Food, glorious food

Posted by

In 2007, the concept of “Foodpairing” was launched by the Chef  Heston Blumenthal.

It is a scientific process for identifying which foods go well together.  The method is based on the principle that foods combine well with one another when they share key flavor components.

Flavor impression of a food is determined mainly by the chemical senses of taste and smell. While the taste of food is limited to sweet, sour, bitter, salty and savory – the basic tastes – the smells of a food are potentially limitless. A food’s flavor, therefore, can be easily altered by changing its smell while keeping its taste similar.

Foodpairing seems to be a relatively new method and is quite often confused with “wine and food pairing”, which is the practice of matching wine with food. Such a practice is often done by experience and has little scientific background.

The essence of foodpairing is the practice of combining different foods that share the same major flavor components. Comparing the flavors of individual ingredients can result in new and unexpected combinations, such as strawberries paired with peas.

I am not a “food connoisseur”, but a simple food fan of South Indian vegetarian food. Here I present some time-old “great foodpairs” of South India.

May be they can be sent to Chef Heston for evaluation.


1.     Milagu Kuzhambu (Black Peppercorns and Tamarind Gravy, Paruppu thogayal (Lentils Paste) with  sutta appalam.

If you are busy person and returning home after a hectic travel schedule, ask your mother or spouse to prepare this great but simple food.  As you taste this heavenly combination, your weariness, queasy feeling in stomach will all vanish and you will be back in action.


2.  Thair sadam (curd rice)  with vadu managai

Thair sadam is the ultimate comfort food.  There are no 5 star restaurants which do not serve this Indian delicacy.   Vadu Mangai or Mavadu is a popular pickle of Tamil Nadu. Baby (tiny and tender) raw mango is known as Mavadu  in Tamil.  Mavadu is soaked in specially made red chilli sauce with very less oil. The preparation is very simple with few ingredients.


3.  Ven pongal with Gotsu

Consuming Hot  Ven pongal  on a cold December morning  is the ultimate joy for people like me.  If Kathirikai (eggplant)  gotsu accompanies VP, the joy is double.



4.  Adai with Jaggery 

 Adai is made of lentils and rice. It is filling and healthier than dosa.  For some strange reason it goes well with jaggery.





5.  Kancheepuram Idly- Milagai podi

Kancheepuram, also called temple city of Tamil nadu is famous for its temples, silk sarees and  Kancheepuram idlis.

This idli is different from the normal ones with added spices and flavours. This steam cooked  delicacy is served as parasadam at the  Varadharaja Perumal temple at Kancheepuram.

K idly goes very well with dry Milagai podi

Milagai Podi  is a coarse mixture of ground dry spices that typically contains dried chillies, lentils, and sesame seeds.

Let me end with an Ode to the great food pairs of South India.

“Sappadu,  Nalla Sappadu!

Hot pepper kuzambu and paruppu thogayal !

While we’re in the mood – Adai and Jaggery!

Curd rice with vadu mangai! What next is the question?

Simple gentlemen, have it boys – no  indigestion!

Food, glorious food!

What wouldn’t we give for

That extra bit more –

That’s all that we live for

Why should we be fated to

Do nothing but brood

On food, Magical food,

Wonderful food,

Fabulous food

Marvelous food,

Beshana Sappadu”

(With due apology to Lionel Bart)

  1. March 1, 2012


    Thanks Partha for your comments.

  2. March 1, 2012


    You’re absolutely right about food pairings. Of course, it varies from family to family. My wife is known in our  family for the following combinations

    - Milagu kuzhambu and Aloo podimaas

    - Paruppu thogaiyal, mendhiya kuzhambu and square aloo (aloo cut into small squares and roasted)

    - Mor kuzhambu and podi potta kathirikkai

    - Vengaya sambhar and aloo roast (a common combination)

    - methi paratha and onion chutney

    There are many more.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.