Chilies (was Re: Tobacco)

Srinivasan Pichumani srini at
Fri Sep 5 16:31:49 UTC 1997

	>>If chillies come from elsewhere, does that mean that all
	>>that hot hot Indian food is not "original"?

Black pepper, ginger, and various other substances with
zing were always available to make the gunpowder mandated 
for all Indian dishes ;-)))

As Vidya mentioned, among observant S.Indian families,
chili is not used in foods prepared on s'rAddha days.  
Similarly, other "english kAikaL" (lit. English vegetables) 
which is Tamil idiom for vegetables such as carrot, tomato, 
potato etc are not used on such days.  These preferences 
probably indicate an external origin at some point in 
time for these vegetables.

The lack of a native word in Tamil for chili is also
pointed out as an indication of the external origin, at
least wrt the Tamil region, of chili.  Chili is called 
miLakAi, from miLaku+kAi... lit. raw pepper, green pepper.  

The raw form of black pepper, paccai miLaku (lit. green 
pepper), is also consumed in the form of pickles and such.

As for coffee consumption among S.Indian Brahmins, 
specifically Tamils, the historian P.T.Srinivasa 
Iyengar, writing about the late 19th/early 20th 
centuries, says that it is ironic that what could 
not be wished away by Apastamba has now been taken 
care of by the modern stimulant...i.e. coffee.

He was referring to the increasing popularity of 
coffee as the first thing consumed in the morning...
rather than "pazhayadu" (lit. old) which is normally 
a watery mixture of buttermilk and left-over rice 
that is kept overnight covered with water.

Apastamba had made an allowance in his sUtras for 
consumption of such "stale" food... relegating it 
to local custom. 


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