Kongu Nadu cuisine is predominantly South Indian with rice as its base and a collection of exotic recipes being created by the people residing in the Kongu region. As it is also native to an arid area, the cuisine includes cereals like Cholam, Kambu, Kezhvaragu, and different kinds of pulses and sesame.
In western Tamil Nadu, the region known as Kongunadu — includes Ooty, Coimbatore, Pollachi, Udumalpet, Avinashi, Palladam, Karur, Erode, Atthur, Salem, Palani, Metthur and Dharmapuram — stands apart for its tight-knit culinary traditions and cornucopia of fine ingredients.
Kongu Cuisine speciality:
The traditional way of cooking, No marination of non-vegetarian items, Tumeric is always used [fresh or roasted and ground], Use of oil and chilli is less, Use of unpeeled potatoes use and milk in curries, Use of coconut shells to cook meat gravies easily, U/se of “Coparai” (dry coconut) in curries and gravies rather than fresh coconut, Use mangoes to prepare various sweets, Cook delicacies using various cereals such as rye, bajra, jowar for their main course, Consume buttermilk and sweet as the second last course and rasam as the last.
Varieties of Kongu Nadu samayal:
Non vegetarian recipes:
Pollachi yeral masala and pollachi mutton kuzhambu, Thandu keema Urundai, Karur mutton kuzhambhu,
Keeranoor mutton kuzhambhu [mutton + vegetables], Karimeen kuzhambhu [ fish + mutton], Pallipalayam kozhi varuval [chiken +pallipalayam special masala], Nathakadaiyur nandu masala [crab masala], Attakatti yeral masala, Aathur kozhi kuzhambhu .
Benian [speciality of muslim cuisine ], Mushroom thirattal [mushroom + groundnut masala], Ellu kara dosai, Ragi roti, Pallapatti kathirikai masala, Kathamba saadam, Kuchi kizhangu avial, Salavu kuzhambu [use of herbs like thithili], Drumstick leaf adai, Karur kaai kurma, Pachapuli rasam [tamarind + onion], Nila kuzhambhu.[curry prepared with potato, colocassia, yam and sweet potato], Kollu masiyal [horsegram boiled and ground to a paste along with spices], Payiru thirattal [whole moong dhal+groundnut paste +onion +pepper], Kaalaan parangi kari.
About Kongu Cuisine:
A zingy sharbat of manner, a local herbal root, and narthangai limes are the first to arrive. Starters include murungai keerai paniyaram, a shallow-fried moringa leaf dumpling, puziyampatti parappu vadai or yellow split pea patties, and Pallipalayam kozhi varuval or slow-braised country chicken flavoured with red chilli, garlic, fennel and other spices.
Among the mains, the home-style country chicken, nattu kozhi kozhambu, made with shallots, tomatoes and coconut paste. It pairs nicely with my kambu (pearl millet) dosa.
Kari kozhambu, a slow-cooked lamb curry with coriander seeds, garlic, chilli, ginger, shallots and whole spices, is meltingly tender and a speciality of the village Sathyamangalam. The Kongu way of preparing meat dishes does not include a large number of spices. It is rustic and is sometimes finished off with coconut paste.
The mildly-spiced vegetarian curries hold their own, allowing the ingredients to shine. Keerai vadhkkal, a stew made using a local spinach variety, tomatoes, and hand-pounded garlic, embodies the simple, ingredient-focused cooking of Kongu cooking perfectly.
I also get a taste of kootu, a green bean and lentil curry considered de rigueur at Kongu weddings, and pounds kozhambu, a garlic and tamarind staple.
If Kongunadu has a quintessential rice dish, it’s arisi parappu Saddam, a pulao-like dish of rice and lentils tempered with mustard, red chilli and garlic. The plantain flower rice is stunning: short-grain rice called ponni, peanuts, shallots and desiccated coconut set off by the peppery astringency of banana flowers.
Kongunadu loves its millets. A millet dumpling called Kalli is typical of the region. Millets are soaked and steamed in a mud pot and a big ladle is used to churn them. Hand-pounded spice pastes and podis are building blocks for most Kongu dishes.
Spice levels are toned down, and meat is rarely marinated. Tart country tomatoes are used to sharpen curries and shallots play a starring role in most dishes. It’s simple food from the village, straight from a mud pot.
A steaming bowl of fresh drumstick and lentil soup kicks off the lunch. If u are Keen to try a Muslim-style dish, you should order the pot biryani. They use short-grained steerage samba rice, a special garam masala blend and a precise 3:2 measure of ginger and garlic. Once cooked, the biryani is put on dum in a mud pot for 20 minutes. There you can see paradise by tasting the yummy Biryani.
Dessert is a star called elanner payasam, an ambrosial concoction of tender coconut water and milk spiced with crushed cardamom and double-boiled to acquire a boozy complexity. The velvety, perfectly grease-free sweet rolls over the tongue like silk. This may be the reason why God made coconuts.
Kongu food offers the perfect counterpoint to the fieriness of Chettiar dishes. The taste is rich but not heavy, a great find for devotees of healthy food.
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