Category: South Indian Cuisine

Kuttanadan Meen Curry

Kuttanadan Meen Curry
South Indian Cuisine

Kuttanadan Meen Curry

A staple from the southern Indian state of Kerala, this is a spicy and tangy preparation of fish which accentuates and brings together the rich flavours of coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek and red pepper.

The unique taste of the kuttanadan fish curry was made possible by an assortment of ingredients brought to Kerala by traders and migrants from China and Portugal in the late 18th century. Combined with the locally available fish the dish soon spread all across Kerala.

In fact the dish is so prevalent in Kerala, there is even a saying that goes “To teach a Keralite, how to cook fish curry, is like teaching a monkey, how to climb the trees.”

This dish is also common in tody shops. These small drinking establishments serve the traditional palm toddy, with served along with tapioca with this fish curry.

Chicken 65

Chicken 65
South Indian Cuisine

Chicken 65

Chicken 65 is a spicy, deep-fried chicken dish originating from the South Indian city of Chennai. The interesting fact about this dish are the different theories of its origin.

One theory suggests that Chicken 65 was invented by a gentleman called A.M. Buhari in the year 1965. It was introduced at the Buhari Hotel; a fine dining restaurant in Chennai which also offered other dishes like Chicken 78, Chicken 82, and Chicken 90.

A second theory, says Chicken 65 was made with 65 awfully spicy chillies. It was believed if you could finish off a whole plate of Chicken 65, it would be reflection on your true manhood.

Yet another theory tells about soldiers in a Chennai garrison canteen who were presented a long menu which had this dish against the serial number 65. Due to language barriers  the easiest way for soldiers to remember the dish was to refer to it as Chicken 65.

Then there are also absurd theories like the fact that the chicken was cut into 65 pieces or that the chicken was 65 days old or that the chicken was marinated for 65 days.

However, regardless of its origins, its crazy saltiness, crunchiness, and the punchy flavours of curry leaves, ginger, garlic, chillies and all the ingredients that make Chicken 65 unique South Indian dish.

Chicken Chettinad

Chicken Chettinad
South Indian Cuisine

Chicken Chettinad

A spicy chicken preparation of chicken marinated in yogurt, turmeric, a paste of red chillies, coconut, poppy seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, black pepper, ground nuts, onions and garlic.

The Chicken Chettinad is one of the most popular dishes from the traditional cuisine of Tamil Nadu’s Chettiar community. Generally synonymous with very spicy food, Chettinad cuisine is a complex blend of well-balanced flavours.

It is said in South India that one is lucky to eat like a Chettiar — a small costal community of traders, merchants and bankers who rose to prominence in Tamil Nadu during the reign of the Chola Empire between 3rd and 8th centuries. History tells us that the Chettiars played a key role in south India’s spice trade with countries like Burma, Java, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Mauritius.

Food was such an essential part of a Chettiar’s life, that the kitchen was one of the largest and most important places in each household. The womenfolk prepared elaborate meals – hand-pounding fragrant spices in stone grinders, chopping vegetables with the aruamanai (iron blade) and burning different firewood to develop specific flavours.

Traditional Chettinad dishes mostly used locally sourced spices like the star anise, pepper, a species of lichen and dried flower pod. Foreign ingredients and preservation techniques like sun-dried meats, berries, salted vegetables and pickles in brine also enriched the culinary repertoire of this well-travelled community.

Beef Ularthiyathu

Beef Ularthiyathu
South Indian Cuisine

Beef Ularthiyathu

This Kerala beef dish is the stuff of legend.

A slow-roasted beef dish with aromatic spices, coconut pieces, chillies and curry leaves, this delicacy is served in tiny nondescript shops all across the South Indian state of Kerala. These are places that don’t bother with unnecessary items like menus and anyone who enters the shop is served the beef ularthiyathu.

The dish is said to have originated in the kitchens of the Nasrani people of Kerala. Following one of the earliest forms of Christianity in the world, the Nasrani are descended from early Christians evangelised by Thomas the Apostle back in the 1st century. The uniqueness of their origins and their distinctive identity in Kerala contributed to their culinary principles.

With a wide range of flavours and routines and rituals of combination, the cuisine is not easy to understand. Even the way of serving and the sequences of dishes are quite complex. However they have a refinement of flavour very rarely experienced.

The Beef Ularthiyathu is one of their most famous dishes transcending class, culture and religion. In a country with a hindu majority like India, no-one would expect a beef dish to be so popular. But in Kerala the Beef Ularthiyathu is an intrinsic part of its identity.

Masala Dosa

Masala Dosa
South Indian Cuisine

Masala Dosa

A delicacy of the Tulu people of South India, these are rice and lentil crepes stuffed with a masala of potato and onions.

This is a variation of the popular South Indian dish called dosa. While its exact birthplace in that region is a matter of conjecture it is understood to have been created around 1500-2000 years ago. Someone decided that a fermented batter of rice and lentils could be tossed onto a griddle and roasted to crispy perfection. South India owes this person a debt of gastronomic gratitude.

Over the course of all those centuries, the simple dosa has travelled far and wide, first within the southern states of India — Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana and, Tamil Nadu — then within India and soon after, all across the globe.

Dosas are arguably the most versatile South Indian meal. They can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner or even for a quick snack. There are hundreds and possibly thousands of variations of this dish.

The most popular one being the signature dish of South India – the Masala Dosa.