Explore Kongunadu in its cuisine...

 A recipe has no soul. You, as a cook,bring soul to the recipe. Though the recipe is same, taste differs from place to place. It all lies in the region where the recipe came from, and that becomes the cuisine.

FoodCulture team’s first exploration is savoring Kongunadu cuisine. Northwest region of Tamilnadu is called Kongunadu. Salem, Erode, Coimbatore, Ooty etc. comes under Kongunadu. Vast the region, equally the cuisine is.

Before we go into details, FoodCulture wanted to dedicate this article to Late. Chef Jacob Sahaya Aruni, who did an extensive research on Kongunadu cuisine and revived. He served Kongunadu cuisine to dignitaries at a week-long official dinner at Rashtrapathi Bhavan during Abdul Kalam’s term of office .

FoodCulture team headed to Kongunadu to know the cuisine in detail. We tried our best to contact local people and experience authentic Kongu food in their homes. But pandemic didn’t permit us and left us to look for some authentic food joints which serve Kongu cuisine.  

Our exploration started with breakfast at Junior Kuppanna, famous for its kongu food. Junior Kuppanna has lot of Kongu food to offer. We are served Erode Style Dosai (Fluffy on the top and crispy at the bottom) with Mutton gravy and chicken kothu parotta. Having dosa with mutton gravy is a different experience and indeed tasty too. Next we had chicken kothu parotta, which is also a local dish to the region. The blend of parotta with chicken gravy smashed on a tawa and added tempering is served with curd/raita. Though the amount of spices and masala used are very minimal, it can be felt in each byte. That's the specialty of Kongu food. We finished the breakfast with a gulp of paneer soda. Goli Soda brought back the childhood memories, when we struggled to release the marble and have soda. 

Left: Dosa with mutton gravy, Chicken Kothu Parotta with Raita. Right: Paneer Goli Soda

Special thanks to Mr. Karthik(operates Junior Kuppanna in North-Coimbatore) for giving this experience. Karthik says "we keep the traditional recipe unchanged and work on improving the taste as per the customer feedback. Primary ingredients available in this region play a major role in bringing up the taste. Best turmeric of India is produced in this region and Siruvani water(world's second sweetest water) are few examples".  

Without wasting any time we headed to Kongunadu Parampariya Mansatti Varuval(KPMV) located near Tiruppur to experience the traditional Kongu style of cooking. Coconut plantations are abundant in this region, which is clearly visible on our way to Tiruppur.

Use of firewood, earthen pots, mortar&pestle are common in traditional cooking. True to the name, food is cooked and served in traditional way at KPMV. Shallots and red chilies are the basic yet main ingredients in many of the Kongu meat recipes which is clearly visible in the kitchen. We watched the making of chicken pallipalayam. Fresh coconut is additional ingredient along with shallots and red chilli.

    Coming to food, we had rice with Chicken pallipalaym, Chicken Chintamani, Naatu Kozhi kulambu(Country chicken), mutta poriyal(egg), karavattu kulambu(Fish gravy), pachaipuli rasam, Thakkali rasam, Masala curd. Chicken Pallipalayam, Chintamani and pachaipuli rasam are the famous kongu dishes. We don't find enormous masala or spices used in preparation of this dishes. 

Though masala curd is commonly available everywhere, the taste we got in KPMV is totally different from the regular masala curd. Curd and shallots acquired the color from turmeric and turned yellowish. It just turned out to be yellowish cream with highlighted red chili in the middle. 

Special thanks to Ramu and his team from KPMV who introduced us to authentic kongu food in traditional way. 

With this our exploration on Day 1 came to an end.

Next day we prepared ourselves for a big fat wedding. But the team isn't attending any wedding. We went to Valarmathi Kongunaatu samayal, located in the race course road. The reason for calling it a big fat wedding is because of its enormous food options you get here. It was started in 1986 by Late R. Jayaram with very less seating capacity. 30 years down the lane, it has become a hotspot of kongu food in Coimbatore.

We had a warm welcome from Mr. Rajan(S/O of late Jayaram), who now look after valarmathi. Since we have already experienced the kongu cuisine on day 1, we didn't find it difficult in understanding the kongu food and its roots.

"The people of kongu region loves simple meals with two or three meat dishes like mutton chukka, naatu kozhi kulambu. One thing to note is that the kongu cuisine is simple and remained same all these years. People started adding new dishes to existing cuisine. Shallots and red chilies are still the primary ingredients" said Mr.Rajan.  


We had Chicken Pallipalayam, Pichu pota kozhi, Kongu Naatu Kozhi kozhambu, Mutton keema ball, Mutton Chuka, Vanjaram shallow fry, Nethli and mutton biryani made of seeraga samba rice. Tradition of eating in banana leaf is still in practice here(Banana leaf contains polyphenols, called as cancer preventing agents). With this our kongu food exploration came to an end. 

Some of the key features of Kongu Cuisine are

  • Kongunadu cuisine is a collection of recipes from more than 50 places of Tamil Nadu. So each  and every recipe have its own nativity and style.
  • Kongunadu Cuisine doesn’t involve marination. This brings a unique taste to the food. 
  • Kongu region is abundant in Turmeric. So people freshly grate it before cooking.
  • Use of oil and spices is very low in Kongu cuisine. Where as coconut is highly used in some parts of Kongu region. It tenderize the meat.
  • Shallots and red chilies are the primary ingredients.
  • People love making their own masala with locally available ingredients. Hence the cuisine imparts the nativity.

With all these in consideration, Kongunadu Cuisine stands unique from the other available cuisines.

We have spent two days in Kongu region and got a little knowledge on the Cuisine. This is just tip of the iceberg. Many more dishes are unexplored during our visit which will be covered in near future...

Hope you have enjoyed the article. See you in next cuisine.


Pichi Potu Kozhi

Vanjaram fry

Parotta

Kothu Parotta

Naatu Kozhi Kulambu

Nethli

Mutton keema balls

Mutton Chuka

Chicken Chintamani

Chicken Pallipalayam

Mutton Biryani

Masala Curd

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3 comments

  1. Superb guys.. glad to see my native foods explained so ... waiting for next publish

    ReplyDelete
  2. Waiting to taste it guys thanks a lot for introducing such cultural foods of great hindustani. Keep going guys

    ReplyDelete
  3. I loved this concept, looking forward to read more articles from you. Happy eating 🍲 🍱

    ReplyDelete