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Top 10 Delicious Tamil Foods To Try Out Today

August 23, 2022

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Tamilian people are those found mainly in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in India, but also Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mauritius, and Singapore. Wherever they are, they are well known for their exquisite Tamil cuisine and mouth-watering dishes. Here is a list of the top 10 delicious Tamilian Foods to try today!

History Of Tamil Food

Tamil foods have a great ancient history. Traditionally,Tamil people's most important and staple food is rice. Several South Indian dishes also originate from the Hindu Brahmin religion, which includes mainly vegetarian dishes.

Brahmins are the highest Hindu caste that forms priests. This is why meat from animals is not a staple for Tamil Brahmins. But, there are different types of Brahmins though; some also eat meat and fish. Therefore, South Indian cuisine of Tamil Nadu comprises vegetarian, non-vegetarian dishes, and of course, desserts!
You must have noticed that most South Indian food is served on a banana leaf.

This is not just to make the food look attractive or because the leaves will later be used as cattle feed! There is also an auspicious belief that dates back centuries. South Indians live in and among trees and worship them as well. Therefore, serving meals on banana leaves is a very sacred and common practice among the people.

Before Starting The Food Hunt

Though numerous people speak English in Tamil Nadu, if you are about to dive into hitting the right food spots and street food vendors, you might want to get a few Tamil words about food, and also words about transportation to be able to get around the state at ease.  

Also, check out some phrases that will be helpful to kickstart your food hunt for the most famous food in Tamil Nadu.

Now, let's start with the absolute must-try foods of Tamil Nadu.

Vegetarian Tamil Dishes

A delightful part of Tamil is cuisine is its fully vegetarian dishes.
Fully Vegetarian Tamil Dishes

Dosa

Dosa is a flat bread, usually crispy, made from a batter with mixtures of lentils (urad dal) and rice. The batter is first fermented before fried like a thin pancake over a hot flat pan. Then it is commonly served with Sambar and Coconut chutney, a fine paste of groundnut, coconut, and lentils.

Dosa can also be served with sauteed potato filling or as a side dish. It has many versions like masala dosa, paneer dosa, and so on. It mainly always has the rice and lentil-based batter with various versions and side dishes.

Idli Sambhar

This is mainly a breakfast dish made of rice and de-husked black lentils mixed into a batter and steamed, forming a rice cake. Similar to the rice batter used to make dosas, this is also fermented to help speed up the breakdown of starches, making it a healthy meal to start the day.


One famous version of Idli is the Rava Idli made from semolina. Another substitute for making idli can be urad dal flour mixed with rice as well. Idli is always paired with the mighty dish called Sambhar. Sambhar is a lentil-based stew cooked with vegetables and a tamarind broth. It has a slightly tangy or sour taste that gives a nice kick to the meal. It is a spicy stew served hot paired with idlis or dosas, garnished with coriander leaves.

Rava Upma

Rava Upma is one of the famous foods often used as breakfast or a popular snack. It is a thick porridge of rice flour or semolina. The dishes made from semolina instead of rice flour are often named "rava".
It is one of the easiest dishes to prepare by first roasting the semolina or coarse/broken rice flour on a pan, then removing it; mustard seeds, chopped onions, spices, lentils, and vegetables are added according to preference. Finally, the roasted semolina is added with hot water and cooked until the mixture thickens.

Each family recipe would be different as preferred vegetables and unique spice mixes are used according to the choice and taste of the household.

Tamil foods
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Non-Vegetarian Tamil Dishes

Aloo Biryani

Though there are several biryanis loved by Tamils, one such dish is the Aloo biryani. In this mouth-watering dish, the potatoes are marinated and absorb the rich taste of the spices. It is often made with basmati rice and herbs. South India is famous for a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian biryanis. For example, the Aloo biryani is a common go-to food among Tamils.

Chicken Chettinad

This is a spicy curry dish made from grated coconut, coconut milk, and a range of spices served with steamed rice. It is one of the most popular South Indian chicken dishes. Ideally, chicken that was marinated for at least 30 minutes would be used. The masala or spices used are a combination of curry leaves, poppy seeds, coriander seeds, cloves, cardamom, and black pepper. Chopped coriander leaves are later used as a garnish.

Prawns Kuzhambu Or Prawn Curry

It is a South Indian delicacy made of fresh coconut masala and basic spices served with rice or dosa. It is a famous dish cooked with small or medium prawns or shrimps. Kuzhambu milagai thool is a multipurpose chili powder often used in South Indian cuisine. This is where this dish gets its name. The serving food with this is cooked rice.

Chicken Salna

This is quite the comfort food for Tamilians. It is a thin gravy dish made usually with meat stock served along with rice flour paratha. However, many do have it with dosa or idli as well.

Sweet Dish Or Desserts

Payasam

This is a traditional food served as a dessert. It is a sweet dish similar to a wet pudding. It is often also called Kheer in other parts of South India. The main ingredients are ghee, rice, sugar, milk, condensed milk, cardamom, and nuts.

Ravri Kesari

This is a traditional dessert made of Kesari or saffron, milk, semolina, and ghee. It is a quick dish mainly offered to guests or during festivals but can also be a breakfast dish.

Mysore Pak

This sweet dish is similar to a buttery dense cookie made mainly with ghee. Though it was originally made in Tamil Nadu, it was later appropriated in Mysore, Karnataka where it gets its name. There is often debate on which South Indian state created it, but research clarifies that as far back as 1835, this dish was made in Tamil Nadu. Other Signature Dishes of Tamil Nadu.

If you visit Tamil Nadu, famous snacks include Murukku, Payakayalu, Kuzhi Paniyaram, Green Pea masala, all paired with two cylindrical cups of tea. These are a very popular street food and tea-time snacks. Tea-time itself is from 5-7 pm and is probably the result of the British influence in India. But tea time can also mean filter coffee time, another famous food among Tamils. 

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