Apart from a selection of Kancheepuram pattu saris, the aroma of filter coffee in davara-tumbler, spicy and tangy ‘vadu-mangai’, crispy ‘kai murukku’ and the lingering taste of vatha-kozhambu remind one of Tamil Nadu and the authentic food it offers.

From soft and fluffy ‘idlis’ to ‘pongal’, ‘sevai’ to protein rich ‘adai’, the regional delicacies include a lot of rice in the form of batter. Most of the Tamilians prefer traditional way of cooking using ammi-kal (grinding stone) as it brings out exceptional flavour in their recipes.

Tamilians use a lot of grated coconut in ‘poriyal’ (dish made of cut vegetables), ‘sambar’, ‘kootu’ and other dishes. Elaborating about the regional cuisine, Sugandhi Atmakuri of A.S. Raja Voluntary Blood Bank, who pursued her studies in Tamil Nadu says, “We (she and her mother-in-law) have lived in Tamil Nadu for more than 20 years and continue to include a lot of regional cuisine in our daily food, right from breakfast to dinner. Though you can find some of the restaurants in the city offering Tamil Nadu dishes, I still miss the place for its sumptuous yet simple vegetarian food.”

During the end of January or the first two weeks of February, the first crop of small tender mangoes is used to prepare ‘vadu managi’ or ‘mavadu’, said Mangala Gowri, mother-in-law of Dr. Sugandhi. “Many of us will also make ‘karuvadam’ (raw form of fryums) of different flavours using ash-pumpkin, sago and rice during hot weather,” she added.

Recipe of ‘adai’

Ingredients: Raw rice 1 cup, boiled rice half cup, bengal gram half cup, tur dal (kandi pappu) half cup, whole pepper corns 10, cumin seeds 1 tsp, red chillies 3, grated coconut 4 tsp, green chillies 3, ginger small piece (optional), generous amount of chopped coriander and curry leaves for the dressing and salt to taste.

Preparation: Soak all the ingredients for five hours except salt, coconut, coriander leaves and curry leaves before grinding to a coarse batter. Add salt and remaining ingredients to the batter and mix well. Heat the tawa and pour a ladle of adai batter and spread it like a thick dosa. Add oil and cook on both sides. Adai can be savoured with ‘avial’ or coconut chutney or ginger chutney.

  • Tamilians prefer cooking using ammi-kal, or a grinding stone

  • A lot of grated coconut is used in ‘poriyal’ ‘sambar’ and ‘kootu’