Known for its spicy, hot fare, Chettinad cuisine hails from the deep southern region of Tamil Nadu. Chettinad cuisine is far cry from the bland cuisine of traditional Tamilian Brahmins-it is one of the spiciest, oiliest and most aromatic in India.
Although the Chettiars are well known for their delicious vegetarian preparations, their repertoire of food items is famous and includes all manner of fish and fowl and meats, as well as delicate noodle-like dishes and carefully preserved sun-dried legumes and berries that the Chettiar ladies make into curries. Oil and spices are liberally used in cooking and most dishes have generous amounts of Peppercorn, Cinnamon, Bay leaves, Cardamom, Nutmeg, green and red chilies.
The main attraction of Chettinad cuisine is its variety, nutritional balance and the sudden surprises it springs on you. Their garlic pickles are out of this world. A lot of the food is very aromatic and heavily spiced, especially with pepper.
Some of the popular dishes in Chettinad menu are 'Varuval' - a dry dish fried with onions and spices (chicken, fish or vegetables sautéed), Pepper chicken, Poriyal - a curry, and 'Kuzambu', which has the ingredients stewed in a gravy of coconut milk and spices. Special mention must be made of their 'Kola Kolumbus' (Kofta gravies) and the sweet and savoury 'Paniyarams' (Dumplings).