Chennai sings pride in having the world’s second largest beach and its food is no less of a hero. Chennai, being the heart of Tamil Nadu is a proud owner of several dishes that one will definitely go bonkers for.
Before you burst out from the excitement from these mouthwatering flavor bombs, without further ado, here are the top 10 crowd favorite foods of Chennai which one should never miss.
1. Idly – Fluffy Rice PillowsSoft fluffy and round steamed savory cake that is made by steaming a batter which consists of fermented black lentils and rice. It is often enjoyed with either sambar or idly podi (a spicy combination of certain masalas mixed with oil, to form a semi solid paste) and a variety of chutneys that include the spicy onion chutney, mint chutney and the infamous coconut chutney.
This omnipresent regional dish of Tamil Nadu sings pride and it is available in a different variations: from Rava Idly to Oats Idly. However, the Ghee Idly (also known as 14 idly or Mini idly) is the crowd favorite. Ghee idly is traditionally miniature sized idlys floating in a bowl full of sambar and a generous dash of Ghee poured over the top. It is called 14 idly since the plate which is used to hold the batter while steaming, provides the opportunity to make 14 mini idly at one time.
Be sure to try these fluffy clouds of joy at Murugan Idly shop, Anna Nagar.
2. Vada – Fried Rice DoughnutsVada often indulged as an evening snack with sambar and coconut chutney. It is also a perfect complement with Idly, Dosa or Pongal for breakfast.
There is a lot of varieties of vadas that include spinach vada, medu vada and masal vada. South Indians truly love their vadas and it’s clearly evident since there is no festival without vadas. Medhu vada is the most popular among all. Be sure to try out these fried Indian doughnuts with a helping of sambar or chutney at ‘Only Vada’, KK Nagar.
3. Dosa – An Indispensable South Indian ClassicAnother unsung hero, Dosa comes in different shapes and varieties and Chennai offers them all. We have Plain Dosa, Ghee Dosa , Masala dosa,Paper Roast, Podi Dosa, Onion Uttappam, Rava dosa and combination of either two (for instance , we also have Ghee Podi dosa). Masala dosa and Paper Roast happen to be the crowd favorite. Dosas, like idlys, are often enjoyed with a generous helping of sambar, chutney and idly podi.
Try out this popular South Indian breakfast at Murugan Idly shop, Anna Nagar.
4. Pongal – Soft Mushy Rice For BreakfastThis very traditional breakfast delight is served piping hot with helping of sambar and chutney along with medhu vada. Pongal is basically soft mushy rice seasoned with cumin seeds and black peppers, topped with a generous dash of curry leaves, ghee and roasted cashews.
Pongal is like a celebration of the South in your mouth and it is no wonder that Pongal is also the harvest festival of Tamil Nadu.However, during the traditional 14-day festival, sweet pongal is made with jaggery and palm sugar, with a generous helping of ghee, cashew nuts and sometimes even raisins.
Try out the pongal at Saravana Bhavan, Anna Nagar.
5. Idiyappam – Rice Noodles With Coconut Milk Or Spicy Egg CurryThese rice string hopper is traditional dish, often eaten for breakfast and dinner. These rice noodles are often enjoyed with fresh coconut milk. If you don’t happen to have a sweet tooth, try them out with chicken stew or its infamous partner, spicy egg curry.
Buhari hotel (Anna Nagar) is the right destination to enjoy this delicacy served with spicy lamb curry.
6. Onion Samasa – Hot Sizzling Samosas With Filling Of Caramelized OnionsChennai sings pride with this deep fried evening snack filled with a generous amount of caramelized onions. Be sure to try them out at Karpagambal Mess, Mylapore. It also often sold by vendor in local trains.
7. Mylapore Filter Coffee – Brewed Ground CoffeeThis hero needs no introduction. Finely brewed ground coffee beans mixed with frothed and boiled milk, is what this coffee is all about. Just that aroma and that strong taste of coffee, will give you a ride of your lifetime.
Try out this infamous filter coffee at Mylapore Filter Coffee outlet, Mylapore.
8. Kothu Borota – Chennai’s Street FoodThis popular street food of Chennai is often indulged as an evening snack and sometimes even for dinner. Minced parotta, stirred fried with generous chunks of chicken or scrambled eggs mixed with a spicy authentic curry, is a popular delicacy and it’s a serious felony if you don’t try them out.
Kothu borota works best with a side of chicken curry and beer. Try out its authentic version at Anjappar Restaurant, Tripilcane.
9. Authentic Chettinand Meal – The Perfect LunchA food trail across Chennai isn’t complete if you don’t indulge an authentic Chettinand meal. Chettinad cuisine is infamous for its spicy non-vegetarian dishes, mainly owing to fish, crab, shrimp and mutton (goat). If you happen to be a vegetarian, don’t you worry since you got a plenty of options as well.
Try out the whole package at Anjappar, Nungambakkam.
10. Thirunelveli Halwa- An Answer To All Your Sweet Tooth WoesThis sweet delicious creamy delicacy hails from the Thirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu and is absolutely a crowd favourite. Thirunelveli halwa is different from its counter parts since it is made from wheat and cooked with heaps of ghee.
Originally, the Thirunelveli halwa is made of wheat and cooked in the water from river of Tambaraparani.
Taste these divine beauties at Thirunelveli Halwa Stall, Nungambakkam.