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Food and Dining in South India

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 2087 words Published: 7th Aug 2018

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Indian Cuisine

The cuisine of India is characterized by use of various spices,herbs and other vegetables grown in India we have widespread practice of vegetarianism across different section of society. Each society of Indian cuisine is characterized by a wide variety of dishes and cooking techniques. As a result, cuisine varies from region to region across Indian subcontinent.

India’s religious beliefs and culture has made an influential role in the evolution of different cuisine. However, the spice trade between India and Europe is the main catalyst for Europe’s Age of Discovery. 4 The colonial period has introduced the European cooking styles to India which added the flexibility and diversity of Indian cuisine.5,6Indian cuisine has had a major impact on cuisines across the world, mainly those from Southeast Asia.7,8

Indian foods is the long standing vegetarianism across sections of India’s Hindu, Buddhist and Jain communities. People who follow strict vegetarian make up 20-42% of the population in India, while less than 30% are of regular meat-eaters.9,10,11

South Indian food is categorized into six tastes – sweet, sour, salt, bitter, pungent and astringent and traditional Tamil cuisine society recommends that you should always include all of these six tastes in each of the main meal you eat. All the six taste has a balancing ability and including some of each taste provides complete nutrition, minimizes cravings and also balances the appetite and digestion.

  • Sweet such as Milk, butter, sweet cream, wheat, ghee (clarified butter), rice, honey.
  • Sour such as Limes and lemons, citrus fruits, yogurt, mango, tamarind.
  • Salty such as Salt or pickles.
  • Bitter such as Bitter gourd, greens of many kinds, turmeric.
  • Pungent such as Chili peppers, ginger, black pepper, clove, mustard.
  • Astringent such as Beans, lentils, turmeric, vegetables like cauliflower and cabbage.

South Indian Breakfast

InSouthIndia, the breakfast consist of main dishes, such asidlis,vadas,dosas,uppuma, savorypongal, andchapatis. These are served with hotsambar, kurma ,vadacurryand at least one kind ofchutneyare the common items inTamilnadu. All the breakfast accompanied with a tumbler of filter coffee.

South Indian Lunch/Dinner

An everyday Tamil meal will have at least three to four courses, with rice serving as the staple. The food usually starts with the traditional paruppu andghee, this mix is eaten with rice which serves as an appetizer. Next to follow would be a kuzhambuorsambhar , which is mixed with rice, this is usually the main course. On leisure or festive days, we have at least two such main courses with one Kuzhambu in which there are many varity such as Puli Kuzhambu, Vatha Kuzhambu, currykuzhambuvariety and one Sambhar variety. Third to follow will be theRasam in which there are many varity such as paruppu rasam,tomatto rasam, nandu rasam they are mixed with rice, one usually eats this with crisps. The last of the courses will be rice with curd or yoghurt; this is usually taken withdifferent pickles such as mangopickle ,pundupickle,tomattopickel,erapickel,muttonpickel. With all the courses side dish is served throughout the meal, depending upon one’s taste or choice,side dishes are constantly repeated during any meal. As a last course, desserts are served. Finally guests moves to the living room which conclude the meal with banana and freshly madepaanconsist of betel leaves, betel nuts and lime. paan is considered as a digestive aid after long lunch.

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Typical Marrage food of Tamil cuisine groups dishes under four slightly overlapping categories. First the rice is served with various Kuzhambu,Sambhar,Paruppu,Rasam,Thayir,Kadaiyals. The second are the side dishes that accompany rice mixture such asKootu,Kari,Poriyal,Pickles,Papadsfall into this category.Thirs is the short snacks -vadai,chips,bonda,bajji,soups, variouschutneys,thayir pachadiand the likes belong to this category. The fourth category is rich sweet dishes that serve as desserts-Payasam,Kheer,Kesariand a plethora of Indian sweets belong to this category. Typical South Indian meal (Lunch or Dinner) will be served on a banana leaf.

South Indian Desserts

Indian desserts are unique very tempting and mouth watering. Whether Its summer or a winter ,South indian mithai is always too difficult for anyone to resist. A full traditional South Indian Meal is always incomplete without sweet dish like gulab jamun or kulfi or halwa. Below are some of the most famous recipes to tantalize your tongue.

Badam Ka Halwa,Badam Kheer,Besan Burfi,Besan Laddo,Boondi Ka Laddoo,Coconut Burfi,Fruit Kheer ,Gulab Jamun, Jalebi ,Puran Poli , Rasmalai and many more.

