Tamil Nadu meals


A balanced meal should have grains, vegetables, fruits and protein worked into it. A typical South Indian Tamil Nadu meals consist of rice, served with a lentil based gravy like sambar with vegetables on the side. Yogurt is an essential part of the meal. A banana after the meal is not at all unusual. So, without knowing the definition of a balanced meal, our ancestors have provided us the same!

In olden days, families were much larger in number and there weren’t any appliances to make life easy.  A simple meal presented in a plate had a lot of effort behind it. This explains the bigger meals as appetite is worked up because of a labor intensive lifestyle.

The meals were three course. Rice is the staple food and star of the meal. The first round is rice served with sambar. The second course is rice and rasam.  The third course is rice and yogurt with which you wind up the meal. For the first two courses, one or two simple vegetable preparations are on the side. Potatoes are treated like vegetables, but people are conscious of the use and don’t make it for everyday meals. It’s almost like a treat now a days. Fried papads or appalams are also served as a side.

In the picture here, I have gone back to the meals we grew up eating. It shows rice, sambar, rasam, cluster beans porial, potatoes, yogurt, pickle and appalam.

With smaller families now, the meal has simplified a lot. Most of the days, rice is served with sambar or some other gravy with a vegetable on side. Tamil Nadu is incredibly hot and so the rice and yogurt course, which helps in cooling the body, still continues. So, to this day, the meal has rice for carbs, lentils and yogurt (and meat, in case of non vegetarian meal) for proteins and vegetables and rounds up as a balanced meal.


If you are wondering why I am preaching about a balanced meal here, the thing is I wrote the above as an article for Travel Secrets Magazine. It was published in Oct 2015 edition and I thought its a good idea for me to note it down here as well :D.


BM Theme: Dry vegetable side dishes

Potato fry recipe:

Serves : 2


  • 2 medium potatoes, cooked and cooled
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (or per taste)
  • good pinch turmeric powder
  • salt
  • 2 teaspoon oil


  1. Cook the potatoes until its just done. Peel and let it cool completely.
  2. Dice into pieces and set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a non stick pan. Add salt, turmeric powder and chili powder to the oil. Mix it in.
  4. Wait for a few moments, until the chili powder starts to change color from red to brownish.
  5. Add the diced potatoes. Let it get coated with the spiced oil and cook on low – medium flame until its roasted and has a crispy coating.
  6. Carefully keep turning it in between so that all the sides are fried equally. Serve with rice and sambar.


Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 58

Short, Sweet & Spicy : Pepper Rasam

Some things in life are short.

Some others are sweet. Some spicy.

Like this post. Short and sweet :-D

And the recipe shared here : an easy to make sweet, spicy and tangy Menasina Saaru (Pepper Rasam).

Enjoy it with Carrot Palya and Beans Palya, all cooked in 30 min flat!

My Blog Hop Partner for this month is Smitha from Kannada Cuisine. And my Blogging Marathon theme is 30 minute meals. So here is the best of both worlds, a simple meal that can be put together in 30 minutes – all chosen from Smitha’s space.

This menu needs a bit of planning so that everything gets cooked within 30 min. You need to start off with rice (and I always cook dal along with it). Once the rice is in the cooker, you need to prepare the rasam. While the rasam is boiling, you can start preparing the vegetables. When the veggies are in the MW, you can finish off the rasam and get the seasonings ready for the vegetables. It was easy for me since I was only cooking for two. If the quantities were higher, I am not sure I could have managed two side dishes.

