Monday, September 13, 2010

Northies guide to a Tamizh wedding meal

Hey there,
When Vignesh came up with the idea of starting a team blog, he wanted each of us to take “roles” and write posts related to that. I had a really tough time zeroing on mine. And then we unanimously decided that I write on food being the hog I am. One look at me and you may come to the conclusion that I am one of those malnourished kids (or worse, anorexic teenage model wannabes). I don’t care about that but just don’t bet on it. I can prove you so wrong if I have the stomach to. I am definitely not a glutton. I can use my fork and knife when needed. Neither am I one of those gourmet-kinds. I never stop to think about the pani that goes into my puri.

Now that I have said enough about me, let’s get on with the post. The reason I am sitting here in front of my computer on a perfectly normal Monday morning is because my college chairman’s son is getting married! (OK, the exclamation was for the holiday we got. I really don’t care if he got married or laid). Tomorrow we have a “special” lunch at our mess and I am already excited! It is rumored to be edible for a change – in a typical Tamil wedding meal style.

Another blogger Venky was really concerned about how Indians on the other side of the Vindhyas remain oh-so-ignorant about the varieties in the Tamizh cuisine. So here is Keerthi’s guide to the Tamizh wedding meal. A Tamizh wedding meal includes dishes from every corner of India and even China, so food should not be a problem for those finicky eaters.

Meals in a tamizh wedding can be broadly classified into two – The Reception meal and the actual wedding meal. The reception meal is usually held in buffet style with most of the food items not being related to Tamil Nadu or even South India for that matter. It will definitely feature Punjab-da-puttars’ favourite Paneer Butter Masala to some least Chinese-influenced Vegetable Manchurian. Jeera rice and Butter naan are staples.

The main meal is the actual wedding meal. Depending on the muhoorth time and the budget of the brides’ father, the breakfast on the wedding day can be anything from a simple filter coffee to a heavy breakfast. Before we get on to the breakfast, you have to know how we Tamil people use cutlery – We don’t. At least at a wedding. Practice using your hands to eat food before hand if you don’t want a cheeky 5 year old shouting “aiyaya! Indha maamaku saapda kooda therila”*. Food is served on a banana leaf. Begin by washing the leaf, not at the hand wash but by sprinking some water on it. Supposed to work better than Dettol. Idly and Pongal will mostly fill your leaf. You will have variety between the three different types of chutney (coconut, tomato and coriander) or the molaga podi or sambar to eat your idly with. End the meal with a steaming cup coffee.

The lunch is the best part of a Tamizh wedding. After you follow the above said leaf sanitizing methods, the guys serving would first place some salt and pickle on the right end of your leaf. That is for the curd. So save it till the end. For some strange reason unknown, the side-dishes are served before the actual rice. It will have a porial - which is basically stir-fried veggies with mustard and coconut, avial – veggies cooked in curd and coconut milk (which is actually Keralite but who cares?) and a varuval meaning fry (which would mostly be potato). A cup of curd, paayasam and sweet will occupy the small green areas unoccupied on the “other end” of the leaf. The sweet can be a laddu or badam halwa or even a totally non South-Indianish rasagulla.

Then the rice is served. Divide it into two or three parts depending on how many courses you want to eat. Sambar is first, Rasam is next and curd is always last. Use all your five fingers minus the palm to mix it well with the rice and bring all the side dishes from the “other end” to “this end” little by little. The aim is to empty both ends simultaneously. End the meal by slurping the paayasam and chewing the beeda (no, not at once).

If you are lucky enough, you might get tiffin also, which would have the typical filter coffee and Mangalore Bonda (which like its name suggests is definitely not Tamizh)

Remember never to call the guy who is serving food by snapping your sambar soaked fingers or by shouting “waiter” unless you want to call off the wedding itself. That guy can be a really enthusiastic close relative of the poor souls getting married. Also don’t empty one particular dish before the others. It will definitely result in refilling which will spoil our ultimate goal of emptying the leaf. And if you are in doubt, follow the next person!

Next time you get invited to a Tamizh wedding, starve for a day and follow this tutorial. Happy Eating!

* - “Oh! Look! This Uncle doesn’t know how to eat!”


  1. In this leaf both the sides are equally green! You left out the banana piece which is served first. Btw I use my palm along with the fingers too!

  2. And the fact that you should not get startled hearing "slurrrrp" when four of five fingers go into the person's mouth.

  3. The Stupid's Guide to a Senthamizh Wedding!! :D

    Great post...

  4. what is this? food is ur forte? er...1 idli 1 hr girl thaana nee?
    and btw u forgot another important thing : "Vekka padama kettu vaangi saapadunga" Unlimited and free meals! :D

  5. wat abt Non- veg?

    P.S: If your a Veg.then the so-called special meals ,that is to be served tommorrow in your college, may be even worser than the one served for you in the induction Don't be excited abt it.

    P.P.S: if you are a non-veg, give a try..

  6. @Abhinav: Dude.. You don't know about her!! She once ate 8 chapatis at a friend's place.. That too in just half an hour...

    There is this theory of eating, which goes like this..

    Consumption time is inversely proportional to the quality of food.. :D

  7. Paneer Butter Masala n South Indian weddings! pah! Keerthz! terror thinking! V tamil ppl dont discriminate among states wen it comes 2 food, do v? :D n i thot u sed, food at ur coll was awes?

    @KP w/ regards 2 Abhinav's and Mr.Clairvoyant's comment - HAHAHA!! nyaayama KP! naan annikae sonnaen ippdillam aagumnu! :P

  8. @Venky - apparently food touching the palm is legal. my bad. :P

    @Vignesh - hehehe yeah! :D

    @Vinay - Who is stupid? ;) I am considering a Keerthi's guide to a Punjabi wedding meal real soon :D And thankyou for the support :D

    @Abhinav - That's why I advised my readers (?!) to starve for a day before the meal ;)

    @Ragul - I am vegan. But since I wrote about curd, paayasam and paneer butter masala, guess I can also write about tandoori chicken. Wait for it!
    I did not risk eating at namma mess on induction day. However kalyana saapadu was awesome! biriyani 2 servings, that ultra-sweet kesari with cherry bits 3 serving :D

    @Vandana - Trust you to find something cryptic when I least intend! And about food at my mess, you really should understand the usage of ":P" and also look up sarcasm.
    Macha, naan enna kandaen avan inga comment pannuvaanu? :D evlovo pathutom, idhayum paathurvom :D