The highly developed and sensitive palates of the Tamilians are well chronicled in the Sangam classics. They believe that food should ideally cater to all the six tastes - bitter, pungent, sweet, salty, sour and astringent.
Tamil Nadu has a wide variety of delicious food both for the vegetarians as well as the non-vegetarians, though most of it is made of grains, lentils, rice and vegetables. Spices are added to give a distinctive taste. Rice has been the staple diet of the Tamilians, an inculcated habit, due to the large-scale cultivation of the crop in the state.
Chettinad cuisine, a speciality in Tamil Nadu, is famous for its hot and spicy non-vegetarian food. A part of the Mudaliar community is non-vegetarians and its cuisine is delightfully spicy without being too hot. Wet masalas are generally used, the main ingredients being fresh coconut paste and ground ginger-garlic.
Split black gram skinless (dhuli urad dal) 1/4 cup
Split Bengal gram (chana dal) 1/4 cup
Mustard seeds 2 tablespoons
Whole dry red chillies 3 cups
Roasted chana dal (dalia) 1/4 cup
Asafoetida 3/4 teaspoon
Jaggery (gur) 1 teaspoon
Salt 1/2 cup
Clean sesame seeds and broil in a fry pan till they start popping. Remove and cool. Heat two tablespoons of oil and fry urad dal, chana dal and mustard seeds, separately, to a golden brown. Remove and cool.
Remove stalks from red chillies and fry them in two tablespoons of oil and cool. Do not allow them to turn black.
Once all these ingredients have cooled down, grind them with roasted chana dal asafoetida, jaggery and salt, to a coarse powder.
Cool and store in a dry airtight bottle. Mix this powder with liberal quantity of sesame oil or ghee and serve with your favorite snacks.
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