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Ever heard about Village of Cooks?

Village of Cooks

Ever heard about Village of Cooks?

At the Kalayur village in Ramanathapuram district of Tamil Nadu, this is a reality that amazes almost every outsider because every man is a cooking expert here.

A village of male cooks

As one enters the territory of this unique Tamilian village, the attracting odour of spices wafting through the air beckons one for a treat. Kalayur is well-known in South India as foodie’s paradise where taste of food is almost like nectar.

The speciality of Kalayur village is that an excellent cook is available in each and every house of this village. In fact, Kalayur is a house of about 200 best male cooks in India.

So how did it start?

About 500 centuries ago, the wealthy Reddiar caste of tradesmen living in the region, affixed the job of cooking to the Vaniyars (a lower caste), who were good with culinary arts. They were also a storehouse of secret food recipes and did a better job of cooking than the traditional Brahmin cooks. At that time, farming was not a profitable job and the men were unskilled for any other trade, so they started developing an interest in cooking and that is how the tradition started.

Now a days, Kalayur travels for six months throughout South India as male cooks are heavy in demand as they cook mouth-watering fare for one and all. On other days, they prepare wedding or birthday feasts. Guess, if they are provided with all the ingredients, the cooks can prepare the feast for a thousand people in merely 3 hours!

Village of cooks 3

How to become a cook in Kalayur


It is not an easy thing to become a cook in Kalayur, where the standards are already quite high. Although, there are no specific entry-level criteria, a fresher has to start his training as early as possible. He is trained to build a strong foundation by learning the basics first—chopping vegetables, gathering the freshest ingredients from the fields and more. As one makes a steady progress, he learns to prepare more and more dishes.

This continues on for at least 10 years, after which, the cook is ready to lead his own team of helpmates. Another thing to be noted about these cooks is that they do not cook for their own family and this part of the task is left for the women of the house like any traditional Indian family.

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