Chennai is the vegetarian hub of India. ‘The Gate Way of South India’ has been a cultural and traditional boost for Indian tastes. The staple diet is the rice, so just about everything is from rice or its derivatives. Like the city itself, the flavours are immemorial too! This city is the source of many lip smacking celebrated edible treats. These are some of the most loved food one must not miss!
NAMMA FILTER COFFEE
At the break of dawn, Chennaites look out for the traditional golden hued Filter Coffee, a.k.a the “Madras Kaafi” or the “Degree Coffee.” Made using the age old steel filters, the Filter Coffee offers a delightful new taste to all the caffeine lovers! The Coffee is ALWAYS served with a steel tumbler and a dabarah (the local version of a saucer!). The “mixing and cooling” ritual is a fun watch, where the coffee is poured back and forth between the dabarah and the tumbler to make its temperature sip- friendly! Once served, you will savour the key essence of this beverage, the aroma. As you blow the foam away, the laces of pea berry and milk clear the nostrils and add to the pleasure. The soothing touch of Chicory milk with the blend of roasted beans wins over the mild sugary taste. This tepid drink surely taunts the modern espressos!
A tea stall in Chennai
Chennai homes many famous Filter Coffee makers like The Madras Coffee house, T. Nagar and the well known Kumbakkonam Filter Coffee stalls. The Filter Coffee stands out as the most natural and perfectly brewed coffee , and your taste buds will crave for more! After all, coffee is always a good idea, isn’t it?
THE BREAKFAST CUISINE
“All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast” –John Gunther
The breakfast is a diverse celebration in Chennai.
After long walks along the beach or the ever happening Marathons in the city, a filling breakfast is all you need! As you scan through the menu, there are wide varieties of “tiffins” you could try; here are a few must haves!
The Indian cake made with lentils and rice, Idli, is the most preferred breakfast locally. The taste comes with the chutneys and sambar it is plated up with. The chutneys come in flavours of coconut, peanut, tomato and coriander. Each flavour is distinctly enjoyable. Every restaurant will have you served with their own style of sambar, the signature dish among South Indians. Don’t forget to check out the mini idlis soaked in a bowl of sambar, which is a perfect combination to bask in. Idlis can be paired up with vadas, be it the donut sized Medu Vada or Masala vadai. The yummiest tiffins are served in Murugan Idli Shop, Grand Sweets and Snacks, Shasthri Nagar.
Dosas or the “Dosai” are the usual oily alternatives of Idli. Eaten with the same Sambar and chutney,they give a tastier experience. There are a wide variety of dosas depending on the stuffing and the batter used. Masala Dosa, Rava Dosa, Onion Dosa, Paper Dosa are some of them.Follow this with a cup of coffee to make a perfect start for the day!
CHETTINAD CHICKEN CURRY
Here’s for the chicken lovers! A perfect maincourse with spicy chicken!
Chettinadu Kolli (Chettinad Chicken) , a dish from the Chettinadu village,is known for using original spice ingredient to make Chettinadu masala curries. The Chettinad restaurant uses 23 different spice ingredients to cook this authentic curry. It would be only fair to say that this is the favourite dish in Chettinadu. Makes an unbeatable combination with tomato rice and poori.Melagu Kulli, a recipe in Chettinad is for the spice lovers. Black peppers are native to India and are extensively cultivated there for both its flavours and medicine. At Chettinad, cubes of chicken is cooked with black pepper and south Indian spices. Chettinad chicken and lambs are considered as one of the best cuisines in Tamil Nadu.
The other popular restaurants with Chettinadu cuisine are Karaikudi and Anjappar located in different parts of the city. Worth a try!
Pongal is not just a dish, it is a part of celebration in Tamil Nadu. Pongal marks the harvest festival in Tamil Nadu when the Sweet Pongal or “Sakkurai Pongal” is made and served. An astounding fact about Pongal is that, it can be prepared in two forms with the same base ingredients. The Ven pongal gives a bland taste usually taken with chutney. The Sakkurai Pongal, uses rice and sugar, giving a sweet taste. Ghee improves the taste giving an addictive feel. Saravana Bhavan serves the best pongal in the city.
THE RICE MEAL
Rice is irresistible to the South Indians. Something as plain as rice can be paired up with any “curry” of our choice. Don’t miss the South Indian meals which will leave you content. Some of the most famous dishes are Vatral Kuzhambu, Avial, Moru Kuzhambu and ofcourse, the pickles. Khuzambus are exciting experiments done with dal and native spices. A glass of water by your side is a must have, but the whole experience will make you crave for more. These tried with smoky hot rice will make your taste buds light up with glee.The best restaurants serving delicious meals are “Hotel Saravana Bhavan” , “Dindugal Thalapakatty”, Nungambakkam, “Haven Sampoorna”, Besant Nagar.
I hope you will soon enjoy the Chennai cuisine and admire it wholeheartedly.