A Guide To The Cuisine Of Tamil Nadu With Chef Damu

A Tip For First-time Visitors To South India: Don’t Come Expecting The Rich And Cream-based ‘Indian Food’ To Which You’re Likely Accustomed At Home. Though North Indian Food May Be Best Known Abroad, South Indian Cooking Is Its Own Distinct Entity – And One That’s Well Worth Taking The Time To Properly Discover.


We Spoke With Chef Damodaran K, Fondly Known As Chef Damu, For An Insider’s Primer To The Cuisine Of Tamil Nadu, His Home State. Read On For His Culinary Introduction, His Must-try Dishes – And To Learn More About His Record-breaking Talents.

Chef Damu is well known for his record-breaking cooking abilities

When it comes to famous chefs in Tamil Nadu, Chef Damu is certainly a standout. He holds the Guinness World Record for the longest cooking marathon, which saw him prepare a whopping 617 dishes in a little more than a day. He also helped cook one of the world’s longest dosas in 2012 (it measured 14.7 metres) and once made 6000 kilos of biryani, in addition to other mammoth projects. When he’s not cooking colossally, the chef has also written 30 books and imparts culinary wisdom to catering college students.

Apart from large-scale cooking, Chef Damu’s culinary philosophy – “food is medicine” – directly applies to the spice-laden cuisine of Tamil Nadu. From red chillies, cumin, and coriander to turmeric, fenugreek, asafoetida, and mint, many spices used in the hugely fragrant cooking of South India are purported to offer medicinal benefits.

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Idli and other South Indian classics

But for the South Indian food novice, there’s more to master than just the spicing. The region as a whole is host to more than 5000 culinary sub-types, from Karaikudi and Chennai cuisine to Brahmin, Kongu, Nadan, and Mappillai cooking styles. Begin your tasting adventures, then, with a few classics: traditional dishes like idli (steamed rice dumplings), dosa varieties (crispy rice crepes) and biryani are all very popular. Chef Damu also lavishes praise on the seafood of coastal Chennai.

No trip to South India is complete without trying dosa

If you’re a vegetarian, Tamil Nadu is the place to be: cooks here have a talent for turning less glamorous greens into delicious treats. Vegetables like yams, drumsticks (here, that refers to a type of tree pod, not chicken), snake gourd, bitter gourd and plantain are frequently used. Greens are often mixed with moong dal (a lentil variety) to produce the delicious classic paruppu keerai. Combine it with rice and ghee (clarified butter) for a dish that’s fresh and indulgent at once. And speaking of rice – it’s a fixture on the South Indian table, so prepare to enjoy it at most meals.

Even meat lovers will find that vegetables and fruits inevitably accompany their curries. Says Chef Damu, “Lamb is frequently cooked with drumsticks in a coconut curry, while raw mangoes often add mild sourness to the regional fish curries.”

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Ven Pongal is a delicious local staple

To get the true taste of Tamil Nadu, begin your dining mission at a Hindu temple, suggests Chef Damu. “Almost every temple prepares authentic vegetarian dishes as an offering to its deity. Visitors are then served this food – dishes like puliyodharai (tamarind rice), curd rice, ven pongal (a rice and moong dal dish), sweet pongal, pepper vada (fritters), and sambar dosa  (dosa with lentil stew) have devotees queuing up.”

Within the pantheon of Tamil Nadu cuisine, street food isn’t just a staple – it’s an art form. If you’re on a culinary pilgrimage, the chef recommends visiting the city of Trichy for Inam Kulathur biryani, a local variety made with a 700-year-old recipe. Madurai is also famous for ayira meen kuzhambu, a local fish curry.

Chef Damu recommends visitors to Tamil Nadu sample biryani

And all that’s just the start. From the Indo-Chinese dishes in Chennai to home-style mutton biryani and chilli-laced Mallur chicken, a dish from the north of the state, Chef Damu has no shortage of recommendations for the visiting culinary adventurer keen to discover the cuisine of Tamil Nadu. And if you want to try to prepare it yourself at home, he has one simple secret to impart: “Never feel burdened by cooking, prepare in advance and cook with love.”

11 Best Fish Recipes | Easy Fish Recipes | Maachh Recipes

Fish Recipes are usually low in fat and high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 improves mental functions and helps in maintaining a healthy heart by lowering blood pressure. Researchers have discovered that eating fish regularly may reduce the risk of diseases ranging from asthma to prostate cancer. Whitefish like cod are a great source of low-fat proteins while oily fish like sardines, salmon, and mackerel are dense with omega-3 acids.

Fish Recipes

Quit tip for buying fresh fish –  Look for the ones with clean bright eyes. Fish with dull eyes may be safe to consume but not fresh. A fish should smell like clean water and not have any bad odor. The flesh should be bright and shiny. There should be no milky liquid on the flesh as that’s the first sign of becoming stale.

With a slight twist and a subtle kick, you’ll absolutely fall in love with our fancy 11 best fish recipes.

1. Masala Fried Pomfret

Crisp fried pomfret marinated in a melange of spices. A warm, sweet and tangy salad of cabbage, kiwi, mild spices and coconut makes a great side!

2. Fish Curry with Lotus Stems

A recipe from Marut Sikka’s cookhouse. The Czar of Indian flavors teaches us how to cook an authentic Kashmiri fish curry with lotus stems.

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3. Khud Style Baked Indian Basa

Rustic flavors of the basa fish wrapped in a banana leaf and baked. A traditional recipe from Raghogarh, Madhya Pradesh.

4. Fish Curry without Oil

Fish cooked with tamarind juice, coconut, onions, tomatoes, and chilies, without a drop of oil, in a clay pot. Fresh, fast and flavorsome!

5. Popcorn Crusted Fish Fingers

Fish Recipes1

The good old fish fingers with an extra crunch of popcorn. Fish fingers wrapped in a popcorn and bread crumb mixture. Bake or deep fry in hot oil.

6. Fish Cutlets

A fishy party starter! Steamed fish minced with spices, combined with potatoes, shaped into cutlets and fried to perfection.

7. Meen Curry with Ghee Bhaat

A recipe from ‘God’s own country’, Kerala. Fish is known as ‘meen’ down south. Fish fillets cooked in coconut milk with tamarind, mustard seeds, and other aromatic spices. Goes best with rice laced with desi ghee.

8. Thai Steamed Fish

For all the health fanatics a recipe with minimal sesame oil and brown sugar. Steamed in a range of assorted flavors, fish fillets are served with a sweet and sour sauce. Pure indulgence, guilt-free!

9. Chettinad Fish Fry

This one for all the spice lovers! Surmai or kingfish marinated in fiery flavors and fried till crisp. Chettinad is the cuisine of a region in Tamil Nadu known to be the spiciest and most aromatic cuisine in India.

10. Hariyali Machli With Onion Pulao

Diverse flavors meshed together in this recipe. A succulent fillet of fish cooked in a minty green masala and served with some smoky brown rice.