So far our gastronomic quest across Chennai has been amazing. In this leg of the Chennai food tour, we decided to join three of the super enthusiastic foodies and bloggers from the city to get a firsthand experience of what the locals have for snacks in the bustling streets of the city. We were ready for a different kind of spread that was far distanced from the staple street food offering.
We were happy to start the journey with Irfan who was super jovial. Our first stop for the evening was Bharathi Mess at Mylapore where we tried the healthy spread of pearl millet, ragi or finger millet, and spinach dosas with coconut and red chilli chutneys. Another dish that was worth trying was the Karuvepala Podi Idli. It was essentially stir-fried idly tossed with lentil tempering, onion, spices, and curry leaves powder ( Karuvepalai is the Tamil term for curry leaves powder). The delicious, tangy, and spicy dish had a distinct flavour of ghee in it.
The second stop was a bustling joint whose popular fares included home styled Karappu (sweet) Paniyaram and Pal Kozhukattai. The former is fried stuff made up of rice and coconut batter while the later was a thick mixture of tiny rice dumplings cooked in coconut milk and jaggery. Both the sweet dishes were authentic components of Tamil cuisine that are primarily prepared in households and are seldom found on the streets. The taste was magical.
Our third stop was Marina Beach which was full of cheerful crowd out for recreation. There was food all around and the variety was mind-boggling. Here we tried an assortment of humble vegetable bhajjis or fritters from a stall. It was fresh and the taste was basic.
The fourth stop there was a stall selling Nombu Kanji or a subtle, lightly spiced delicious porridge made up of rice, lentils, meat, and tomatoes with a hint of fenugreek in it. It is a popular dish that the locals consume to break their fasts during Ramazan.
Our fifth food halt was at a local stall selling Atho which is a Burmese-styled hand-tossed noodle salad that had cabbage and chicken in it. It tasted great along with the peppery soup that accompanied it. This Burmese-influenced dish is quite popular in the area. We bid adieu to Irfan with a kulfi treat.
The next host for the evening was Rivi who walked us through the exciting culinary experience at the Beseant Nagar beach. Here we tried a potpourri of yummy snacks which included the raw mango peanut Sundal, the fresh and crunchy Appalams , fried fish with the sprinkle of Tamil spices and the interesting Mud coffee. We specifically liked the fried fish which was spicy on the palate yet delicious and the crisp and subtle Appalams.
Our last host of the evening was Sarath. We went on to try the Shawarma at a famous local joint where they served it like a sandwich instead of a roll. The deliciously cooked chicken was served between two flats bread with dollops of mayonnaise on it. It was indeed finger-licking yummy.
The most surprising thing that Sarath made us try was the Naan and Butter Chicken at Charminar joint in Misharpet market which was available for just ten bucks. That sounded really fascinating to us. The very small portion of butter chicken gravy and a thin Naan made this deal possible. Taste-wise it was average.
Our final stop in this gastronomic street food sojourn was a Halwa shop at Royapettah. The Tamil Nadu Halwa House is a famous joint that has been catering to the sweet cravings of the locals with its hearty assortment of halwas. We tried two of its specialties; the Dum ka Roat halwa and the Ande ka halwa. The former was basic milk halwa that seemed to have a hint of crunch to it due to the sugar and reduced milk element in it, while the later didn’t taste like egg at all. We thank all our hosts for making the day so amazing.
# chennaistreetfood #delhifoodwalks