Monday, November 6, 2017

Thanjavur Cuisine

Brief History of Thanjavur 

If there’s cultural snobbery and heightened aesthetics in Tamil Nadu, it all came from the wealthy Kaveri Delta Area around Thanjavur.Music, art, painting, dance sprung from this beautiful Chola kingdom. However, in the fuss about performing arts, there’s one aspect that has been overlooked but deserves special mention – Thanjavur cuisine.Thanjavur is a city present in the heart of Tamil Nadu. Despite being a historical chapter in its own self it surely connects with rest of the state and the influence of traditional Tamilian flavor which can be seen in cuisines of Thanjavur. Like the richness of exquisite culture parallel level of majestic tastes can be found in traditional Thanjavur cuisines
 Culture of Thanjavur
Thanjavur is an important pilgrim centre and a major tourist destination of Tamil Nadu. South Zone Culture Centre in Thanjavur is one of the regional cultural centres established by the Government of India to preserve and promote cultural heritage of India

Sathaya Thiruvizha is the annual birthday festival of Raja Raja Chola held during October every year. Thanjavur is the base for the Tyagaraja Aradhana, a Carnatic music festival held annually during January – February atThiruvaiyaru, located 13 km (8.1 mi) away from the city

Brihadeswara Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located in Thanjavur in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is also known as RajaRajeswara Temple Rajarajeswaram and Brihadeshwara Temple. It is one of the largest temples in India and is an example of Tamil architecture during the Chola period. Built by Raja Raja Chola I and completed in 1010 CE, the temple turned 1000 years old 

Agriculture in Thanjavur
Agriculture in Thanjavur is the main source of livelihood for most of the people of Thanjavur. Cultivation has been the major occupation of the local inhabitants of Thanjavur since the land is ideally suited for growing crops like rice and wheat. 

Thanjavur is known as the "Rice bowl of Tamil Nadu". Paddy is the crops and the other crops grown are blackgram, banana, coconut, gingelly, ragi, red gram, green gram, sugarcane and maize.
Thanjavur is a dealtaic region where rice is the major food crop that is grown in the fields. Rice production has increased in the recent years and thus it is being largely exported to the neighboring states, which is further boosting up the economy of Thanjavur.

Kaveri River and its tributaries irrigate the district. Apart from paddy, farmers here grow coconut and sugarcane and it is the largest producer of coconut in Tamil Nadu. Being an agrarian economy, industrial growth in the district is mainly confined to agro-based industries. A large number of Rice mills, Oil mills are spread over the district. 

Thanjavur Kitchen & Utensils

Cooking food in clay pots is part of many cultures worldwide. It is generally called 'manchatti' or 'currychatti' and it comes in various shapes and sizes. One of the oldest methods of cooking.Veg and Fish curries are made in these manchattis.

Eeya Chombu is a vessel made of tin. Tin has a low melting point of 232°C. Therefore using this in the kitchen needs dedication. You can never multi task when making rasam in this vessel else if the melting point is achieved you will be left with a mass of shiny silver metal and the burners flooded in rasam. The secret to this rasam is as much the dedication as the metallic sweet taste imparted to it. It is always first filled with the ingredients of the rasam before it goes onto the fire and that includes water too. It is due to the low melting point of the vessel the seasoning is done in a separate utensil and added on top in the vessel filled with boiled rasam.

Kallu Chatti , soap stone Vessel is an ancient style of preserving food. These carved out soap stone vessel has been used traditionally to preserve food items like pickles. It is a natural way of keeping food fresh , tasty and healthy. Traditional Kitchen Utensils Kal Chatti. It is an essential part of every traditional South Indian home. Dishes cooked and preserved in these handmade stone carved out vessel retain the freshness of food added to the health benefits they provide

'Uruli'(உருளி)is a traditional cookware extensievly used in South India. It is also pronounced as Urli and commonly made of clay, copper and bronze. The name Uruli is derived from the Tamil word "Urulai" [உருளை] which means a round bowl. Urulis were used in home for cooking and in ayurvedha to make medicines. Now Urulis are used as a decorative bowl to float flowers which is a part of South Indian tradion.

