Where is the cuisine from?
Spice Route specializes in cuisine that is primarily from the Southern states of India, which include Tamil Nadu (where most of our chefs are from), Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.
The South is inhabited by about 300 million people with an unofficial count that is probably much higher. People of South Indian descent are found all over South Asia including Sri Lanka and Malaysia Geographically, South India’s coastal plains are backed by a ridge of low mountains, called the Western and Eastern Ghats that in turn lead to the Deccan Plateau, which occupies much of the central Southern peninsula.
The similarities in the four states’ cuisines are the presence of rice as a staple food, the use of lentils and spices, the use of dried red chillies and fresh green chillies, coconut and native fruits and vegetables like tamarind, plantain, snake gourd, garlic, ginger, etc.
Described as the spiciest of these four states’ cuisines, there is a generous use of chilli powder, oil and tamarind. The cuisine has a great variety of dishes, with the majority being vegetable or lentil based. Hyderabad, the capital of Andhra Pradesh, has its own characteristic cuisine considerably different from other Andhra cuisines. The Nizams patronised the Hyderabadi cuisine, which is very much like the Nawabs of the Avadh with Lucknow cuisine. The only difference is that the Nizams of Hyderabad liked their food to be spicier, resulting in the Hyderabadi cuisine which included the Kacche Gosht ki Biryani and the Dum ka Murgh, Baghare Baingan and Achaari Subzi during the reign of the Nizams.
Karnataka cuisine is very diverse. Described as the mildest in terms of spice content of these four states’ cuisines, there is a generous use of Jaggery, palm sugar and litle use of chilli powder. Since the percentage of vegetarians in Karnataka is higher than other southern states, vegetarian food enjoys widespread popularity. Udupi cuisine forms an integral part of Karnataka cuisine.
The diversity is best classified on the basis of the various communities. Most of the food is vegetarian but with the higher Christian and Muslim population than other states, non-vegetarian dishes are also common. The Hindus, especially the Namboodris and Nairs have a predominantly vegetarian cuisine, whilst the Christian and the Muslim communities have a largely non-vegetarian cuisine. The Syrian Christian dishes and Malabari Muslim dishes are famous. Since Kerala’s main export is coconuts, almost all of the dishes, irrespective of the variety in the cuisines of the different communities, have coconuts associated with them, either in the form of shavings or oil extracted from the nut. Seafood is also very popular in the coastal regions and eaten almost every day.
A typical Tamil meal consists of many spicy and non-spicy dishes and is predominantly vegetarian. Many of these dishes are typically mixed and eaten with steamed rice, which is the staple food of the region. Tamil cuisine groups dishes under five slightly overlapping categories. First are the dishes that necessarily are mixed with rice; various Kuzhambu, Sambhar, Paruppu, Rasam, Thayir, Kadaiyals and the likes belong to this category.
The second are the side dishes that accompany such mixtures; Kootu, Kari, Poriyal, Pickles, Papads fall into this category. Third are the short snacks and their accompaniments; vadai, bonda, bajji, soups, various chutneys, thayir pachadi and the likes belong to this category. The fourth category is usually the rich, sweet dishes that serve as desserts; Payasam, Kheer, Kesari and a plethora of Indian sweets belong to this category.
The fifth category includes “tiffin”, or light meals. This include various types of idlis, various types of dosai, poori, types of pongal, types of uppma, idiyappam, aappam, adai, parotta, paniyaram, etc. Preparations from the fifth category are served for breakfast and dinner, usually not as midday meal. Tamil cuisine mainly offers light breakfast, lighter dinner, a heavy midday meal and evening snacks, often served with tea or coffee..
An everyday Tamil meal, usually taken midday, consists of at least three to four courses, with steamed rice serving as the staple. The food usually starts with some paruppu (steamed, mashed lentils in a gravy) and ghee; this mix is eaten with rice and serves as an appetizer. The second to follow would be a kuzhambu or sambhar; mixed with rice, this is usually the main course. On leisure or festive days, there would be at least two such main courses with one Kuzhambu (Puli Kuzhambu, Vatha Kuzhambu and the likes) variety and one Sambhar variety. Third to follow will be the Rasam; again, mixed with rice, one usually eats this accompanied by crisps.
The last of the courses will invariably be rice with curd or yoghurt; this is usually taken along with pickles. Throughout the meal, the side dishes are served and eaten with the courses, depending upon one’s taste or choice; side dishes are constantly replenished during any meal. As a last course, the desserts are served. Finally guests retire to the living room and conclude the meal with banana and freshly made paan consisting of betel leaves, betel nuts and lime. paan is considered a digestive aid.
What is curry?
Curry is a generic description used throughout Western culture to describe a variety of dishes from Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, Thai or other Southeast Asian cuisines. The chief spices found in most South Asian curry powders are turmeric, coriander, and cumin; a wide range of additional spices may be included depending on the geographic region and the foods being included (white/red meat, fish, lentils, rice and vegetables).
Curry’s popularity in recent decades has spread outward from Southern Asia to figure prominently in international cooking. Consequently, each culture has adopted spices in its indigenous cooking to suit its own unique tastes and cultural sensibilities. Curry can therefore be called a pan-Asian or global phenomenon with immense popularity in Thai, British, Japanese and Caribbean cuisines