I love the thali! A guest post by Nina Pryor

Hello everyone this is Nina Pryor, guest blogger for today! I am glad to say that during these past three weeks we have enjoyed everything that the India’s Identities course has taught us. Through the course’s three foci, religion, caste, and gender, we have all had a one-of-a-kind experience that will shape our worldview forever. When I first heard about the course, I was immediately intrigued by the stress on fully immersing ourselves into South Indian culture and society, whether that be by dressing in traditional Indian clothing, learning key Tamil phrases, or my favorite, eating the local cuisine. Food is the love of my life, and I have no shame admitting this to the entire Internet community (or just the people following this blog hehe). This passionate love affair began when I learned how to make my first perfect cheese omelet at the tender age of five and it shows no signs of ending. Since then I have expanded my cooking repertoire immensely and have found happiness in things like the Food and Wine cooking magazine and restaurant week in New York City. I have always admired Indian cuisine. There are so many different components, complex flavors and preparations within a single dish that blend perfectly together. It truly is an art that many cannot replicate. Staying in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, we have experienced many different types of local dishes that are specific to each state. Beginning in Tamil Nadu, we were introduced to our first thali meal. This meal consists of steaming white rice on a banana leaf surrounded by six different types of sides that are meant to represent the six rasas or flavors that aid digestion. Tamil food is layered with spices such as chilies, cardamom, allspice, and many other local spices. The food is hot so it usually given with some type of curd (yogurt) as a cooling component to the heat of the meal. The food in Kerala we had was very different. There is coconut in all of their dishes so the sauces and sides are milder and sweeter. There is also more cinnamon and nutmeg in the food, which adds a certain depth to each component of the dish we have had. Honestly, this is a poor attempt at contextualizing this amazing foodie experience, but I hope that this gives you a taste!

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