Pepper Rasam


  • Tamarind paste             :         1 tsp
  • Jaggery                             :         1-2 tsp
  • Water                                :          3 cups approx
  • Coriander leaves           :         2 tbsp
  • Salt as required

Crush/Blend together:

  • Pepper                              :         1 tsp
  • Jeera                                  :         1 tsp
  • Garlic                                 :         2-3 cloves


  • Ghee                                   :         1 tbsp
  • Mustard seeds               :            1/2 tsp
  • Dry red Chillies             :           3
  • Curry leaves                   :           5-6
  • Hing                                   :            a pinch


  1. Add the tamarind paste and jaggery to 3 cups water. Bring it to a boil.
  2. Heat ghee in a separate pan. Add the seasoning (mustard seeds, red chillies, curry leaves and hing). Add the crushed pepper, jeera(cumin) and garlic to it. Take care not to burn it. Once its fragrant, tip it onto the tamarind water along with salt and coriander leaves. Let it boil for 3-5 minutes. Check salt and other seasoning and adjust accordingly.
  3. Serve hot with rice.

Carrot Palya

Serves 1 – 2.


  • Carrot               :      1 big (or beans :  10-15)
  • Coconut           :       1/4 cup
  • Salt
  • Oil                      :        1 tsp
  • lemon juice    :         1/2 tsp, optional


  • Mustard seeds    : 1/2 tsp
  • Urad dal          :      1/2 tsp
  • Chana dal       :       1/2 tsp
  • Red Chilies     :      1
  • Curry leaves


  1. Wash and clean the vegetable. Slice into circles or chop into small cubes. Microwave covered for 5 minutes, or until the veggies are cooked.
  2. Heat oil in a pan. Add the tempering items one after the other. Once they splutter, add the cooked carrots.
  3. Add salt and coconut and mix.
  4. Cook for a further minute, take off the heat and add lemon juice and serve.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#19

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Simple South Indian Thali – Tamil Nadu

Like it or not, we have to eat three times a day. Once the breakfast is over and you catch your breath, its time for lunch. And after a relaxed lunch, when you feel sleepy and at peace with the whole wide world, the stomach starts grumbling again.Time for dinner.

This cycle doesn’t stop. Its fine actually, I love eating different kinds of food. The snag is that I just don’t like cooking them. Not three times a day, seven days a week, four weeks a month (you get the idea).

So weekends are dedicated to restaurants. But after one point, your wallet and your stomach protest at the very thought. So when I need really good home made food, I turn to my mother in law. An awesome cook, even her everyday food is a mini thali. Like the thali here. It tastes as good as it looks too.

I made just that rasam so that I can post it here without any guilt.

Everyday Tamil Nadu Meals Menu:

  • Vegetable Dishes and Curries
    • Keerai Masial : Spinach cooked and mashed
    • Raw Banana Podimas : Cooked and grated raw bananas cooked with minimum spices
    • Rasam : Made with ginger and green chilies
    • Mor Kuzhambu : Yogurt based gravy, with ash gourd cooked in
  • Plain Rice
  • Dal
  • Sides
    • Banana Chips : Store bought, usually we have pappadom
    • Lemon Pickle : Home made
  • Sweet
    • Motichur ladoo : Store bought

Usually, rice is served with sambar/mor kuzhambu/ kuzhambu and a vegetable side dish. In some homes, two side dishes are common. A second course is with rice, rasam and the same vegetable side dish. Final round is rice and curd with pickle. Sweet is not common as part of regular meals.

Recipe adapted from here

Ingredients for Rasam:

  • Tamarind paste                    :          1 tsp
  • Toor dal                                  :           1/4 cup, cooked
  • Tomato                                   :           1, chopped fine
  • Ginger                                      :           1″ piece, chopped
  • Green Chilies                        :            1
  • Sambar powder                   :            2 tsp
  • Pepper powder                    :            1/2 tsp
  • Salt


  1. Mix the tamarind paste with two cups of water. Add the tomatoes, green chili, ginger, sambar powder, pepper powder, salt and bring it to a boil.
  2. Let it boil for 5-8 minutes, till the raw smell of tamarind goes away. Mash the tomatoes well with a ladle. Do a taste test and adjust seasonings and add one more cup of water, if required.
  3. Add the dal, let it boil for another 3-4 minutes and take off the heat.
  4. For tempering, heat one teaspoon of ghee in a small kadai. Add mustard seeds and a pinch of hing. Add 4-5 curry leaves and once it turns color, add it to the rasam. Serve hot with rice and papad.

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