Chennai, the cultural capital of India, is popular for its lip smacking delicacies. It is home to a potpourri of traditional South Indian cuisines. It is undoubtedly a foodie’s paradise. The delicacies are not only a delight to our taste buds, but also a very healthy cuisine. No day is complete for a true Chennaite without having a fulfilling meal on a Banana leaf. Banana Leaf tends to remove all toxins off our bodies. To relish a meal on a Banana leaf, I would recommend Annalakshmi restaurant. It serves a wide variety of authentic South Indian Thalis, at the best prices. Rice being the staple food is the key ingredient of almost all the drool worthy delights.
The traditional values are prominent in this region, such that the people here prefer eating with their own hands as it nourishes our bodies with the required nutrients which we tend to loose, when eating with a spoon. We were served the traditional South Indian Thali in true traditional style and eating with our own hands was an altogether new experience wherein the food tasted far better than when eating with a spoon.
There’s no rule as to what constitutes a Thali. However, a traditional Thali in Chennai includes Ponni White Rice, Sambhar (lentil soup blended with veggies, spices and curry leaves), Pumpkin Kootu, Kosumari (salad soaked in coconut juice), Rava Kesari, Bissi Bheli Baath (Porridge), Adai, Jaggery, Curd Rice, Medu Vada, Mysore Pak and salted Buttermilk. We were served Banana and Jack fruit with slivers of coconut which is mostly offered in South Indian Temples. Prem’s Grama Bhojanam, Mana Andhra, Madras- The Raintree are amongst my favorite eateries serving Thalis.
A typical south Indian household begins its day with a steamy hot cup of sugary Filtered Coffee which is also the signature beverage of South India. We instantly fell in love with the bitter sweet taste of the aromatic beverage. For the best filter coffee, Kumbakonnam Degree Coffee, Mylapore Filter Coffee and Hot Chips are a must go. They serve refreshing snacks with their steamy hot cuppa adding more spice to the palette.
For the most important meal of the day, i.e. the breakfast, the South Indians prefer to have Idli (steamed rice cakes) with Sambhar, Coconut Chutney and Tomato Chutney. For lunch, they usually have Rice with Fish curry, Rasam, Buttermilk and Kootu. For a special strong flavor, dried Curry Leaves are added to the dishes.
Chennai’s tempting and succulent traditional dishes also include Masala Dosa, Vada, Adai, Pongal which taste best with Sambhar and Rasam. Bajjis, which are deep fried Chilies soaked in Gram flour batter, served with Mint Chutney and Filtered Coffee, are also amongst the favorite South Indian evening snacks.
Chennai is also home to India’s most dainty and finger-licking sweets. The most prominent ones include Mysore Pak, which is a blend of a generous amount of Butter, Gram Flour and Sugar. This three- ingredient scrumptious sweet dish just melts in the mouth, leaving a buttery sweet flavor. Rava Kesari, which is a blend of Semolina flour, Saffron, Ghee and Sugar, is yet another hot favorite that can be prepared in a jiffy and is a perfect treat for a hardcore foodie. The most famous sweet shops include Gangotree, Royal Sweets and Snacks and Sri Krishna Sweets. For a regular North Indian Meal, one can visit Fully Local, Sigree and Buhari restaurant. One can also head towards the Marina Beach for palatable Seafood on the shacks and refreshingly sweet Coconut Water.
Chennai is definitely worth a visit. The savories are certainly the pride of this city and one must indulge in their aromatic flavors.