Villagers in K V Kuppam seem to have a rather monotonous diet when compared with a typical Western diet. Breakfast is usually dumplings (iddli) or pancakes (dosa) made from rice flour and eaten with sambhar or chutney but these delicious dishes may also be eaten as snacks at other times. For lunch and supper most families will eat rice with lentils (dal) to provide protein and vegetables which give vitamins. Meat (chicken or goats’ meat known as mutton) is eaten less often, not for ideological but economic reasons. Beef is generally not eaten by Hindus but is available and until the problems with bird flu was much cheaper than other meat.
Rice is the staple food for 65% of the total population in India. Several grades are available including government low grade rice that costs only Rs2 per kilo and Basmati rice costing Rs75 per kilo.
Vegetables are sold in the Sanday Market each Monday. They are made into curries or chutneys or added to Dal to make Kurtoo and served with rice. Lower income families cannot always afford to have vegetables daily and will eat mostly rice with sambhar.
Most families will sit on the floor of their home to prepare and eat their food. Cutlery is not generally used and it is still the custom to eat food using the right hand only. Banana leaf plates and plates made from the stitched leaves of the Siali and Sal trees are used on special occasions but most families use metal plates. Stainless steel containers are preferred to aluminium but are more expensive.
A full “South Indian Meal” consists of a large plate of rice, of which successive portions are eaten with:
- SAMBHAR (lentil sauce) and one or two different vegetable curries;
- RASAM (pepper water) which acts as a ‘digestive’ (and is good for constipation!);
- THAIR (natural yoghurt) and salt. Vegetables may occasionally be added to the yoghurt to make a salad
Sweet dishes such as ‘Pongal’ or ‘payasam’ and special savouries like ‘thair wadai’ (pronounced vad-eye) are served only on special occasions.