“You are vegetarian?” Everyone’s face falls, some shake their heads in disapproval or dismay. But there I am, exploring Chettinad and wanting to eat authentic local food. The Chettiar community has been known for its fiery cuisine and that notion has somehow attached itself firmly to cooking from that region. But the truth is that their food is not so much spicy as it is flavourful. Each meal is a delicate mix of different subtle tastes.
Just to give an idea on what I ate there (vegetarians have enough options, so there…)
This is breakfast at the beautifully restored Visalam – dosa with three varieties of chutney (coconut, coriander and tomato), paniyaram (in some places it is also called appam) and idiyappam (string hoppers) eaten with slightly sweet coconut milk.
And this, lunch at The Bangala, the first of the Chettinad mansion hotels. The meal served on banana leaves is a huge spread, against a play of various flavours and the badam halwa is to die for. And they feed till you beg them to stop.
I am working on a larger piece on Chettinad – will update here when it appears…