Rice is the major staple food of most of the Tamil people. Lunch or Dinner is usually a meal of steamed rice, served with sambar, dry curry, rasam, kootu and thayir (curd, but as used in India refers to yogurt) .
Breakfast usually includes idli, pongal, dosai, aval or poha, puttu, idiyappam, appam with sweetened coconut milk, chapathi, sevai, vadai along with coconut chutney, sambar and milagai podi. Tiffin is usually accompanied by hot filter coffee which is the signature beverage of the city.
Over a period of time, each geographical area where Tamils have lived has developed its own distinct variant of the common dishes in addition to dishes native to itself. The four divisions of ancient Tamilakam are the primary means of dividing Tamil cuisine.
The Chettinad region which serves dishes like idiyappam, uthappam, paal paniyaram and non-vegetarian dishes made primarily using chicken.
Madurai, Tirunelveli and the other southern districts of Tamil Nadu are known for non-vegetarian food made of mutton, chicken and fish. Parota made with all-purpose flour.
Nanjilnadu (Kanyakumari district) region is famous for its fish curry since the region is surrounded by the three great water bodies of Asia.
The western Kongunadu region has special dishes using ragi, coconut and jaggery.
For a North Indian like me, South Indian Cuisine referred to Idli, Dosa, Vada, it is much later in life I realized that this cuisine has much more to it.Though most restaurants use the south Indian cuisine or the name "madras" in the name, there is a marked difference between the cuisines, preparations and ingredients in different regions. An udipi restaurant, andhra restaurant, a kerala or a chettinad restaurant have different preparations and speciality.
For today I have cooked Vada Curry which was suggested by my daughter, she gave me the recipe and I confirmed from Valli, after getting a green signal I made this dish.Valli told me that originally when they had left over vadas in the restaurants they started using them in gravy and that is how this dish originated..but wait..I made fresh vadas to dunk them in curry and my hubby loved the dish.This curry is normally served with dosas,
1 cup channa daal, soaked for 3 - 4 hours
1 small piece cinnamon stick
2 whole red chilly
Small piece ginger
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup coriander leaves, chopped
Salt to taste
Grind the channa daal coarsely with minimum water .
Add the pounded ingredients,onion, coriander leaves and salt.
Mix well and make small rounds, flatten them and deep fry to a golden.
2 bay leaves
Small piece cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
1 whole red chilly
1/2 tsp ginger paste
1/2 tsp garlic paste
1 onion, chopped finely
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red chilly powder
Salt to taste
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup coconut milk
Heat oil, add whole spices.
Add onion, ginger and garlic, sauté
Add the dry spices and sauté.
Add tomatoes, cook till the moisture evaporates.
Add coconut milk and water till you get a desired consistency.
Break the prepared vada sand add to the gravy, let boil for a minute.
Serve hot with dosas or idlis.
Curry leaves Chutney
1/2 cup curry leaves
1/4 cup coconut, grated
1 tsp tamarind
1/2 tbsp urad daal
2 tsp Bengal gram
1 green chilly
Salt to taste
Roast the urad daal.
Roast the curry leaves,
Blend the following to a fine paste adding very little water.
Roasted curry leaves
1/2 tsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
After the chutney is blended temper it with mustard seeds.