Food – Ancients Tamilians and Vegetarian food

Author: தோழி / Labels:

Than focusing on blind question of where they lived, we can put it as whole Tamil community had spread and lived in five types of lands. It might be true that initially, they survived on meat and lived life as hunters however, when they used to identify river and valley based civilization they become civilized and then they had included fruits and rhizome in their foods which are inferred from ancient notes.

From the book named Tholkaappiyam, we got the following information that Tamil community had their shelter and food in five types of land surfaces. The food items named moongil arisi (bamboo rice), thinai (a cereal), and honey plays major role in kurinji landscape which are predominantly mountain based areas. Saamai and varagu are main food items of mullai landscape which is predominantly forest based. Regarding cultivable land based marutham landscape; brown rice and white rice are predominant food. In water based neithal landscape, water based foods like fish is dominant.

Apart from this, usage of milk, curd, buttermilk, butter, ghee, cheese, paneer from their owned cattle’s are also in the referrences.

At very early stage, steaming, boiling, and frying were their cooking methods. In later period, they used ghee to fry their food items. We also have a poem with an evidence that frying of meat using ghee along with pepper.

Rice is the predominant food among Tamilians, where they used raw rice as well as, boiled rice (puzhungkal rice) that we are using nowadays. However, it is necessary to quote that, almost all the ancient rice varieties are extinguished. In ancient days, they used varieties to cook and had rice along with kuzhambu, koottu and poriyal.

It is a unique pride that Tamilans used leaves as plates which is still in practice. They used lotus leaf, banana leaf, manthaarai leaf for this purpose and they used to have food in group which is inferred from quotes, “சிறுஞ்சோற்று நிலை (Sirunjoatru nilai)”,  “பெருஞ்சோற்று நிலை (Perunjoatru nilai)”.

They also used to have liquor like drinks named kal (liquid oozing out from coconut/ palm tree) in their food practice. Only after the evolution of bhakthi movement in Tamilnadu, the food practices of other people communities (from various landscapes) coalesced with the former ones. 

Till now, we discussed the ancient food habits of Tamilians. In forthcoming posts, we will see about, how they used food as medicines and vice-versa. 

Original –
Translated by Lalithambika Rajasekaran

Food - Cooking

Author: தோழி / Labels:

Knowing the food habitat is highly essential for complete historical erudition of each human community. Since, the food habit is the base for their inner character such as thoughts, actions, intellect which in turn influencing the outer personality. I will share the further information through this series.

In olden days, Tamilians used to have raw food out of their hunting which can be inferred from following line of Puranaanooru poem, “பச்சூன் தின்று பைந்நிணம் பெருத்த (pachoon thinru painninam peruththa”. Those peoples, in later period were identified as hunters’ community. Later on the period of using the skin/leather of those hunted animals, there comes the need to preserve and save those skins.

That was the place, where the term cooking (samaiyal) araises. Samaiyal is the word refers to pakkuvapaduthal (processing) or enhancing from one to another form.

They used to dry the animal skin under sunlight to remove excess wetness, which had to be pointed as the first step in cooking. On the continuation, there comes the habit of eating the dried (transformed) meat of animals, which is the well observed practice in today’s society too.

After acquiring the knowledge of fire, they used to have the meats which are heated in fire. This practice can be inferred from the following line of Puranaanooru poem,“கொள்ளி வைத்த கொழு நிணநாற்றம் மறுகுடன் கமழும் (kolli vaiththa kozhu ninanaatram marukudan kamazhum)”.This refers to heating in fire. The place where this heating took place is then termed as adukalai (kitchen). We also use the term ‘aduthal’ to refer the process of cooking.

After started living in open graze land, humans used to prepare thier food. It is the age, where the potteries and metal vessels came into usage. People belong to this period first tried and have the meat baked with water.

From the information gathered from ancient poems, ancient Tamilians used 4 types of stove for baking or cooking food which are listed as follows: முரியடுப்பு (muriyaduppu), ஆடுநனிமறந்த கோடுயர் அடுப்பு (aadu nanimarantha koaduyar aduppu), முடித்தலை அடுப்பு (mudiththalai aduppu),  ஆண்டலை அணங்கடுப்பு (aandalai anangaduppu).

Similary, they named the baking vessels which were inferred from the poems. They are “இருங்கட் குழிசி (irungat kuzhisi)”, “சோறடு குழிசி (soaradu kuzhisi)”, “மேலும் புகர்வாய் குழிசி (maelum pukarvaai kuzhisi)”, “மான்தடி புழுக்கிய புலவுநாறு குழிசி (maanthadi puzhukkiya pulavunaaru kuzhisi)”, “வெண்கோடு தோன்றாக் குழிசி (venkoadu thoanraak kuzhisi)”, “முரவு வாய் ஆடுறு குழிசி (muravu vaai aaduru kuzhisi)” and “அட்டகுழிசி அழற்பயந்தாங்கு attakuzhisi azharpayanthaangku)”.

Very interesting information!!! Isn’t it??

After the conscious of land acquiring and maintenance, people used to manage cattle and feed them by grazing on that land. We can infer from the Puranaanooru poem about the usage of milk, curd and butter, ghee from the cattle’s are used in food of people. That must be time the taste entered in the food.

From the above inference so far acquired, one may easily come to conclusion, Tamilians were basically non-vegetarian. However, in later period, vegetarian food items plays inseparable role in their food habitat.

If they used vegetarian foods, what are they???

Further information in upcoming post.

Stay tuned!!!

Original –
Translated by Lalithambika Rajasekaran

Tamilians and their food – An overview!

Author: தோழி / Labels:

Apart from history, culture and traditional values, food habit plays an important key role in determining the life style of each specific community. Because humans made up their food habits depends on the climate and their surrounding natural habitats.

Like this, each community in the World has its own cultural identification and grown with their own natural habitat globally over time and still growing. I hope we are all well aware of these facts.

In the Stone Age, tribal communities who survived through time had lived with available food, cloth and shelter. However, they evolved and preserved their food only after their culture started on river beds and they used to occupy their own tribal land. Only after the introduction of fire, they learn to cook and preserve their foods.

The ultimate objective of this post is to clarify and make the reader aware of history of Tamilians food culture which is known to have 6000 year old history. All these information shared here in this regard are collected from the old Tamil poems. It is pity that, out of the 6000 year history, we have information only for the last 1500 years.

Even though, we got the poem of 1500 years, the olden historical happenings before 1500 years was known from sculptures, saasanam and from the folk stories and rest to the guess. However, the information of food habit is very mere and on contrary they are absolutely interesting.

From the poems of Puranaanooru and Perumpaanatrupadai, we came to know the food habit of olden Tamils, as they used to hunt animals and had eaten raw and dried it for after use and then they used to cook and preserve on time run. It becomes lengthy and tedious job to explain all intrinsic details, so that I just left the poem part here.

On other side of hunting practices for food, old Tamil community used to keep cattle’s on open grazing land for food. This we can say as the perfect stage, where they became aware of developing own style of manufacturing and preserving food grains. We also can say this the period, the old Tamils started cooking their food.

What is called cooking? How Tamils used to cook their food?

Further information in upcoming post!!!

Original –
Translated by Lalithambika Rajasekaran