Puthandu: 14 Dishes To Celebrate Tamil New Year With These
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The new year is a time of celebration and renewal around the world, and Tamil Nadu is no exception. Puthandu, also known as Tamil New Year, is a significant festival in the Tamil calendar that is celebrated with great enthusiasm and fervor every year. The occasion is observed on the first day of the Tamil month of Chithirai, which usually falls on April 14th. People clean their households (out with the old, and in with the new!), wear new clothes, visit their favorite temple, and spend time with family. Such an occasion calls for food made with special care, and Tamilians prefer to bring in the new year with traditional dishes that are symbolic of their culture and heritage.   

Here are some of the special foods and dishes that celebrate Puthandu in Tamil Nadu:   


Sambar in Tamil Nadu is made with lentils, tamarind, and a variety of fresh vegetables like eggplant, okra, and carrots. The dish is flavored with sambar powder, which gives it its distinctive taste. Sambar is, of course, served with steamed rice and makes for a wholesome meal. Stereotypes be damned, Sambar is a must-have during the Puthandu celebrations and is loved by people of all ages.

Mango Pachadi  

Mango pachadi is a tangy and sweet dish that is an essential part of the Tamil New Year's feast. Made with raw mangoes, jaggery, neem flowers, and a blend of spices, it is an irresistible dish that represents the various facets of life: the sourness of the raw mangoes representing the sour moments in life, the sweetness of the jaggery symbolizing the happy moments, and the bitterness of the neem flowers representing the challenges we face.   


Payasam is a traditional dessert made with rice, milk, sugar, and cardamom. It is a must-have dish during Tamil New Year, and it signifies the beginning of a new year filled with sweetness and prosperity. The dish is flavored with cardamom powder and garnished with nuts and raisins. Payasam is considered a must-have dish for any festive occasion and is loved by people of all ages. It is a sweet and creamy dessert that is perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth. 


Vadai, a savory snack made from lentils, is a crowd favorite that is made from urad dal, chana dal, and spices. The mixture is then shaped into small discs and deep-fried until golden brown. Crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, vadai is usually served with coconut chutney or sambar.   

Paruppu Thogayal  

Paruppu thogayal is a traditional Tamil Nadu-style chutney made with lentils, coconut, and a blend of spices. It is the perfect accompaniment for steamed rice and is packed with flavors that will leave your taste buds wanting more.   


Thalagam is a unique dish that is a spicy curry that is made from a variety of vegetables, such as pumpkin, brinjal, and bitter gourd. The dish is flavored with a unique blend of spices such as coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds. Thalagam is usually served with steamed rice and is a hearty and wholesome dish that is perfect for celebrating the joyous occasion of Puthandu.

Pori Urundai  

Pori urundai, or puffed rice balls, is a sweet snack made from jaggery and puffed rice that symbolizes the togetherness and unity of a family.   


Puliyodharai, or tamarind rice, is a tangy and spicy rice dish that is made with tamarind paste, rice, and a blend of spices, and represents the various flavors of life that we encounter.  

Chakkara Pongal  

Chakkara pongal is a popular sweet dish that is made from boiled rice, milk, and jaggery. The dish is cooked in a clay pot and is usually garnished with cashews, raisins, and cardamom powder. Pongal is considered a significant dish as it signifies stability, prosperity, and growth in the fields. The dish is also offered to the Sun God during Puthandu, as it is believed to have the power to purify the mind and soul.   

Beans Paruppu Usili  

Beans paruppu usili is a classic Tamil Nadu dish that is prepared with beans and lentils. The beans are finely chopped and sautéed with spices, then mixed with a ground lentil paste, creating a unique texture and taste.   

Thakkali Rasam  

Thakkali rasam is a spicy and tangy soup made with tomatoes, tamarind, and a blend of spices. It is served with steamed rice and is a perfect dish for those who love a little kick in their food.   

Vathha Kozhambu  

Vathha Kozhambu is a tangy and spicy curry made with vegetables, tamarind, and a blend of spices. It is a staple dish in Tamil Nadu cuisine and is best served with steamed rice.   


Appalam is the Tamil word for a papad, the crisp, thin, disc-shaped snack made with lentil flour that is a common side dish. It is served during the Tamil New Year feast, and fresh appalam is especially loved by children.   


Oorugai, or pickle, is a spicy, tangy condiment that is given space on one corner of the festival spread. The bright red oorugai served during puthandu is usually made with a variety of vegetables and spices that add a burst of flavor to any meal.    

Puthandu is a significant occasion in Tamil Nadu, and people celebrate it with great enthusiasm and zeal. The people of Tamil Nadu have their own unique ways of celebrating this festival, and food plays a crucial role in it. The dishes mentioned above are a few examples of the special foods and dishes that are integral to the Puthandu celebrations. They are not only delicious but also have symbolic significance and are passed down from generation to generation, making them part of Tamil Nadu's rich cultural heritage.