[Compiled by: Kandiah Thillaivinayagalingam]
[Food Habits of Ancient Sangam Tamils-continuing]
Kuzhambu (குழம்பு (curry)), is a dish common in South Indian and Sri Lankan Tamil cuisines,and is a gravy based on a broth made with tamarind,urad (bean) dal and toor dal,and can include vegetables.The dish is very popular as a side for rice among Tamils.The number of varieties of kuzhambu are countless,one of which is a tamarind based gravy,puzhi kuzhambu,which people ate even 2200 years ago!It is a thick gravy with tamarind pulp.It has a tangy flavour combined with the special
spices.We found this sweet poem,Kurunthokai 167[2nd century B.C],where the situation is like this,Hero & Heroine have fallen in love and without parents consent  they have eloped and married.After few days the girl's parents send the foster mother to check out if the girl is doing well & happy.The foster mother goes to her place and observes and reports back to their parents.So this situation usually results in poem of how the young girl has taken up responsibility of running the family and how she does really well even though she is young and used to luxurious conditions in her parents home.Here is the poem where the foster mother recounts her observations to Heroine’s mother.

"She mashes thick curds
with her delicate fingers
that are like glorylily petals,
and wipes them on her clothes
without washing them.

Smoke from her cooking spreads
and touches her eyes, lined with
kohl and looking like blue

She cooked it all herself, the sweet tamarind curry[puzhi kuzhambu] He ate it, saying
it was tasty, and she’s very happy, the girl with a bright forehead."

Sangam poem,Sirupanatruppadai, which were written by the poet Nathattanaar in praise of a minor Velir chieftain named Nalliyakkotan,a Naka king of Naka Nadu (ancient Malabar North Ceylon)-mentioned that there were cook book in tamil during sangam period,may be written based on sanskrit[saṃskṛtam] book,wrote by Bhima of mahabharata.It is also understand from mahabharata that he is the first to have cooked a dish much loved in South India, Aviyal, which is a thick stew of vegetables, curd and coconut,While he served at the court of King Virata as disguise himself as a cook named Vallabha.

"He will serve you many different foods
that have been created from cookbooks
written by Bheeman with a chest like
that of a snow-covered mountain,
older brother of Arjunan who wears a
breast cloth with flower designs,
famed for his archery skills, the one
who received a quiver with arrows
from the fire god after burning a forest."
[Sirupanatruppadai: 238-241] 

It is surprised to understand that during the sangam period or even before that every Tamilian houses had separate kitchen called attil[அட்டில்] and further We come to know from sangam literature that ancient tamilian consumed food or drink in twelve different ways.They are Arunthuthal[அருந்துதல்,consuming very very little like medicine],Unnal[உண்ணல்,eating], Urinchal [உறிஞ்சல்,suction], குடித்தல்  [குடித்தல்,Drinking ],Thinral[தின்றல்,eating],tuyttal[துய்த்தல்,Eating anything with satisfaction or pleasure],Nakkal[நக்கல்,things eaten by licking], நுங்கள் [நுங்கல், devouring],parukal[பருகல்,drinking, liquid food], mantal [ மாந்தல்,eating drinking],மெல்லல் [மெல்லல்,Mastication or chewing -food is crushed and ground by teeth ],and vilunkal[விழுங்கல்,deglutition].



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