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iXiGOers Dec 09 2012

Which are the popular local food items in Tiruchirappalli?

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In a city with a thundering history it’s no surprise that the cuisine is as traditional as they come, prepared and cooked elaborately and leisurely and served in traditional style and ambience. Defined with the ubiquitous label of South Indian cuisine, with rice as the main dish and base, legumes and lentils are used extensively, either as accompaniments or as independent, main dishes. Dairy products, especially cream and milk, are essential ingredients  and added along with tamarind, the preferred souring agent in South Indian cuisine.


The magical, tantalizing aroma of every dish that wafts your way and seems to seep in through all your senses, is achieved by the blending of flavourings and spices including ginger, garlic, curry leaves, mustard seeds, pepper, cinnamon, green cardamom, nutmeg, cumin, rosewater, coconut, coriander, chilli and cloves.The ways these spices and condiments are added at different stages of cooking is an ancient art in itself. If you ever get the opportunity to watch the blending of spices you might find yourself wondering when the dish is about to self-combust.


Idli (like a cake, round and thick, made with fermented rice and legume flour (urad), shaped and then steamed), Dosa (flat bread made with flours, rice, wheat or legumes, cooked like a pancake and filled with a spicy mixture), Rasam rice (prepared with tamarind juice or tomato, pepper and other spices, lentils are added by some along with vegetables. It is eaten with rice or alone, as a soup), Curd rice (prepared by mixing boiled rice with yogurt, sometimes decorated with pomegranate seeds and fried curry leaves) are some of the traditional dishes of Tiruchirappalli.


If you are wondering whether it’s just vegetarian fare that dominates the menu, then you would be right as Tamil Nadu is the true home for Indian vegetarianism. However, non-vegetarians do not despair as though the dishes that typically define the local cuisine might be vegetarian, but there is equally wide range of non-vegetarian specialities to choose from. One such dish is Spicy chicken biryani, prepared by adding a combination of, yes, spices and flavoring with rice and boiling it. Chicken pieces are then mixed to the boiled food and kept in a closed vessel with heat applied to the vessel, usually on top of the metallic lid. If mutton has been added instead of chicken, the dish is called mutton biriyani. Fish fry, sliced fish soaked with flavor and spices and fried in a frying pan and Vatral Kuzhambu, hot sausage cooked with garlic and spices and used in addition or as a substitute to sambar, are the other two non-veg dishes to look out for.

Pongal: You might find some making it sweet while some salty. Pongal is actually made in 2 ways-sakarai pongal (sweet pongal) and ven pongal (spicy pongal).


Then there are the dishes or desserts infused with sugary, milky divineness. For those with a sweet tooth might want to try the Jalebi (sugary tasting fried snack), Badusha (snack with sugary coating and sweet interior), Payasam (made of rice or semia or pulses with a sweet taste and used as a desert), Pineapple kesari (made of rava (starchy granulated powder) , ghee(heated butter), cashew nuts, almonds and pista with sugar) and Halwa (slightly gelatinous, made from flour, typically semolina with butter, sugar and nuts.

A combination plate, with a sampling of idli, vada and some rasam and sambhar on a bed of white rice, followed with payasam, is a foolproof way to go.

Visit Tiruchirappalli and take away food memories with you-smells and tastes that will not only linger long after the meal is over, but also create desperate cravings once the holiday is over and who knows, the reason you come back again.

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