Exploring 7 Iconic Dishes Of Thanjavur

The royal city of Thanjavur, densely populated with temples and palaces from the time of the Maratha reign, is an interesting amalgamation of cultures that have heavily influenced its culture. Also known as Tanjore – the city in Tamil Nadu is known for its rich cultural heritage and cuisine, forming a significant part of Tamil Nadu's culinary traditions with its own distinctive flavours and dishes. Characterized by its use of traditional spices, rich gravies and a blend of flavours, the cuisine also features rice-based dishes that reflect the region's agricultural abundance.


Also known as thayir vadai, this popular dish consists of vadas, which are deep-fried lentil-based savoury doughnuts, soaked in seasoned yogurt or buttermilk. Typically made from a batter of ground urad dal and mixed with spices like ginger, green chilies and curry leaves, they’re soaked in seasoned yogurt or buttermilk that is often flavoured with salt, sugar and sometimes tempered with mustard seeds, curry leaves and dried red chilies for a deliciously tangy, savoury and often spicy snack or side dish.

Thengai Sadam

Thengai Sadam that also translates to coconut rice, is a flavourful and aromatic rice dish made by tossing rice with freshly grated coconut and a tempering of spices. Cooked rice is typically mixed with freshly grated and toasted coconut, after which a tempering or tadka of mustard seeds, urad dal, chana dal, curry leaves, dried red chilies and cashew nuts is prepared in hot oil or ghee. This tempering is then poured over the rice and coconut mixture, adding both flavour and texture to the dish – offsetting the spicy accompaniments that it is often paired with.


A traditional sweet delicacy that is popular in Tamil Nadu during festivals and special occasions, the akkaravadisal is a delicious variation of the classic sweet dish called sakkarai pongal. Made with rice, moong dal, jaggery, ghee and milk, it is  also flavoured with cardamom, cashews and raisins. The dessert dish has a rich, creamy texture with a delightful sweetness from the jaggery and a hint of fragrance from the cardamom, making it ideal to often serve as prasadam in temples or as a celebratory sweet dish during festivals and ceremonies.

Mor Kuzhambu

Image Credits: Archana's Kitchen

Mor Kuzhambu is a traditional staple accompaniment like sambar or rasam, particularly popular in Tamil Nadu and Kerala cuisines. A yogurt-based curry or stew made with a combination of buttermilk, coconut, vegetables and spices, the mixture is cooked on low heat, while being stirred constantly in order to prevent curdling. Various vegetables like ash gourd, okra or even fried lentil dumplings are be added to mor kuzhambu, adding both texture and flavour to the dish. Typically served with steamed rice, the accompaniment has a tangy and mildly spicy taste from the yogurt and spices, making it an ideal dish for the summers.

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Ashoka Halwa

Ashoka Halwa is a delectable dessert made primarily from moong dal, that is cooked with sugar, ghee and flavoured with cardamom and nuts like cashews or almonds. A recipe where moong dal is soaked, ground into a coarse paste and then cooked with ghee in a heavy-bottomed pan until it thickens to a halwa-like consistency, the dish has a smooth, slightly grainy texture and a rich, sweet taste from the ghee and sugar. Served as a popular sweet served during festivals, weddings and other special occasions, the halwa finds a pride of place in the rich culinary heritage of the state.

Vengaya Sambar

A variation of the iconic South Indian lentil preparation, made with baby shallots, the tamarind-based gravy with a blend of spices is a staple breakfast accompaniment to venn pongal and medu vada. Vengaya Sambar is also served with steamed rice and poriyal (vegetable stir fry) as a main course or as an accompaniment to dosa, idli and other South Indian dishes. The tangy, slightly sweet taste from the tamarind and onions, combined with the aromatic flavours of the spices, makes it a delicious and comforting dish that is often served in restaurants and canteens.

Kichadi Pachadi

Image Credits: Dassana's Veg Recipes

Pachadi – a traditional condiment or side dish that is popular in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, is a yogurt-based preparation made with grated or finely chopped vegetables or fruits and spices. Known for its combination of tangy, creamy and sometimes spicy flavours, the process of making pachadi involves cooking the key ingredient, until tender and then mixing it with a seasoned blend of freshly grated coconut, green chilies and mustard seeds. This mixture is added to beaten yogurt, which gives the pachadi its creamy texture and tangy taste. The refreshing side dish or accompaniment can be mildly spiced or made more fiery, depending on personal preferences and is enjoyed for its cooling effect alongside spicier curries and rice dishes.