Tamil Nadu has 32 districts and many small villages. Each location is famous for its authentic food. The native people have magic in their hands that make these recipes world famous. Let us take a sneak peak at some of the traditional dishes.
1 Tirunelveli Halwa
Tirunelveli halwa is a world famous sweet. Ghee, Sugar and Wheat milk are the ingredients of the halwa. People visiting Tirunelveli will never miss tasting this unique halwa from the famous “Iruttukadi halwa” shop. Iruttukadai Halwa is a shop where you can have the best tasting halwa. The shop is open from 5 pm to 8 pm every day, only for three hours. In this shop they prepare halwa in a traditional way manually, without using machines to extract milk. The ghee is brought fresh from the local farmers and water from the Thamirabarani river. They prepare halwa in a dimly lit place, and so the name is the Iruttukadai meaning dark shop in Tamil. If you refrigerate the halwa for 24 hours, you can see a crisp outer coating because of the pure ghee, which you cannot find in other halwas or halwas from other shops. These are the factors responsible for the delicious taste of the halwa in the Iruttukadai shop.
2 Kancheepuram Idly
Idly is one of the regular foods for the people of Tamil Nadu. The Kancheepuram idly or the Kovil idly is different from the usual recipe of idly. It is offered as a holy food in the Varadharaja Perumal temple in Kancheepuram. Rice, Urad dal, and Fenugreek seeds are ground together to make a thick paste. Add pepper, Cumin seeds, and Ginger to the batter. People in the temple cook the idly in Mantharai leaves, which gives a flavor to the idly. It is a healthy food.
3 Kumbakonam Degree Filter Coffee
Coffee is a favorite drink of all. Nothing can match the natural aroma and the unique taste of the Kumbakonam Filter Coffee. People prepare coffee by the drip decoction method. Decoction contains 70 – 80% roasted coffee beans powder and 30 – 20% chicory. The specialty of the coffee lies in the purity of the milk rather than the coffee powder. People prepare Coffee with pure Cow’s milk. The utensil for making the decoction consists of two portions. The upper part contains a holed bottom. Place the coffee powder in the top vessel and add boiling water to it. The utensil below collects the brewed coffee. Add sugar in a tumbler, then add decoction and finally add milk to it. Traditionally the Coffee is served in Brass utensil.
4 Madurai Jigarthanda
The Jigarthanda from Madurai is a cold drink. It is a dish with a heavenly taste. It is a popular drink during the summers. Almond Pisin, reduced milk, Ice Cream, and Nanari syrup are the main ingredients for this drink. Take a glass, add some Almond Pisin, then add the reduced milk and Nanari syrup and mix it well. Add a spoonful of Ice Cream. The Ice Cream used also plays a role in enhancing the taste of the Jigarthanda. It is a refreshing drink during the hot summer days.
5 Senkottai Border Parotta
The name sounds a little bit strange, right? Senkottai Parotta is usually more soft and fluffy than the usual Parottas. The texture of the Parotta is similar to the border of a saree, and so they call it as border Parotta. They serve the Parotta with chicken salna. Mix maida, sugar, salt, milk and water to form smooth dough and make small balls from the dough. Spread the balls as thin sheets on a flat surface and fold the parottas. Make a spiral after folding it. Flatten the spirals and cook it in a tawa. A texture similar to sari border appears on the outer surface of the Parotta.
6 Pazhani Panchamrutham
Pazhani is the famous shrine of Lord Muruga. It is made up of 4448 herbs which are capable of curing many diseases. People extract medicine by pouring milk and Panchamrutham on the idol. So every day the priest does the pooja by pouring milk and Panchamrutham on the idol and panchamrutham is given as Prasad to deities. We can store it for a long time even without refrigerating. Bananas, sugar candy, Jaggery, Ghee and Dates mixed to prepare this dish. It is delicious along with a lot of medicinal properties.
7 Kovilpatti Kadalamittai
Kadalamittai is a candy made from Peanut. Kadalamittai is famous all over Tamil Nadu. In Kovilpatti they use good quality ingredients which make the Kovilpatti Kadalamittai different from other sweet candies. Heat Jaggery and make syrup out of it. Add glucose water, Vanilla essence and Peanuts to it. Then cut it into rectangular slabs and allow it to cool. They use two types of Jaggery to make the syrup. One is the regular Jaggery, and the other is the “Theni” Jaggery. The candies are very cheap and have a delicious taste.
8 Manaparrai Murukku
Murukku is a favorite snack for the people of Tamil Nadu. The uniformly salty water of Manaparrai adds a unique flavor to the murukku. The taste depends on the quality of rice and oil used. The trade secret of Manaparrai Murukku is that they fry the murukku in two batches. It gives you an enhanced taste. Mix rice flour, asafetida, cumin seeds, and water to form the batter which is not too liquid. Fill it in the murukku maker to form coils and fry it in the oil. Set it aside and again fry it after some time. The murukku is not too spicy, but you will surely enjoy this crunchy snack.
9 Tuticorin Macaroons
Tuticorin is a coastal area famous for macaroons. The macaroons in Tuticorin have a hot shape, made with Egg White, Sugar and Cashew nuts. People use high- quality Cashew nuts to enhance the taste. The secret lies in missing the ingredients in proper proportions, making it into a hat shape and baking it properly in the ovens. In European countries, Almond is the main ingredient for macaroons, but making it with Cashew nuts is the specialty of the Tuticorin macaroons. It has a very sweet taste.
