Chettinad is a tiny region located in the Shivaganga district, Tamil Nadu. This region, although small is famous all over the world for its culinary excellence. Chettinad or Chettinadu food is what you can say the food at its finest. Nothing is simple or standard in this cuisine. It is elaborate, extravagant and you will certainly fall in love with the cuisine at the very instant. They use a plethora of spices, vegetables and especially sun-dried vegetables to keep their nutritional value intact.
Chettinad cuisine is nothing like any other cuisine. It is complicated, festive and the food is simply delightful. The flavours very robust and carefully balanced, Chettinad food is loved by everyone across the globe. The Chettiars (people of Chettinad) settled in the regions of Tamil Nadu, have been influenced by various cuisines including the Sri Lankan cuisine, Burmese cuisine, Mauritius cuisine. It is this fusion of flavours that makes the Chettinad cuisine so unique and fancy.
The Chettiars love their food and we see their history and culture through their food. They serve their food on a banana leaf. They are also quite superstitious and hence their meals always contain an odd number of dishes like 7 or 9.
Chettiars are maybe simple, but their food is nonetheless a celebration. So, here are some very famous Chettinad dishes that you must try at least once.
Arguably the most famous dish of the Chettinad culture is Idiyappam. Idiyappam is a rice-based dish and is basically noodles made with rice. They are also called as String Hoopers and the dish is quite comforting. It is usually served with a vegetable curry or chicken stew or egg curry.
2.Vazhaipoo Meen Kuzhambu
When you hear the word Meen, you think of nice fish and a curry made with it. But ever imagined a fish curry without fish? Well, Vazhaipoo Meen Kuzhambu, a speciality of the Chettinad cuisine make its fish curry without fish. Its literal translation means Vegetarian Fish curry and this dish is prepared with Banana Blossom or Fried Banana Flowers. A tangy and spicy dish that tastes great with dosa, idly or white rice.
3.Karaikudi Eral Masala
If you love seafood, you ought to try this Karaikudi Eral Masala recipe. Spicy prawn curry made with authentic Chettinad masalas, the dish is an outburst of flavours. The Chettinad masala, mustard oil and a splash of coconut milk takes this dish to another level. Serve it with hot rice and enjoy the richness of this cuisine.
Most people believe that Chettinad cuisine is all about non-vegetarian dishes. But, that is false and there are oodles of delectable vegetarian dishes too. One such dish is Ennai (oil) Kathirikai (brinjal), which is a brinjal based dish and the brinjals are deep-fried in oil before cooking. Made with roasted spices, coconuts and poppy seeds, this brinjal curry has a sour and tangy flavour to it. Also, the traditional Ennai Kathirikai recipe doesn’t have garlic and onions making it different from the Stuffed Brinjals curry.
Roasted and marinated well with spices and coconut, Kada Fry or Quail Fry is an absolute delish. Quail is low in cholesterol and is often considered as a great substitute for chicken. Crispy, tender and succulent, this meat is great as a starter or to eat with roti or parotta.
Mutton Chukka is a Chettinad style Mutton Curry. A dry mutton curry made with freshly ground spices, a concoction of varied spices and a dosage of strong peppercorns or pepper. Tastes best with jeera rice, white rice or idiyappam, this is a treat to your taste buds and senses.
Kandarappam is a sweet-snack that is iconic. It is present on all important occasions, celebrations and festivals. It is made with rice flour and four different types of lentils, some use more than four varieties. Sweet, crispy and crunchy, this dish is palatable and a must-try.
Chettinad Chicken or Chettinad Kozhi is the star of the cuisine. Considered to be one of the spiciest chicken curries in the country, it’s a shame if you haven’t tried this yet. Made with a concoction of spices, coconut milk and chicken, it is as beautiful as a song. Chettinad cuisine is nothing without this gem of a dish.