Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu is the home for many delicacies. As one of the oldest cities of South India, this place has a mix of people from various cultures. Each one has brought in their own traditional cuisine here. Hence, you can find any cuisine you want and like in Chennai. Right from traditional Tamil Nadu dishes like Idly, Dosa to north Indian Khana like Naan, Butter Chicken to Italian Pizzas and Burmese Atho, you can savor on everything in this breezy city. When I say everything, I mean it!
If you are staying here for a short time and are confused about what you have to eat here, then this is for you! There are some foods that you should not miss when you are in Chennai, the next time. Let me prepare you for some mouth-watering situations now as we list out 7 amazing foods that you must!
Table of Contents
Idly is an authentic South Indian breakfast. If you are in Chennai and don’t have Idly, then you have to fly back again just to taste it! Idly is made out of rice batter. This is one of the healthiest breakfast options in the world as it is a steamed dish and is easily digestible. Idly is usually served with Sambar(a side dish with lentils and vegetables) and different types of Chutneys. Usually, coconut chutney, tomato chutney or a green chutney is provided along with the plate of Idly. Idly soaked in Sambar is called the Sambar Idly. You can also ask for Idly as such and the sambar along with the chutneys will be kept in separate cups.
There is no particular place where Idly tastes best! Everywhere you will find this dish and it is so good wherever you eat.
Masala Vada is made out of Chana Dhal. It is a crispy, deep-fried snack that is too yummy. It is usually had along with breakfast or lunch. Masala Vada is also a great snack for the evenings. Sip some hot tea and bite a few pieces of the vada. This is a deadly combination that I bet you will get addicted to. It can either be eaten plain or you can also dip it in some coconut or kara chutney (spicy chutney). It takes to you a different level of taste when you taste it with chutneys.
Apart from masala vada, you can also try out Medu Vada, sambar vada and thayir vada. Drop out your idea of going to restaurants to have vada. There are a lot of street shops and tea stalls that make hot Vadas. Grab one from your nearest vada vendor, right away!
One of the most interesting, must- try food is Chicken 65. For this dish, chicken is marinated with a blend of spicy masalas and deep fried in oil. Add a few lime drops on it for some extra flavor.
Did you know that it got its roots from Chennai? Yes, the famous Buhari hotel prepared a new dish and named it Chicken 65. It was found in the 1960s. No one really knew this dish would be so successful! Many of them question how it got its name. Ok, to be precise, 65 chilies were used to make this mouth-watering chicken dish.
Chicken 65 is best in Buhari. However, we can’t let down other places that make chicken 65. Try out this dish in an authentic non-veg hotel of Chennai!
Kothu Parotta is another tastebud kindling dish in Chennai. A layered roti made of maida is torn into pieces and tasty gravies or masalas are added to it and fried. Kothu Parotta is so filling that you will not feel hungry for a long time. There are varieties of parotas available. The famous ones are egg parotta, chicken parotta, vech parota, coin parotta and the like.
Kothu Parotta is amazing in Anjappar, Buhari and many other traditional non-veg restaurants in Chennai. You must try it out from street food carts also to know the amazing local taste of the dish.
Temple Pulisadam/ Puliyodarai
Pulisadam is basically the rice made of Tamarind. It is one of the famous rice varieties you will find all over South India. The Hindu temples make Pulisadam in a very different way and their taste is unbeatable. They serve it as prasadam or offering to God. After this, they serve it to the devotees who visit the temple. If you want to get the authentic taste of pulisadam, you either have it home cooked or visit the temples of Chennai.
You can visit the famous Kapaleeshwar Temple, Parthasarathy Temple, Marundeeshwarar Temple, and Anantha Padmanabaswamy Temple. Experience the divine aura of these temples that are dated back 3000 years ago. Enjoy the prasadam they serve and the whole experience will be mind-calming.
If you are in Chennai and do not taste filter coffee, then the whole purpose of visiting the place is not fulfilled. Yes, Chennai (old name – Madras) is the birthplace of the traditional filter coffee that you can find anywhere around the world. Be it after a hectic travel schedule or just to relax reading a book, choose to order a filter coffee. I bet nothing can soothe you this easily.
The outlets of Madras Filter Coffee is available in every area of the city. Find out the original ones as there are a lot of shops having the same name. You can also try filter coffee in Saravana Bhavan, Adayar Ananda Bhavan, and other chain restaurants.
Plantain leaf meals
All over South India, food is served in a plantain leaf. The lunch menu is usually elaborate and served in a big leaf. It is called Thala Vazha Ilai Sapaadu. This means food served in a big banana leaf. Usually, on special occasions, festivals and even at weddings, lunch is served in banana leaf. There are multiple benefits attached to this custom. The anti absorbing nature of the leaf makes it a natural plate. The taste of the dishes is believed to be unique and tastier when it is served this way. The best part is you just use it and throw it off. It is biodegradable.
Coming to what is served in the meal- Salt is kept first as you can add some if you find the dishes have less salt. Pickle is kept. Rice and dhal are served separately. Different types of cooked vegetables are served. Sambar (lentils dish), rasam (Tamarind and pepper flavored spicy dish), kootu(lentils and coconut dish) and puli kolambu (Tamarind curry) is the common curries served along with rice. Last but not least, the curd is served.
Each menu serves two to three deserts according to their wish in the meal. The common sweet that is served is pal payasam. This is sweetened milk sweet that tastes yummy after a heavy South- Indian meal. Beeda is served at the end. This aids in digestion.
How did you find this virtual Chennai food tour? I am sure you have developed some serious cravings by now. The next time you plan a trip to India, Chennai must be on your checklist. Come and visit Marina beach, Asia’s longest beach and many more beaches along the coastline. Go on a culture tour to visit age-old temples that speak proudly about their history. Feel the aura of historical monuments that have been preserved right from when it was Madarasapatinam. Feast upon all the delicious flavors that the city can offer. What more are you waiting for now? Book your tickets and pack your bags. There are tons of things to do when in India.
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