Chennai, being a coastal city in South India, has a rich culinary heritage that combines traditional Tamil cuisine with influences from other parts of South India and beyond. Here are some famous foods of Chennai:
Idli and Dosa
Idli and Dosa are popular South Indian breakfast options that are widely consumed in Chennai. Idli is a steamed rice cake made from fermented rice and black gram batter, while Dosa is a thin pancake made from fermented rice and lentil batter, often served with coconut chutney, sambar (lentil soup), and/or tomato and onion chutney.
Filter coffee, also known as “kaapi” in Tamil, is a popular beverage in Chennai. It is a strong and aromatic coffee made by dripping hot water through a metal coffee filter that contains coffee powder and chicory, and then mixing it with hot milk and sugar. Filter coffee is typically served in a stainless steel tumbler and dabara (small cup) set, which is a unique feature of South Indian coffee culture.
Biryani is a flavorful and aromatic rice dish that is popular in Chennai, especially among non-vegetarian food lovers. It typically consists of fragrant basmati rice cooked with meat (such as chicken, mutton, or fish) or vegetables, along with a blend of spices, herbs, and sometimes saffron for added flavor and color. Biryani is often served with raita (yogurt-based side dish) and/or boiled eggs.
Chettinad cuisine is a famous regional cuisine from the Chettinad region in Tamil Nadu, known for its bold flavors and use of spices. Some popular Chettinad dishes that are widely consumed in Chennai include Chettinad Chicken, Chettinad Fish Curry, and Chettinad Pepper Chicken. These dishes are characterized by their distinctive flavors, which come from the use of spices such as black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, and cloves.
Murukku is a popular South Indian snack that is often consumed in Chennai. It is a crunchy and savory deep-fried snack made from rice flour and urad dal flour, spiced with cumin, sesame seeds, and other ingredients. Murukku comes in various shapes and sizes and is typically enjoyed as a tea-time snack or during festive occasions.
Pongal is a popular South Indian dish that is often consumed as breakfast or lunch in Chennai. It is a rice and lentil dish cooked with ghee, black pepper, cumin, and ginger, and often garnished with cashews and curry leaves. Pongal is typically served with coconut chutney, sambar, and/or tomato and onion chutney.
Vadai is a popular South Indian deep-fried snack that is often consumed in Chennai. It is made from a lentil-based batter, typically made from urad dal or chana dal, and is spiced with green chilies, ginger, and other ingredients. Vadai comes in various shapes and sizes, such as Medhu Vadai (ulundhu vadai) and Masala Vadai, and is often served with coconut chutney and sambar.
Chennai offers a wide range of culinary experiences, from street food stalls to traditional restaurants, that showcase the diverse and delicious cuisine of the city.