10 Foods to Make Tamil Nadu Tourism a Delicious Affair
Tamiḻakattiṟku varuka! Ētāvatu cāppiṭa virumpukiṟāyā? (Welcome to Tamil Nadu! Would you like something to eat?)
Tamil Nadu is a glorious state located at the narrow southern tip of India. It is blessed with some of the most mouth-watering and flavoursome regional cuisines. Each regional cuisine boasts of unique cooking methods and spices. These have been backed with family recipes, ancient culture and traditions, community history and external influences. There are some dishes that have made their special place in the hearts of the people and have travelled far and wide to capture many more hearts. There are many restaurants in Tamil Nadu that can make sure your Tamil Nadu tourism is a delicious and finger-licking one!
This list has to begin with the mighty dish called Sambhar. It is a lentil-based stew which has been prepared with tomatoes and/or tamarind as its base for building flavours. Whether it is for breakfast or a lavish traditional Tamilian lunch spread, Sambar is a significant part of almost every meal in Tamil Nadu and in Tamilian homes everywhere. Vegetables such as carrots, yam, drumsticks and okra are added to the pot of Sambar to make it more delicious and nutritious.
Tamarind, coconut and rice are very common ingredients used in Tamil Brahmin food. One such dish that comes from combining tamarind and rice is Puliyodarai. It is a special dish and is generally made during festivals and special occasions. First, it is offered to God as prasadam while praying in the temple and then enjoyed by people. It is really easy to prepare this tangy delicious dish and is generally accompanied with fryums or papadams.
Care for something sweet? This traditional sweet dish is made with moong dal, jaggery, coconut milk, ghee and nuts - that’s it! During summer, Paruppu Payasam is commonly prepared since moong dal is cooling for the body. It’s not overly sweet and is made using jaggery so you can enjoy a bowlful of this traditional dessert without any guilt. It tastes better when still hot.
This one is for the seafood lovers! Tamil Nadu is a coastal state and there are many cities who have the pleasure of feasting on some incredible seafood dishes. One such dish the Pollachi Nandu Fry. It is Crab Fry that is prepared using a special spice mix that goes really well with the naturally sweet flavour of the crab. Many seafood restaurants serving the South Indian cuisines include this dish on their menu but there is just something very magical in enjoying the dish in Tamil Nadu on a slightly cool day, standing at a stall and prepared by a street vendor who makes sure that the spice mix is perfect.
Rasam is a tangy, peppery broth that has been tempered with typical spices like curry leaves and mustard seeds. These are used frequently in Tamil cooking and the rest of South India. It is very different from Sambar and can be enjoyed with rice or just on its own. Rasam tastes best when its steaming hot and can be eaten any time of the year. Depending on the season, you can experiment with different lentils and ingredients (can add meat or seafood into the mix too) and enjoy this yummy Tamilian dish!
These mutton keema balls flavoured with Chettinad spices will be one of the best dishes that you will eat in Tamil Nadu. They are so flavoursome that when prepared well, there is a you will be eating them like popping candy in your mouth! The use of spices in making the deep fried appetizer is perfect and everything sings together in harmony rather than overpowering one another.
This mouth-watering dish is a specialty of the Chettiyar community of Tamil Nadu. Contrary to popular believes, there are many regional non vegetarian dishes within the broad category of Tamil food. Every region has its variations and Chettinad cuisine happens to be one of them. It is chicken marinated in yogurt, turmeric, a variety of spices such as poppy seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds, and other flavour add ons. It can be prepared in a dry or gravy style and is enjoyed with either steamed rice or a rice flour paratha.
A meal in South India is complete when you enjoy a cup of Filter Kaapi (filter coffee) afterwards. It is customary in South Indian homes to offer a cup of Filter Kaapi to guests before and after a meal. The coffee is brewed in a special metal device that resembles two cylindrical cups. If given the chance, you need to watch how the coffee is made and what makes it so frothy while serving.
In Tamil, Pongal means ‘bubbling up’ and it’s a very special dish of Tamil Nadu. The main ingredients in Pongal are rice, milk, moong dal (sometimes) and other regional additions. There are four variations of pongal that you can enjoy in the state - Venn Pongal, Puli Pongal (made with tamarind), Sakkarai Pongal (made with jaggery) and Melagu Pongal (made with black pepper). Tamil Nadu’s main festival also goes by the same name. It is a harvest festival and as a manner of celebration, women in Tamil Nadu gather in a social space and prepare the sakkarai pongal in clay pots.
These crispy savoury snacks are perfect for tea (or coffee) time! Murukku means ‘twisted’ in Tamil and refers to the spiral, twisted shape of the friend item. It is made with a combination of rice flour and urad dal flour mixed with water, salt, red chilli powder, asafoetida and either sesame seeds or cumin seeds. This is kneaded into a dough, twisted into spirals and deep fried till they are crispy and golden brown. There are even sweet, meat and seafood variations of murukkus!
With the choices of restaurants in Tamil Nadu, one thing is for sure - you are in for good food that makes your heart, soul and tummy very happy! Whether you want to enjoy authentic Tamil meals, try some unique regional variations, stick to your comfort food that is probably another state’s cuisine or dig into a bowl of Western flavours, you can have it all in the diverse state of Tamil Nadu!
Related Article: Things to Do When You Are in Tamil Nadu in 2022
Sorting you out with a comfortable stay at one of the Club Mahindra Tamil Nadu Resorts! You have five of these Tamil Nadu resorts to pick from, each one snuggled into picture-perfect corners of nature and offering the best services and amenities. You can relax and indulge in the different activities within the resort and at the tourist destinations located at an arm’s length. Tamil Nadu tourism at its best!
Best Time to Visit Tamil Nadu: No doubt, December to March is the best time to visit Tamil Nadu. If you are travelling from overseas, you may not be able to bear the heat and humidity surging through the state during the summer months of April to June. But if you are looking to explore the hill stations then the best time to visit Tamil Nadu will be during the hot weeks. Tamil Nadu tourism is all about the things to do and places to visit in Tamil Nadu during winter in India. There are about 33,000 temples to explore in Tamil Nadu and which greatly contribute to Tamil Nadu tourism so you will need good weather to go from one temple to another!
How to Reach Tamil Nadu: Your guide to Tamil Nadu tourism is incomplete without proper travel options. You can travel to Tamil Nadu by bus, car, flight and train. There are private and government buses that connect important cities to different parts of Tamil Nadu. Keeping Chennai as the focal point, numerous cities of India connect to Tamil Nadu via the railway system and it takes about 24-36 hours to reach this state of South India, depending where you are travelling from. There are also domestic and international flights plying to and from Chennai and other cities of Tamil Nadu.
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