Your Food Guide 101: Learn Vocabulary About Food In Tamil

Vocabulary About Food In Tamil

Idli, Dosa, Sambar. Yes, these are the most famous Tamil foods known outside the South Indian region. And no, we are not going to restrict our knowledge of vocabulary about food in Tamil Nadu to these three items. Tamil cuisine goes far beyond this stereotypical list.

With Tamil being one of the oldest living languages in the world, and Dravidian history and culture being as rich as they are, it would be an injustice to only scratch the surface of its culinary heritage. In this article, we will try to cover as much content on Tamil cuisine and its vocabulary as space allows.

Top 10 Most Loved Tamil Dishes

Food (உணவு unavu) in Tamil Nadu is steeped in tradition. Even though global culinary influences have been making inroads into the Tamil food culture, authentic Tamil food is still holding fort quite strongly, all thanks to its deep cultural roots.

The most basic and popular food items that are extensively used throughout Tamil cuisine, and which give a Tamil Sappadu (Cāppāṭuசாப்பாடு) its rich and distinct flavor, are coconut, tamarind, and curry leaves. A Tamil Sappadu is a full-course meal that consists of all six flavors – sweet (Iṉippu – இனிப்பு), sour (Puḷippāṉaபுளிப்பான), bitter (Kacappāṉaகசப்பான), salty (Uppu – உப்பு), pungent (Kaṭumaiyāṉa – கடுமையான), and astringent (Tuvarppu துவர்ப்பு).

Come, let us learn some easy Tamil vocabulary as we learn more about Tamil cuisine.

Vocabulary About Food In Tamil - Sappadu
Tamil Sappadu

#1 Idli

Yes, the most popular, most common, and most ubiquitous Tamil food is the soft, steamed rice idlis (இட்லி). Made from fermented batter of rice, idlis are the staple breakfast or tiffin food, served along with coconut chutney (Tēṅkāy caṭṉiதேங்காய் சட்னி) and Sambar (சாம்பார்) – a lentil and vegetable soup.

#2 Dosa

A good Masala Dosa (Macālā tōcaiமசாலா தோசை) can make your heart sing! A dosa is a crêpe-like item made of a fermented batter of rice and lentil. It comes in a variety of textures, but the most popular one is Masala Dosa, where Masala constitutes a lightly spiced boiled potato filling. The dosa is served along with Sambar and coconut chutney. In many places, tomato chutney (Takkāḷi caṭṉiதக்காளி சட்னி) also accompanies the meal. In Tamil Nadu, it is known as Dosai or Thosai.

Vocabulary About Food In Tamil - Idli
Idli with Sambar

#3 Uttapam

An Uttapam (உத்தபம்) resembles a pancake but is savory in flavor. It is made of semolina and yogurt batter. The most popular varieties are Onion Uttapam (Veṅkāya uttapamவெங்காய உத்தபம்) and Tomato Uttapam (Takkāḷi uttāpamதக்காளி உத்தாபம்) where these two vegetables are finely chopped and added as a topping. There is also Vegetable Uttapam with finely chopped vegetables like capsicum, carrots, and cabbage.

#4 Vada

Vada or Vadai (Vaṭaiவடை) is a fried savory snack made of black gram batter and served with an assortment of chutneys. This street-side snack is best-enjoyed piping hot, especially during the thundering monsoon season. It also tastes yum dipped in Sambar.

#5 Chicken Chettinad

Chettinad is a region in Tamil Nadu where this dish originated. Chicken Chettinad (Kōḻi ceṭṭināṭuகோழி செட்டிநாடு) is a delicious chicken curry made of chicken pieces cooked in a spicy paste made of coconut, onions, tomatoes, and various Indian spices (Macālā – மசாலா).

Vocabulary About Food In Tamil - Vadai

#6 Mutton Kuzhambu

Mutton Kuzhambu (Maṭṭaṉ kuḻampuமட்டன் குழம்பு) is a fiery mutton curry commonly eaten with white rice (Ariciஅரிசி). The main flavor comes from coconut and poppy seeds (Pāppi vitaikaḷபாப்பி விதைகள்).

#7 Puliyodarai

Puliyodarai (Puḷiyōtaraiபுளியோதரை) is a delicious savory rice dish full of flavor, thanks to its star ingredient – Tamarind (Puḷiபுளி). It is generally made during festivals and on special occasions. It is also offered to the deities in the temples as a meal offering (Piracātamபிரசாதம்) and then distributed among the devotees.

#8 Rasam

Rasam (Racam ரசம்) is a peppery broth made of tamarind pulp and tempered with curry leaves (Kaṟivēppilai – கறிவேப்பிலை) and mustard seeds (Kaṭuku vitaikaḷகடுகு விதைகள்). It is usually savored on its own but can also be eaten with rice.

Vocabulary About Food In Tamil - Parappu Payasam
Parappu Payasam

#9 Paruppu Payasam

Paruppu Payasam (Paruppu pāyacamபருப்பு பாயசம்) is a traditional dessert made of moong lentils slowly cooked in coconut milk (Tēṅkāy pālதேங்காய் பால்), jaggery (Vellam – வெல்லம்), clarified butter or ghee (Neyநெய்) and garnished with nuts and dried fruits.

#10 Filter Kaapi

No Tamil meal is complete without a shot of freshly brewed Filter Kaapi (Vaṭikaṭṭi kāpi – வடிகட்டி காபி). It is a frothy coffee concocted with milk (Pālபால்) and sugar (Carkkaraiசர்க்கரை) that tastes divine.

List of Vocabulary About Food In Tamil

Boil கொதிKoti
Cookbookசமையல் புத்தகம்Camaiyal puttakam
Dishஉணவு வகைUnavu vakai
Greaseஎண்ணெய்ப் பசைEnneyp pacai
Doughபிசைந்த மாவுPicainta maavu
Sauceஉணவுடன் சேர்த்து உண்ணப்படும் குழம்புUnavutan certtu unnappadum kulampu
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