Chettinad is a place located in Sivaganga district, with some of its part in Pudukottai district of Tamil Nadu. It is spread around an area of 1,550 sq.km land, and consists of 74 villages spread around in clusters. The community of chettinad is called as chettiar, a caste of mercantile bankers. They were basically traders of salts and spices and hence its famous cuisine filled with a variety of spices.
Chettinad is well known for 19th century mansions. A visit to chettinad will give you an experience of the rich architecture of mansions with wide courtyards and spacious rooms decorated with marble and teak. These mansions used to be called nattukottai. Palatial homes are big houses, some have more than 100 rooms. And the entrance is on one street while the exit from the house will be on a parallel street. Few mansions are now converted into hotels and others are handed over to caretakers, who do the maintenance and have family visits during pongal and weddings. Just walking around in the mansions will give you an experience of explicit architecture and amuse you with such large spaces in a single mansion. As the community here used to travel to countries in South Asia, we can see few artifacts from those regions which are an add to the beautiful interior.
No doubt the Chettinad cuisine is a famous one, but there are few misconceptions which will be cleared. Chettinad cuisine is oily and spicy, no this is wrong. In Fact less oil is used and spices are added in limited amounts. The cuisine is mainly made by using more coriander seeds than chili. Chettinad cuisine is famous for spices and the spices which are used commonly are cumin, fenugreek, bay leaf, fennel, clove, tamarind, and turmeric. As it is famous for its mixed spices recipe, secret ingredients like dried flower pods and black stone flowers are used for the special chettinad taste. The vegetables and meats are dried to preserve the nutritional value and are served with idlis, idiyappam, dosais and rice. Buttermilk after lunch is also common. Non vegetarian food is eaten on wednesday and saturday by many families and most of the families are tamilian brahmins so vegetarian meals are available and have a variety. Number of fried items per meal are three, so less oily cuisine.
Certain rules are followed while serving the meal, like the number of food items will always be an odd number it will be 5,7 or 11 and the meal will be always served on a banana leaf. The meal is supposed to be started by paniyarams and chutney followed by veggies or meat then rice, sambhar and a curd rice and sweet item at the last.
As it is a coastal region, fish curry, prawn masala, crab masala are the famous dishes. These dishes are eaten with rice or dosais. Other famous cuisines includes, idiyappam, chicken chettinad, Paniyaram, Vellai Paniyaram, Kozhakattai, Urulai roast and vegetarian cuisines like Vazahaipoa Kozhambu, Soya Paneer vada, Cabbage poriyal and vellai kurma.
Chettinad cotton sarees:
Are you fond of sarees, and want to feel comfortable wearing a saree, then the chettinad sarees are the best option available for you. They are soft cotton sarees available in a variety of textures, designs and colours. The sarees are known as Kandaangi sarees. These sarees are woven with pit looms, with flying shuttle weaving technique. A typical Kandaangi saree will have horizontal and vertical stripes with a contrast colour border. Local communities are engaged in this handlooms and are keeping the cultural heritage of the saree alive by making it traditional with vibrant colours.