Our Tamilnadu is a homeland of natural resources, heritages, besides the fragrant traditional cooking too. Every part of Tamilnadu is following the different cooking practices, here the cuisine and cooking is completely changing in every 100kms. Tamil cooking is well dignified by the use of secret and traditional masalas and abundant use of homegrown spices in cooking. In Tamilnadu, people give more attentions to their food what they are preparing at the time of festivals. The prepared food replicated the mood of festivals as well as the culture of people. Our cooking is praised around the globe due to the authenticity what we keeps in our cooking so far.
We are assumed that South Indian foods are not only Idli and Sambhar. South Indian cuisine catches the prime attraction among foreigners those who are visiting to South India. Dosa and Idli boarded their flight to USA, UK and many more other countries. Normally the foreigners are not fond of rice based fermented food, but today they enjoy to eat Idli, dosa, appam and many of our South Indian food items.
Ancient Tamil cuisine is the cooking between 3BC – 15BC, the Tamil sangam works like Perupanachupadai, Chirupanachupadai, Purananuru, Tholkapiyam, Kurunthogai, Pathichupathu etc., widely described the food and food habits of the ancient people. Sangam literatures clearly described the food that had been served in the laymen house and also the Kings palace in those days. Ancient times the South India was divided by chera, chola and pandya kingdoms. The ingredients what we are using now for our cooking was not available on those days cooking practice. The food culture had been transformed as per the land where they were dwelled. According to the Chirupanachupadai, a Tamil work, Raja Annam is the higher quality rice, this rice is used to bartering the products.
Sangam literature stated the course wise serving of food. The practice of eating food in course wise passed to European countries through our practices (Phrases on Kurunthogai). In sangam days, meat and alcoholic drinks like “Somabhanam” served to the courtyard poets. Those days, there were no restrictions to taste the meat and alcoholic drinks. Kuzhambu / Kalavai, Salna / Stew, Sambhar, Medu Vada, Dosa etc., were present in olden days in different shape and taste which were cooked with available items.
In king’s house there had been 160 varieties of dishes served for a single meal, 82 cooks worked in the king’s kitchen. In Maharaja’s kitchen, the series of secret recipes were so dear to the official kitchen. The recipes drafted on kings head cooks secret code. Histories noticed that the kitchen of Maharaja’s was famous for its exquisite and elaborate recipes.
Onion, Tomatoes, green chilly, garlic, cloves, refined oil, sugar etc., were not available in sangam age. Today we can’t imagine the cooking without the above said ingredients and sweets without sugar. Peppercorns, coriander seeds, Black Jaggery, Tender coconut, Honey, ginger, Turmeric, Tamarind, Mustard seeds, ghee are the ingredients used on early days. In 15 & 16th century, many ingredients were introduced for the cooking through trade. After the introduction of groundnut oil in Vijayanagara dynasty that produced more deep fried foods. Temples play the active role for the evolution of food. Through the wake up of Bhakthi movements there had been the tremendous changes in the Tamilian food customs.
India has many cuisines to offer but our Tamil food is the premiere cuisine. Even the famous biriyani had its origin in South India, not from anywhere. According to Tamil works Pathichupathu and Purananuru which vastly describes the food and fermentation method done in ancient days. This Tamil works says that the warriors / soldiers were feeded with “Oonthuvaiadishil” or “Oonsoru” (Oon means meat) by the King before they were going to warfront and also the biriyani were served to soldiers whenever there were victories at war.
After we know our ancient Tamil cuisine through this script, we shall persuade our ancestors are great in cooking and their masterpiece in cooking should not be forgotten at any time.
Hope you are happily read… See you in next post…