The quintessential South Indian meal, or Elai Sappadu (meal on the banana leaf) is a delight, a fascinating journey of tastes. But for a long time now, there has been an unwelcome guest in this medley.
Yes, it is the roti/chapati with some sort of a veg korma, or worse paneer butter masala. Now there is nothing wrong with having roti/pooris, but my humble, firm, and suddenly steadfast opinion is that it takes away the authentic taste of the South Indian meal. In fact, even the veg biryani that you can see in the picture is unsolicited.
And for someone with a smaller stomach, that can only take so much rice, it robs me of precious real estate. Recently, I visited Krishna Kafe in Koramangala to have the full monty afternoon lunch. I refused the ‘chapathi’ upfront.
When I finished my meal, I had the feeling of having created a change, though the only person who cared to listen was my wife. Maybe my rant here will be read by a few 100s or more likely tens and inspire them to go full South Indian too. I am hopeful. Fingers crossed.
What do you think?
For those uninitiated, the proper meal course is listed below. Steamed rice is the base of the meal and is mixed with the below gravies.
- Paruppu (dal) + ghee
Generally there are 3-4 vegetables that can be served as a poriyal (sautéed), varuval (fried), kootu (steamed with paruppu) and of course the universal favourite, appalam. Sweets are served upfront or as dessert, or both. I personally love the kesari or paruppu payasam, but there are wonderful variants these days, which I do not feel are unwelcome. Below is a helpful Wiki link, and an excellent video on the banana leaf by PutChutney (who used to be a good YouTube channel, but are plain boring now)
South India 101 – The Banana Leaf by Put Chutney