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Tamil cuisine is a culinary style originating in the southern Indian state Tamil Nadu and other parts of South Asia such as Sri Lanka.[1] Vegetarian cuisine is popular among the Tamil people and has been so since ancient times. However, meats along with rice, legumes and lentils are also popular. Dairy products and tamarind are used to provide sour flavors. On special occasions, traditional Tamil dishes are served in a traditional manner, using banana leaves in place of utensils. After eating, the banana leaves are then used as a secondary food for cattle. A typical breakfast meal consists of idli or dosa with chutney. Lunch includes rice, sambar, curd, kuzhambu, and rasam.

Typical meals

Sappadu (a typical meal), along with other Tamil dishes are served on a banana leaf which adds flavor. Puddings such as payasam are eaten last. Coffee and tea are the staple drinks.[2]

A vegetarian meal in Tamil Nadu

"Virundhu" refers to the core elements of Tamil cuisine offered to the guests on special occasions such as festivals and marriage ceremony. Rice staples, tomato rice, Paruppu, sambar, rasam, poriyal and koottu are added with butter or curd to prepare pachadi. Dry and fresh fruits or vegetables are also used to prepare traditional cuisine.They serve salt, pickles, payasam, and avial. After the meal, a banana and betel leaf with areca nuts and limestone paste are used to promote digestion. Before eating traditional cuisine, people clean the banana leaf with water. It is used as a large dinning table sheet to serve food for guests and family members on which the food items are placed.

Regional cuisine

Each area where Tamils have lived has developed its own distinct variant of the common dishes. The four divisions of ancient Tamilakam prepare their unique Tamil cuisine.

Chola Nadu

The cuisine of the Chola Nadu region specializes in several dishes such as sevai and other varieties associated with different sauces like chutney. The most common dishes are chidambaram and kumbakonam. The Tanjore region is one of the prominent producers of rice-based dishes like puliyodhari, sambhar sadam, birinji and amirtha podi sadam. Millet dishes like kutharai valli dosai are also prepared.

Pandiya Nadu

The Chettinad region and its adjoining areas such as Karaikudi have many vegetarians. Dishes like idiyappam, uthappam, paniyaram and non-vegetarian dishes are common dishes in this region. The Madurai region has its own unique dishes such as muttaiparotta, paruthipal, karidosai, and jigarthanda.


Kongunadu cuisine was originally prepared in rural areas. Oputtu and kola urundai are the main dishes. Thengai paal jaggery, ulundu kali, kachayam, arisimparupu sadam, Kelvaragu puttumavu, arisi puttumavu, paniyaram, kelvaragu pakoda, thengai barbi, kadalai urundai, ellu urundai and pori urundai are among other dishes prepared by Tamil people. They consume mutton, chicken, freshwater fishes and quail due to the area being landlocked. Arisimparupu sadam is a unique dish. Most common oils are sesame and ground nut oil.


The cuisine of this regions shares similarities with Telugu cuisine due to geographic proximity. Hot and spicy vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes are prepared. Idli, dosai, bhajji, koottu,murukku, vadacurry and chicken 65 are common dishes in this region.

Tamil culinary terms in English


Idly with Medu vada (Ulundhu Vadai) with tomato Chutney, Sambhar served on banana leaf
Ven Pongal
Dosai made at home
File:Filter coffee South Indian style.JPG
Filter coffee
Kuzhi Paniyaram

Rice is the staple food of most Tamil people. It is generally used during lunch and sometimes dinner. Choru is served along with other food items such as sambar, poriyal, rasam, kootu and curd.

Breakfast dishes

Main dishes

Side dishes


Lunch and dinner dishes

Main dishes

Rice varieties

Sambar varieties

Rasam Varieties

Curry varieties

Poriyal/stir-fry varieties

Kootu/stew varieties

Chicken varieties

Mutton varieties

Seafood varieties

Egg varieties

Sweet dishes

Traditional snacks


Podi varieties/chutney powder

These are the dry chutney powder varieties to be mixed with cooked plain rice and ghee.

See also


  1. ^ "Amma canteen: Where an Indian meal costs only seven cents". BBC News. 4 July 2016. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  2. ^ Shankar, Shylashri (16 December 2016). "A coffee break in tradition". Open the magazine. Retrieved 21 December 2016.
  3. ^ "Curry; Define Curry at". Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  4. ^ "mulligatawny, n.". Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2003.
  5. ^ "congee". Academic Dictionaries and Encyclopedias. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Mukund Padmanabhan, Subash Jeyan and Subajayanthi Wilson (26 May 2012). "Food Safari: In search of Ambur biryani". The Hindu.
  8. ^ "Biryani bistro". The Hindu. 11 March 2010. Retrieved 28 March 2012.

Further reading