[Compiled by: Kandiah Thillaivinayagalingam]

--[Food Habits of Ancient Sangam Tamils-continuing]--
Image result for foods in sangam poemsHospitality was considered virtue and both the rich and the poor delighted in serving their guests,and ate what was left.In Purananuru 266, lines,11-13,The poet requests the king to help him immediately to remove his poverty.He feels his poverty is shameful that made him hide him while the host approaches as:Please grant me rapid relief from this poverty, like you are listening to a request for help in an assembly of noble men.My thoughts are muddied within my body with all the senses,my life is twisted,and I hide myself whenever I see my guests!"On festive occasions the king and the rich held free feasts and several delicacies were offered.The food that the king provided to his court poets,soldiers and subjects is often descried in detail in over 2000 years olds sangam poems.Several of these poems describe of foods of the common people and feasts that were prepared and served at the palaces, at festivals, and at weddings.Though,the earliest Tamil writings are traced to about 700 BC, but references to edibles and food habits abound in literature between 300 BC and 300 AD.
Image result for பட்டினப்பாலைPattinap-Palai mentions fish being sliced at the port of Pukar in the mouth of the Kaveri,and fishermen partaking of dishes of fried sweet prawns and boiled field tortoise.The staple food of the Tamils then as now seems to have been rice,supplemented with various vegetables and meats.Milk,butter and honey also seem to have been in common use.Many forms of rice were already known,like parched or flattened rice,puffed rice[ is made by heating rice in a sand-filled oven],and parboiled rice[rice that has been partially boiled in the husk].Rice appam ,a pancake soaked in sweetened milk was already well established and Idi-appam,cooked rice in the form of long white strings rather like fine noodles ,is also mentioned even at this early date in ancient Sangam poems Perumpanattuppadai,madurai kanchi and Silappathikaram.However,Idiyappam,as traditionally known as fresh steam-cooked,a circular pattern fine rice noodles was not existed at that time.For example,in Perumpanattuppadai,lines 377,378, says"கூவியர் பாகொடு பிடித்த,இழை சூழ் வட்டம் பால் கலந்தவை போல்",that is it says"in the shade, appear,like round appam made with threads and sugar syrup lying in milk in the dark, wide bowls of vendors who call out prices."Eminent food scientist Dr. K.T. Achaya,in his books — Indian Food, A Historical Companion, The Food Industries of British India, and A Historical Dictionary of Indian Food(all published by Oxford University Press, India)  he points out authoritatively that while Dosai and Vadai have a hoary two-thousand-year history in Tamil country, Idli is a foreign import.He notes that the word Idli,might derive from ‘iddalige’, first mentioned in a Kannada work “Vaddaradhane” of Sivakotyacharya in 920 AD as iddalige,but the indications are that this was made from an urad dhal batter only, which was neither fermented, nor steamed to fluffiness.It figures as one of the eighteen items served to a brahmachari[unmarried man] who visits the home of a lady. In the subsequent Sanskrit Manasollasa (1130 AD),It is mentioned as iddarika,but again made from urad dhal flour only.It actually describes iddarika as made of fine urad flour fashioned into small balls and then spiced with pepper powder,cumin powder and asafoetida.In Karnataka,a century later, the idli is described as being 'light, like coins of high value.'But the three elements of modern Idli making are missing in all these references: use of rice grits along with urad dal, the long fermentation of the mix, and steaming the batter to fluffiness.Achaya contends that only after 1250 AD are there references to what seem to be idli as we know them.The Chinese chronicler Xuang Zang categorically stated that in 7th century AD Indians did not know the use of the steamer. there is a suggestions that the Idli was developed in Indonesia,a part of which was then ruled by hindu kings like the Pallava,Gupta,Pala[Pala Empire] and Chola in the succeeding centuries up to the 12th century.It is called Kedli there.Achaya writes that the cooks who accompanied the  Kings during  800-1200 AD, May have returned home with the recipe,and there by brought fermentation and steaming methods to South India.Also he point out that Dosai during the sangam period was probably made only out of rice, is made out of fermented rice batter, but the fermenting agents range from toddy to yeast, never urad dal.And even more interestingly, the  “dhosaka” mentioned in Manasollasa, the Chalukyan king Someswara’s massive encyclopedia about daily life in 12th century Karnataka, was made only of dhals - no rice at all!.It is generally believed that dosa had its roots in the Temple Streets of Udupi, Karnataka.Dr. K.T. Achaya,further mentioned that both idiyappam and appam were dishes sold by kaazhiyar[காழியர்] and kuuviyar[கூவியர்] - vendors of snack foods on the seashore; it is described in post-Sangam poems such as Silappathikaram and manimekalai,for example in Manimekalai,It says"பன்மீன் விலைஞர் வெள்ளுப்புப் பகருநர் கள் நொடையாட்டியர் காழியர் கூவியர் ",where,kaazhiyar means "Dealer in the rice-preparation piṭṭu"[ or dhoby] and kuuviyar means,"those who sell Appam[rice pancakes]"[or cooks ].Tamarind rice figures extensively, as also a drink made with tamarind and nellikai (gooseberry).Leafy greens (keerai), gourds, drumsticks and the three pulses were widely used. So were rice and curd, and vadai soaked in curds The three great Tamil fruits were of course, mango, jackfruit and bananas.Also we come to know from Mathuraikkanchi[மதுரைக் காஞ்சி] that mothakam[மோதகம் ]being sold on the streets of Madurai along with Adai,which is made of lentils and rice,a type of Dosai or pancake.Lines 624-627,"நல்வரி இறாஅல் புரையும் மெல் அடை,அயிர் உருப்பு உற்ற ஆடு அமை விசயம்,கவவொடு பிடித்த வகை அமை மோதகம், தீஞ் சேற்றுக் கூவியர்", means-vendors who sell delicate adai that are like honeycombs with fine lines and mothakam that are made on the palms pressing fingers,with fillings with sugar syrup.

பகுதி/PART :15 தொடரும்/WILL FOLLOW 


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