10 Unique Chennai Food Specialities Every Foodie Must Try
Nothing rings truer than this oft repeated saying. And the food in Chennai truly does bring this saying to life. Food here has evolved greatly over time, being influenced not only by other Indian cuisines and dishes, but also by international tastes. One influence to this vibrant cuisine was the British empire in India. The most remarkable being the Mulligatawny Soup. Originating from one of the most famous indian dishes in England during the British Raj, this soup is a modified version of the famous rasam. Many other influences have played their part in making Chennai cuisine what it is today.
Chennai is a treat for veggies and non-veggies, both. When in Chennai, these next dishes are an absolute must for any foodie.
Every street and corner in Chennai is crawling with establishments that have perfected the art of brewing the most delicious and rejuvenating cup of filter coffee. We call it an art, because nowhere else in the entire country (maybe even the world) will you get a cup of coffee as heavenly as the ones in Chennai. The distinct aroma and the unique blend make south Indian coffee the best there is to sip any time of the day. Granted it’s not food, but Chennai coffee is definitely on top of the to-taste list for every self-respecting gourmet.
To get authentic filter coffee click here.
An extremely popular dish in south india, this ball of steamy hot goodness melts in your mouth and is sure to transport you to nirvana. This is another must for any food lover visiting Chennai.This delicious treat is prepared using a steaming batter of black lentil and rice (quite similar to the batter used to prepare idli and dosa). Kuzhi Paniyaram can be either spicy or sweet using chillies and jaggery respectively. This delicacy of Tamil Nadu can be either fried or steamed.
These delicious little balls can be enjoyed as snacks or as a meal, with chutney. And if you don’t like chutney, don’t worry, they can be devoured with delicious tomato pickle.
Kothu parotta literally means minced parotta (an indian bread made on a flat pan with oil). This high energy, lip smacking street food, that can be had as breakfast, brunch, snack, lunch, or dinner. This is a food not just for the taste buds, but also for the soul. Kothu parotta is made with very few ingredients like parotta, egg, meat, and special spicy sauce called salna. You can also easily make this yummy platter yourself at home!
For those of you who are vegetarians, fret not! There’s a vegetarian version too, made with paneer instead of meat.
The mouth watering taste of this rich and regal chicken curry is one of the most famous of Chennai dishes worldwide. It is easily one the best dishes to try in Chennai, as one can never go wrong with it. Whether you have it with rice or roti, it is always so fabulously rich in taste, it is as if there is a blast of transcendent flavours with the very first bite that sets off in your mouth and make you incapable of stopping from having more. You can even make this amazing work of art at home yourself! Just make sure you follow the recipe. At least the first time!
This lip smacking dish is prepared by tossing boiled chickpeas with mustard seeds, desiccated coconut, raw mango and curry leaves. The sundal is traditional snack which is served during the ten days of Dusherra. The Marina beach is said to be the best place you can sample this dish that is spectacularly bursting with flavours. Sundal is often served as snacks in bars and lounges all over Chennai.
These sweet dumplings are quite similar to modaks available in other parts of the country. Kozhukkatta is a dumpling so sweet, well prepared and mouth watering it is a pleasure to even smell or look at them. It can be had as sweet dish after a meal or even as a sweet and healthy snack, although it is usually eaten as breakfast. These little goodies are prepared with jaggery, rice flour, and coconut.
A bit of an obvious choice to be added on the list is biryani. Chennai’s biryanis, whether chicken, mutton, or vegetarian, are so delightful, they are difficult to put to words. While biryani is not unique to Chennai, it is a class apart from all the others in the country. Here the biryanis range from hot and spicy to delectably sweet, whether it is from a hole-in-the-wall at the corner to a 5 star restaurant. Chennai is a heaven for all biryani lovers. The variety from vegetarian to every type of non-vegetarian biryani imaginable is formidable – chicken, mutton, prawn, fish, beef, and kaadai (quail).
Prepared with a batter of black lentils, chickpeas, and green gram, this soft, fluffy, yet a little crunchy, and oh so tasty dish is also sometimes called South India’s version of a pancake (well, not by the people who live in the south). Adai is mostly a breakfast dish, like uttapam, and is often consumed with coconut chutney. This savoury dish may have its original roots in Tamil Nadu, but variations of Adai are prepared in nearly every south Indian state. This is yet another Chennai food that can be either spicy or sweet. A personal favourite, the sweet Adai, is so soft and succulent, it makes you want that one bite to last forever.
This southern sweet is usually made with rice, sugar or jaggery, and milk, but there are many many variations of this creamy sweet. Some versions are sevai payasam, paruppu payasam, rice payasam, broken wheat, and dal payasam. It is a lot like north Indian kheer but with different flavouring and definitely more character. This is a thick, creamy, sweet, and succulent dish with a subtle yet definite kick in every bite. Garnished with dry-fruits and nuts, this Chennai delicacy will leave you wanting more and make you incapable of ever forgetting the delectable taste with its sharp kick.
This luscious concoction of the south is by far one of the best the place has to offer. Made with butter or ghee, sugar, gram flour, and many a times cardamom, this sweet is so rich in its flavour, and colour. Mysore pak melts in your mouth the second it touches your tongue. Its buttery taste and soft crumbly texture satisfies a craving you didn’t even know you had. This yummy mithai is available in two textures–one is a soft and mushy variety, while the other is more porous and crumbly. This golden brown bite of pure bliss is a definite must for everyone!
Puttu is a yummilicious dish of ground rice cooked in cylindrical form layered with dessicated coconut. This delicacy of Chennai is served with side dishes like palm sugar, channa (chickpea) curry or bananas. Puttu or steamed cake is considered especially tasty with Chennai’s famous fish curry or any other curry. This is essentially a breakfast dish but can be enjoyed any time.
Next time you are in Chennai, do make time to taste these delicious and scrumptious treats. Here’s hoping your experience with these unique foods of Chennai turns out as yummilicious as it was compiling them for you.
Did you like this story? Want to share your feedback/appreciation/criticism? Please feel free to leave your opinion in the comment section below.
Subscribe today to receive our weekly updates on special discounts, mouthwatering deals, new arrivals, unique products, popular brands, and much more.