10 Sattur Kara Sev
Kara Sev is a famous snack in Tamil Nadu. It is popular for its perfect balanced combination of spices and Garlic. Usually, Channa dal flour is the main ingredient in making Kara sev, but in Sattur they use rice flour along with Channa dal flour. To this flour add Cumin seeds, Asafetida, Chili Powder and Garlic paste. Pour the batter into the perforated ladle, long strands of Kara sev fall into the oil, then cook it for some time. The snack is crispy and has a delicious taste. People and Sattur usually have curd rice and Kara sev together which makes it a heavenly food.
11 Dindugal Thalapakatti Biryani
Biryani is a world famous dish. The Mutton Briyani at Thalapakatti restaurant in Dindugal is known for its unique taste and flavor. They use a special type of rice called Seeraga Samba Rice and homemade masalas. The specialty of Dindugal Briyani is that they use water from the Kamarajar Lake, which distinguishes the taste of Dindugal Briyani from others. People from nearby villages visit Dindugal Thalapakatti restaurant to have a plate full of Briyani. They use their breed of Goat to have good quality mutton. Once the rice is semi cooked, they adopt a dum style cooking. The rice is well marinated in the masalas, and the meat is juicy and soft. People serve it along with raitha.
12 Coimbatore Coconut Buns
Coconut bun is a pastry that goes well along with Tea. The stuffing ingredients are grated Coconut and Sugar. They also add Tutti-Frutti. The buns are very soft and have a mild sweet taste. There are a lot of Coconut trees in Coimbatore They use the best quality Coconuts to prepare the dish. People bake the bun carefully for a time limit, which is responsible for the softness and delicious taste of the dish.
13 Chennai Vada Curry
Vada Curry is one of the popular dishes in the hotels of Chennai. It is a side dish suitable for Idly, Dosa and even Chapathi. Set dosa and Vada curry is the best combination. The vada mixture contains channa dal, chili powder, and Onions. People use Coconut milk in making the gravy. The vadas are mixed with the gravy and cooked for some time. Vada Curry is a famous street food in Chennai. Set dosa and the hot Vada Curry gives you an amazing taste.
14 Erode- Kongunadu Cuisines
The specialty of Kongunadu cuisines is that they use Sesame Seeds, Groundnuts, dry Ginger, dry Coconut and Roasted Turmeric more in their foods. The famous dishes in Kongunadu cuisines include Banana flower vada, Drumstick soup, tender Coconut Payasam, raagi idiyappam, pathanir halwa and many more. The Kongunadu dishes are mostly yellow in color and have a unique aroma because of the roasted Turmeric. They never marinate meat in this cuisine. Instead, they are sun dried and fried and are used in cooking. The cuisine has a little bit sweet taste.
15 Srivilliputhur Palkova
Srivilliputhur is the birthplace of Andal. People visiting Srivilliputhur never leaves the place without having a bite of the tasty Palkova. It is a sweet dish. Boil the milk in big earthen pots lit with firewoods or Cashew nut shells and when it begins to solidify, add sugar and mix it well. People get pure milk from the local farmers. Still, the traditional method of cooking the Palkova is followed. They use good quality ingredients which add a unique taste to the Palkova.
16 Ooty Varkey
Ooty is a hill station in Nilgiri hills, Tamil Nadu. People serve Ooty varkey along with Tea or Coffee. Maida, sugar, salt and mava are the ingredients in making the Vurkey. The climatic conditions of Ooty and the water used in preparing this cookie give a different taste to the Vurkey. It takes 12 hours to cook the Vurkey. It has a sweet taste. Some people give it a little spicy touch.
17 Arcot Makkan Peda
Arcot, a small place nearby Vellore is famous for sweets. Makkan Peda, a sweet which resembles Gulab Jamun in shape and texture, but a bit flattened has a heavenly taste. The uniqueness of Arcot Makkan Peda is that they stuff dry fruits filling inside the Pedas. Dry fruits include Almond, Pista, Raisins, Walnut and much more. Maida and Sugarless Gova are mixed to form the dough which is then rolled into balls and stuffed with the dry fruits filling. Fry it in the oil and soak the fried balls in Sugar syrup at least for 10 hours. After that, the mouth watering pedas are ready to be served.
18 Nanjilnaadu Fish Curry
Nanjilnaadu comprises of the Kanyakumari and Nagercoil districts. Since these places are near sea shores, they are famous for sea foods. It is a very delicious dish. People use raw Coconut paste to cook the fish. It is the specialty of the Fish curry. The Fish is well soaked in the masalas and has a unique taste. The smell of Coconut oil adds a different flavor to the dish. Nanjilnaadu Fish curry along with rice makes the best combination for a perfect meal.
19 Ambur Biryani
Biryani is a mouth watering dish for people all around the world. Even though Briyani is of Nawabi origin, Ambur has given a special touch to the Briyani. People use Seeraga Samba Rice in cooking the Briyani. The ingredients in Biryani include Onion, Tomatoes, Green Chilies, Ginger- Garlic paste, Cardamom, Cinnamon, and Cloves. When the rice is semi cooked, people switch over to dum style of cooking. Dum style of cooking means, people remove Briyani from the fire and cover it with a lid containing hot coals. It has such a heavenly taste. Chicken biryani is more famous than Mutton in Ambur.
20 Chettinad Samayal- Karaikudi
The Chettinad cuisine is spicier than many other cuisines in Tamil Nadu. People in the region of Karaikudi follow Chettinad type of cooking. Spices play a major role in Chettinad dishes. People use spices like Pepper, Star Anise, kal paasi, maratti mokku, Cloves, Cinnamon, and Cardamom extensively. Chettinad cuisine is famous for its sea foods. The gravy dishes in Chettinad cuisines are usually more spicy and hot. Onions, Tomatoes, Ginger-Garlic paste, and Coconuts are the usual ingredients for most of the dishes. Paniyaram is a famous dish in Chettinad cuisine.