What Did The Cholas Eat? From Seafood To Payasam, Here’s A Sneak Peek Into Their Diet!

by Mallika Khurana
What Did The Cholas Eat? From Seafood To Payasam, Here’s A Sneak Peek Into Their Diet!

One of the most notable dynasties in ancient South India, the Chola dynasty was renowned for its cultural, political, and military accomplishments. It had a significant impact on history and existed from roughly the ninth to the thirteenth centuries. Talking about the culinary traditions of the Chola dynasty, they were varied and extensive. As apparent from the grand movie Ponniyin Selvan, the kings of this dynasty led lavish lives. Besides, their indulgent diets also caught everybody’s eye and led to curiosity about food in that era among many people. If you are one of those people, read ahead for all the answers!

What Did The Cholas Eat?

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During the Chola dynasty, food was influenced by factors like geography, culture, and social structure. The Cholas prioritised the practice of agriculture because it was essential for them to produce their own food. The majority of the Chola population worked in agriculture, which served as the foundation of their economy. Rice was their main crop, along with millet, pulses, vegetables, and fruits.

The main food group in the Chola diet was rice, which was eaten in a variety of ways, including boiled rice, steamed rice, and rice-based dishes like dosas and idlis. It was frequently served with curries made with lentils and vegetables and dishes with meat or fish. The Cholas had a diverse diet that included vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. The fertile lands and the coastal area gave them access to a wide variety of ingredients.

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The Diets Were Had Many Elements

Chola dynasty
Photo Credits: Canva

Apart from sources like black pepper and turmeric, herbs like coriander and curry leaves were widely used in chola cuisine. As a coastal nation, the Cholas relied heavily on seafood in their diet. Shellfish, freshwater fish, and fish from the coast were all frequently eaten. The Cholas also enjoyed eating desserts and sweets. 

Jaggery, honey, and sugar were all used as sweeteners. In addition to fried treats and sweet rice dishes, they also produced a variety of milk-based desserts like payasam (kheer) and other sweets. The rituals of Chola society included feasting and other food-related activities. Extensive feasts were held to celebrate religious festivals, marriages, and other important occasions. These feasts showcased the rich culinary heritage of their cuisine and featured a variety of dishes.

The region’s agriculture, its cultural traditions, and the availability of varied ingredients reflected in the Chola dynasty’s food culture. 

Cover Image Courtesy: Canva