celebrations, like weddings. Its dough is kneaded and formed into thin layers and then spiraled up to form a ball. People usually eat it with all kinds of meat, like chicken or mutton, but you can find veggie varieties, too.
A dosa is a fermented pancake, made out of rice and/or lentil batter (healthy food at its finest!). Kari Dosai, on the other hand, is an even better version of these crêpes: the chefs add meat and cook it with the dosa. The result? An amazingly thin and tasty pancake with a twist of flavor from the meat… seriously addictive!
Can be sweet or savoury, but we are in love with the sweet version! This dish has a long history, and is embedded in tradition; each January, the people of Tamilnadu celebrate Pongal. It is a harvest festival where they give thanks for a good year of crops and to the bullocks in the fields that have helped with gathering food for the town. It is mainly during this time that the Pongal dish is made by boiling rice and milk together with a bit of brown sugar. They usually also add cashews or raisins to the mix. Forget macarons and cronuts, Pongal is the new dessert celebrity!