From simple Upma’s, Appalam to sensational Idli’s, Dosa’s, Idiyappam’s, along with some special gravies and chutneys, the cuisine of Tamil Nadu is widely known across the globe for its brilliant variety of delicacies.
When talking of Tamil cuisine, Chettinad food strikes our mind first. Since Chettinad cuisine is like a supermarket for the senses, there’s also an old saying in South India that one is lucky to eat like a Chettiar. But what makes it so special? Who are these Chettiar’s? Read below the tasty story!
What is Chettinad?
Literally translates to the land of chettiars in Tamil. Chettiars are otherwise called as Nagarathars – were a small community of traders, merchants, and bankers who lived in Poompuhar, Kaveripatnam under the Chola kingdom. Due to great floods in the 8th century, they resettled in the Karaikudi region.
Below are the 10 reasons why Chettinad cuisine is liked by all.
1) Food is not spicy
Generally regarded as very spicy food, Chettinad food is often milder with a blend of different spices.
Chettinad cuisine uses coriander seeds more than chilies in its recipes so that the food is spicy is completely a misnomer.
2) Uses of Spices
Chettinad cuisine is loaded with spices. Pepper, Cumin, Fenugreek, Fennel seeds, Turmeric, Tamarind, Kalpasi (stone flower), Maratti Mokku (Dried flower pods) are widely used.
3) A touch of Asian flavors
Since the Chettiars have traveled to many countries such as Ceylon, Burma, Vietnam, they have inherited their cuisines too.
Chettiars sun-dry their meats, vegetables, brine pickles to preserve for longer periods.
4) The “Odd Rule”
Chettiars are superstitious in nature so there will always be an odd number of dishes in a Chettinad thali. A classic Chettinad meal will have 7 or 11 dishes.
5) Too many dishes in one thali
It might seem a lot of food for a single person but you are actually served in small quantities thus making a wholesome balanced meal.
6) The method of serving
Meals are always served on the banana leaf and the masala is freshly grounded using a grinding stone.
7) The Idli – Dosa combination with non-veg curries
Non-veg dishes are served not with roti or naan but with Idli’s, Idiyappam’s, Adais, and appams. The mild taste of these compliments the fierceness of the curries.
8) Wide range of Veg and Non-Veg options
Mostly Chettiars consume non-veg foods only on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Fish curry, crab masala, prawn masala, sura puttu are some of their signature dishes.
One of their classic vegetarian dishes is Vazhaipoo Kozhambu in which banana flower is batter fried to resemble anchovies and served in a tamarind and shallot gravy.
9) The arrangement of food on a plate is an important custom
Each dish served occupies a designated place starting from left to right. Also, there’s a specific order in eating a Chettiar food. First, you start with paniyarams, followed by meats, vegetables, sambar rice, curd rice, and then a sweet item.
10) The food that doesn’t cause harm to our digestive system
To aid digestion and cool the body, every Chettinad meal ends with buttermilk.
Got your mouth watering? If there’s any cuisine that can not only make your stomach filled but also your heart is undoubtedly the Chettinad Cuisine. Then what to wait for? Hit up your family and dine in your nearest Chettinad restaurant to give a feast to your taste buds!