Why does Tamil food suck

Thunderstorm over the Minatchimman Koyil in Madurai

Detail from the ornamentation of the northern gopuram

Hall in the Minatchi Temple

The colorful temple towers of the Meenaksi Temple

Today I am reporting from the cultural center of Tamil Nadu: The city of Madurai is closely linked to the so-called Sangam literature, the oldest South Indian literature of all. According to legend, the Sangam poet schools go back several thousand years, and even if a maximum of 2300 years should be more realistic, it is a very venerable age for India. The Sangam texts were not rediscovered until the 19th century and deal exclusively with worldly things; they are written in an ancient Tamil language, but are still quite easy to understand even for Tamils ​​living today. This very independent genre of literature is the basis for the name “classical language of Indian literature” for Tamil.

The colorful temple towers of the Meenaksi Temple

Hall in the Minatchi Temple

Temple elephant

You wouldn't have expected otherwise: Of course, there is also a famous temple here, namely the Minatchiamman Koyil (often also Meenakshi written). It stands in the middle of a lively market district, and its four towers around the tall entrance towers define the Madurai skyline. They were only completely renovated last year and painted so brightly that they actually look more American than Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck together; but this kitschy polychrome wonder really corresponds to the historical original.

Hall in the Minatchi Temple

Temple elephant

Nandi statue

A few other smaller gopurams adorn the various side rooms, and their blaze of color is overwhelming once you have found a beautiful vantage point. Some souvenir shops near the temple have perfectly located roof terraces and send their tugs with them "Best view, sir!" and similar sayings on the street. For the few minutes on the viewing platform, however, you pay dearly, or waste at least half an hour visiting sandalwood statues from Mysore, gold rings from Rajasthan, miniature paintings from Kashmir, tribal art from Orissa, and all the other handicrafts in this huge country. In the end, you have an almost crying salesman who explains that his boss would throw him out if he didn't sell something quickly today - the shame limit with these guys cannot be made out even with the telescope.

Nandi statue

Uniquely, the Minatchi Temple has two sancta, one for Shiva and one for his wife Parvati, both of which are crowned by a gilded tower (viman). Every evening the gentleman visits the lady, that is, the cult image of Shiva is transported in a procession to the Parvati sanctum so that the two can fulfill their marital duties. Tourists are not allowed into the Sanctum, but the temple is big enough that there is no boredom; On its premises you will not only find a lotus pond, many small altars, several halls and inner courtyards, but also a large hall with the temple elephant, which gives blessings with its mighty trunk. Bizarrely, he soaks up the payment with his trunk and then blows it into his mahout's donation box.

The temple offers many wonderful sights

What do you see: elephant or cow?

The atmosphere in the temple is very peaceful. Allegedly around 10,000 people visit him every day, who then sit comfortably around the lotus pond, buy religious souvenirs from the vendors located in the temple, stick incense sticks at Parvati's feet or wrap a wreath of fragrant jasmine flowers around the neck of a Ganesha statue . Some just seem to meet to chat.

What do you see: elephant or cow?

Unfortunately you are not even allowed to enter this temple with socks, you really have to go barefoot - quite a horror for me, because not least because of the many pigeons it is not really very clean. I afforded myself the luxury of a guide, who finally discreetly advised me to secretly put on my socks behind the controlled entrance area.

The weather is now slowly turning towards the monsoon, once there was even a nocturnal thunderstorm. From my hotel room with a view of the temple I could see the temple that was thundered by lightning - otherwise I am not very good at the hotel, because my bed turned out to be a kind of traffic obstacle for the ant road that runs across it. The beasts are constantly rebuilding their traffic routes, and every morning I am crawled over by a few hundred of them. Well, somehow I like them more than Vizag's cockroaches, and I don't have any food with me anyway.

A vegetarian one meals

Keyword “edible”: Slowly it is time to say goodbye to Tamil cuisine. I have already described some of the delicacies that got lost on my banana leaf; today I'll make enough of the buttermilk curries. Buttermilk tastes more sour than yoghurt and gives the curries a very recognizable note, as their acidity differs considerably from that of curries with tamarind spices. It's very easy to do: After briefly braising the spices, vegetables, etc. in the hot pan, pour buttermilk on top. There is also thick buttermilk flavored lentil puree, and that is a pleasant change from the monotony of Dal dishes.

City cow

Incidentally, this buttermilk is not that thick, lumpy thing that you used to get in tetra packs in the supermarket, but a thin, semi-transparent to opalescent product that is more reminiscent of pure whey. In its pure form, buttermilk is not only available as a soft drink, it is also often used as a drink meals is enough, although it is not clear to me whether to drink it or to pour it over the rice. I usually choose the former, and it tastes very good, especially if there is still a curry leaf or a little coriander green hidden in it.

Coffee seller

This is where the milk for the coffee comes from

After dinner, in Madurai, as in all of South India, it is best to have a coffee. Coffee is prepared using the same system everywhere: coffee powder, milk and sugar are boiled together, then filtered off and served. In an entrance alcove to the Minatchi Amman Temple has a Coffee wallah his stand, which makes the sale of coffee quite a spectacle: he pours the coffee into a glass from a great height, so that it arrives at the customer with a little foam and, above all, cooled down to drinking temperature.

After so many places in the flat, I'm drawn to the Nilgiri Mountains for next week.

P.S .: With the keyword "buttermilk" I should actually have also written about the buttermilk chili; this oversight is made up in Tiruchirappalli.



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