Thanjorean Feast
   In Thanjavur iyer house holds food served is in a sequential pattern. The meal starts with cooked rice consumed with paruppu(cooked lentil called tuvar dal) and ghee, Then rice with sambar(thick lentil soup with vegetables) accompanied by a vegetable curry, followed with rice and rasam( thin watery soup) and it ends with rice and yogurt accompanied by a spicy pickle/ narthelai podi( a powder made with tender citron leaves)/ small mangoes in brine solution called vadu mangai.

Typical Thanjavur breakfast
 Dosa is a type of pancake-crepe made from a fermented batter. Its main ingredients are rice and black gram. Dosa is a typical part of the South Indian diet and popular all over the Indian subcontinent.

 Sevai or shyavige or santhakai is a type of rice vermicelli popular in Southern India, particularly Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Santhakai is made out of other food grains like wheat, ragi, etc. also are increasingly becoming popular.

       Venn (Old Tamil word for white) pongal is a popular dish in South Indian homes and is typically served as a special breakfast in parts of South India, especially Tamil Nadu , Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

   Idli is a traditional breakfast in South Indian households. Idli is a savoury cake that is popular throughout India and neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka. 

  Mani Kozhukatai are steamed rice dumplings which have been seasoned with a traditional south Indian tempering.

 Thavala Adai are pancakes made of lentils and rice batter. The adai usually contains onions and chillis in the batter and is served with chutney. The batter is made from rice, Urad dal, bengal gram and toor dal.

Thanjavur specialties

 Mor Kootu is a vegetable and curd based stew. Generally vegetables belonging to the gourd family is used and this is served as equivalent to the sabji of the north Indian menu along with sambhar.

Finely chopped beans are cooked along with lentils spices and curry leaves to make the paruppu usili.

Keerai masiyal is a dish typical to Thanjavur. Green leafy vegetables are cooked along with lentils in a clay pot along with ghee

Mor Kozhumbu is dish in which vegetables are cooked with buttermilk to make a curry with is inherently sour and is generally eaten with plain steamed rice

Poricha Kootu is lentil stew made by cooking lentelis suchs as toor dal with vegetables and tomatoes and soured with tamarind. Any kootu is generally finished with a helping of freshly grated coconut.

Uttapam or ooththappam or Uthappa is a dosa-like dish made by cooking ingredients in a batter. Unlike a dosa, which is crisp and crepe-like, uttapam is a thick pancake, with toppings cooked right into the batter

Vepampoo rasam is a rasam made with the addition of dried neem flowers to the rasam. Rasam, chaaru, saaru or kabir is a South Indian soup, traditionally prepared using tamarind juice as a base, with the addition of tomato, chili pepper, pepper, cumin and other spices as seasonings.

Vatha Kuzhambu is one of the traditional dish of South India. A spicy tangy dish that is made with tamarind extract and mostly shallots or even sometimes veggie. It is served with rice and some mild curry as a side.


Pulihora, Puliyodarai, Puliyogare or simply Tamarind Rice is a common rice preparation in the South Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Generally rice is mixed with a paste of Tamrind extract which has been seasoned and tempered.

Thengai sadam or simply Coconut Rice is a common rice preparation in the South Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Cooked rice is mixed with a paste of flavoured and tempered grated coconuts.

 Thanjavur Sweets and Desserts
Pal payasam is a rice pudding from the cuisine of the Kaveri River delta and whole of India also, made by boiling rice, broken wheat, tapioca, or vermicelli with milk and sugar; it is flavoured with cardamom, raisins, saffron, cashews, pistachios or almonds.

Akkara adisal or akkaravadisal is an authentic iyengar recipe, which is generally made during the month of Margazhi. Rice and lentils are cooked together in milk and they mixed with jaggery syrup.

Sural Poli are an authentic sweet delicacy from the Kaveri Delta region. Suitable for festive seasons. Sugar syrup coated crispy pooris with a sweet coconut and roasted gram filling.

Kozhukatta or Kozhukkattai is a popular South Indian sweet dumpling made from rice flour, with a filling of grated coconut and jaggery. It is similar to modak made in other parts of India.

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