South Indian Drinks

Coffeeis the most popularbeverage in South india. Coffee is a major social institution in Southern Indian Tamil tradition one can say a normal south Indian cannot live without drinking atleast one coffee a day. One of the Tamil traditional coffee is Chennai Filter Coffee and is unique in this part of the world. In South India people generally use gourmet coffee beans of the premiumPeaberryor the less expensive Arabica variety. The making of unique filter coffee is first the coffee beans are roasted and then powdered. Sometimes traditional people add chicory to enhance the aroma. They then use a filter set to separate the coffee powder dust, few spoons of powdered coffee, enough boiling water is added to prepare a very dark liquid which is called the decoction. A 3/4 mug of hot milk is added with sugar, a small quantity(depends of the people taste) of decoction is then served in Dabarah/Tumbler set which is a unique Coffee cup.

Another popular beverage is strongly brewedteawhich is found in the thousands of smalltea stallsacross thestate of Tamil Naduand adjoining areas.

Etiquette of Indian Dining

As like in many cultures, eating and drinking are very important and widely respected across Indian culture, local customs, traditions, and religions. Etiquette varies in different cultures across India, in this paper we can consider the etiquette of Traditional South Indian culture.

Use Of Cutlery

Though Indian cooking uses variety of specialized utensils for various purposes, South Indians do not usecutleryfor eating , as many foods such as Indianbreadsandnon vegetarian curry are best enjoyed when eating with the hand. The traditional reason of eating with hands is: Food is divine and needs to be enjoyed with feel of touch, smell and taste. There is no joy in using a knife and fork to eat while eating.

Eating with one’s hands is a art that can be quite clean when it is done correctly, but may require a bit of practice. First, the hands must be washed properly, with particular attention paid to the fingernails. Traditionally having long fingernails in India is considered unhygienic.

Using the fingers, the food should be scooped easily onto the flatbread such naan,roti, etc and quickly brought to the mouth. It is considered bad manner to let your food stain outside of your fingers or palm while eating and food should be eaten only with the tip of the fingers, though it is okay to use more of your hand. The plate is not to be touched and held by the left hand while eating.

Not all the foods should be eaten with the hands, however. If the food is soupy, such asdaals, spoons  should be used 13.Additionally, foods such asricemay be eaten with spoons , in case of formal occasions as in a restaurant or in a buffet where food is not served on banana leaf.

Traditional South Indian cutlery does not recognize the use of forks and knives while eating, limiting their use to the kitchen only. Spoons were used to eat rice in formal situation. Additionally, spoons are usually too used in a clasping motion and forks are commonly used to distribute foods from a communal dish, as it is considered very rude to touch the foods of others.

Adapted cutlery use in India

Amongst the upper class Indians, cutlery which has been adopted since Roman influence in the late 16th centuryis now in common use, the Romans exports of pepper lead to the introduction of cutlery in India. Amongst the upper class communities spoons and forks have been adopted from roman.

Etiquette of hands

The important rule of dining is to always use the right hand when eating or receiving food and never the left hand. The left hand is mostly considered as unclean, so it is advisable to use the left hand for cutlery to take food from the dish onto your plate. In rare occasion the use of the left hand is acceptable when eating onions and some other accompaniments. Only in some communities, it is now acceptable for left-handed individuals to eat with their left hands.

Beef and Pork

As Hindus in South India consider the cattle to be a sacred animal and beefis considered as taboo. Muslims consider thepigas uncleanand they do not eatpork, which is not generally used in Hindu cooking.

Other Etiquette

In formal situation, it is expected that everyone will wait for the host or the eldest person in which, the elder taking priority over the host to begin eating before everyone else starts. It is compulsory to wash their hands before sitting at the table as some South Indian foods are eaten by hand. It is not necessary to taste each and every dish prepared while eating, but you must finish everything served on the plate as it is considered a respect for served food.

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‘Echal’ (in Tamil Nadu), ‘echil’ is a common belief in India. ‘Echal’ is essentially, something which has come in contact with your mouth, your saliva or your plate while eating, something which is directly or indirectly came in contact with your saliva. It is considered as extremely rude and unhygienic to offer someone your ‘Echal’. However, not uncommon for spouses, or extremely close friends or family, to offer each other their ‘Echal’, and it is not considered as disrespectful under such circumstances. In fact, in some cases sharing ‘Echal’ may be considered as a sign of closeness 13.

As most of the South Indian foods are eaten with their hands, it is important to make sure that one’s drinking glass should not become messy because it feels others uncomfortable. It is impolite to leave the table until others have finished or the host requests you. South Indian meals are served on a banana leaf so it must be cleaned with warm water. Vegetables must be placed on the top half of the leaf, and rice, sweets, and snacks on the other half of the leaf. The banana leaf should not be left open after completing the meal. It should be folded in such a way that the top half closes over the bottom half of the leaf. If the bottom half is folded over the top of the leaf, it is usually considered disrespectful, as this is done only in solemn situations in which one hopes it will not occur again, such as a death.


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