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Chettinad cuisine is the cuisine of the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu state in South India. The Chettiar community, who are a majority in this region, are a very successful trading community. Chettinad cuisine is one of the spiciest and the most aromatic in India.
Chettinad cuisine is famous for its use of a variety of spices used in preparing mainly non-vegetarian food. The dishes are hot and pungent with fresh ground masalas, and topped with a boiled egg that is usually considered essential part of a meal. They also use a variety of sun dried meats and salted vegetables, reflecting the dry environment of the region. The meat is restricted to fish, prawn, lobster, crab, chicken and lamb. Chettiars do not eat beef and pork.
Most of the dishes are eaten with rice and rice based accompaniments such as dosais, appams, idiyappams, adais and idlis. The Chettinad people through their mercantile contacts with Burma, learnt to prepare a type of rice pudding made with sticky red rice.
Chettinad cuisine offers a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Some of the popular vegetarian dishes include idiyappam, paniyaram, vellai paniyaram, karuppatti paniyaram, paal paniyaram, kuzhi paniyaram, kozhakattai, masala paniyaram, adikoozh, kandharappam, seeyam, masala seeyam, kavuni arisi & athirasam.
In Chettinad food, the most important spices are maratti mokku (dried flower pods), anasipoo (star aniseed) and kalpasi (a lichen known as the "black stone flower" or Patthar Ke Phool, also known as dagad phool). In addition, tamarind, whole red chillies, and sombu (fennel seed) are also used along with pattai (cinnamon), lavangam (cloves), bay leaf, karu miLagu (peppercorn), jeeragam (cumin seeds), and venthayam (also called mendhiyam) (fenugreek).
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- New Delhi, India November/ December 2011 Afar page 38
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