Favourite Rice Dishes In Tamil Cuisine
Occupying the southern tip of the Indian Peninsula, Tamil Nadu is the eleventh largest state and sixth most populous state in India. The region borders the states of Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.
The people of Tamil Nadu are renowned for their hospitality and are particularly welcoming to travellers visiting the region. Most notably, the local people believe that food is a service to humanity; though the region has undergone modernisation, its cuisine remains deep-rooted in ancient techniques and tradition. The flavours, aromas and ingredients used in the preparation of dishes are the same now as they were hundreds of years ago.
Tamil Nadu cuisine comprises numerous staple ingredients, one of which being rice. In fact, rice in a staple across India, with numerous varieties on offer in every state. All rice dishes boast unique flavours and textures, from a basic garlic rice to the more full-bodied and rich Biryani. Tamil Nadu and the states it borders eat much more rice than other Indian states.
A staple rice dish in Tamil cuisine in ArsiParuppuSadam, which comprises short-grained rice mixed with Tur Dal (a popular pulse in Tamil Nadu and also known as the ‘pigeon pea’). ArsiParuppuSadam is considered to be extremely nutritious; it is a vital source of protein and a favourite dish among vegetarians. ArsiParuppuSadam is flavoured through the addition of numerous spices, which are tempered in ghee before being added to the dish.
There are many variations of ArsiParuppuSadam – some people add crushed garlic or sambar powder to enhance the flavour, whilst other people might add ingredients such as cinnamon and cloves to give the dish a sweet-twist. ArsiParuppuSadam is most often served with a portion of fried potatoes, papad, curd and pickle.
Almost all meals cooked in Tamil Nadu will involve some form of rice. A common dish is Rasam or sambar served with a mound of steamed rice, known as ‘Choru.’ The locals are particular keen on cooking lemon rice, and this is often prepared using rice from the day before. Lemon rice is seen to be the ultimate comfort food dish and it is most commonly eaten with pickles and curd. It is bright yellow in colour and although you would assume this was due to the addition of lemon, it is actually turmeric which gives the dish such a bright hue. Along with rice (typically basmati rice), turmeric and lemon, other ingredients in lemon rice include curry leaves, green chillies, salt, mustard seeds and Chana Dal.
As well as being enjoyed as part of a meal, rice is also used to mark special occasions in Tamil Nadu. It is a key feature at Iyer weddings, with female guests throwing coloured rice at the bride and groom. This is done to bless the couple, to ward off evil and to wish them a rich and fulfilling future together.
Rice doesn’t always need to be a side dish –it can be the main attraction, too. Head down to one of London’s fine Indian restaurants and choose from an array of mouth-watering rice dishes.