For decades, South Indian cuisine has thrilled the palates of numerous foodies worldwide. Tamil Nadu’s ever-popular idlis and dosas have repeatedly crossed boundaries and found their way into our stomachs and hearts. While each city has its own unique selection of meals, we have focused on the culinary capital of the state: Madurai.
Madurai’s food culture has been primarily shaped by various communities like the Madurai Saurashtrians (from Gujarat) and due to the brief phase when the city was ruled by the Madurai sultanate. Although new restrictions have stopped the practice of all-night food booths, there are still plenty of street food outlets and family-owned restaurants where you can get your fill of comfort food till midnight.
We go beyond the basics and provide you with a variety of mouth-watering delicacies that are genuine to South India’s culinary capital and that you just must taste.
Bun Parottas from Madurai Bun Parotta Kadai
Parottas are one of the most iconic street foods of Tamil Nadu. They have also made their way to the menus of many five-star restaurants across the country. A cross between a bun and parotta, the Madurai famous bun parotta is a must-try. While the history of this dish is unclear, it is agreed that it came into being somewhere in the 90s. The crispy and melt-in-your-mouth bun parotta is best eaten with any meat-based curry.
Idlis from Murugan Idli Shop
How can we not make a listicle on local foods of Madurai and not include the beloved idli? This spongy steamed, round cakes are served with various chutneys and delicious sambar. Idlis can be found in every nook and cranny of this city, but the best ones are at the Murugan Idli Shop. Founded more than two decades ago, this idli eatery is now on every foodie’s list when they visit Madurai.
Idiyappam from Burma Idiyappam Kadai
This eatery rides on just one dish- the string hopper or idiyappam. This no-frills restaurant stays true to its roots and has been serving idiyappam for decades. It has also chosen to remain small and offers no seating. The Madurai staple is served with two sides, a tomato-based chutney and a coconut-milk sweetener.
Jigarthandai from Famous Jigarthanda
Walk through any lane in Madurai, and you will find a street vendor selling the famous Jigarthandai, a popular cold drink. The concoction of condensed milk, fresh-made ice cream, and sarsaparilla syrup from Famous Jigarthanda is a local favourite. It is a great dessert option after a heavy lunch or a late-night dinner.
Kalkandu Sadham from Sri Nagalakshmi Annexe
Unlike jigarthandai, there are no doubts regarding the origin of this sweet dish. The rice-based, sugary dish was brought to Madurai by the silk-weaver Saurashtrian Gujrati community sometime in the 14th century. Enjoy the sweet dish at Sri Nagalakshmi Annexe, one of the few authentic Saurashtrian restaurants in Madurai.
Sooji Appams from Push-carts in Teppakulam
Sooji Appams are a favourite street food in Madurai. The main ingredient of the dish is maida dough that is stuffed with sweet porridge that is made of rava or coconut. This is then deep-fried until golden and puffed up.
Kola Urundai from Chandran Mess
Mutton Balls or Kola Urundai is another dish for mutton lovers. This melt-in-your-mouth minced mutton fried ball can be savoured solo or with rice. Made in a kitchen still maintained by the family owners, this dish harks back to simpler times. Don’t think twice and head straight to Chandran Mess, where you can relish this masala filled delicacy along with full meal options.
Keerai Vada from Kararajar Salai
This tea time snack is typical of South India. It is found on roadside tea stalls all over Madurai. The vada is made from crushed urad dal, mixed with water, dried and powdered Mulmurungai leaves, and mixed with cumin and pepper powder. This batter is made into round doughnut-shaped balls and deep-fried.
Vegetarian Thali from Sriram Mess
To indulge in a full course South Indian meal, served on a banana leaf, visit the Sriram Mess. Here you can have a perfect vegetarian thali which has an assortment f various curries, sambar, rasam, curds and rice. Along with this, they also have pickles, masala vadais, papads and marinated chillies.
Kari Dosa from Simmakal Konar Kadai
No dish reveals Madurai’s strong love for mutton like the Kari (mutton) dosa at this local eatery. It will make you fall in love with it the minute you take that first bite. Finely minced meat, caramelised onions, curry leaves and ginger-garlic paste all incorporate this mouth-watering treat. This triple-decker dish is built on a thick dosa with an omelette and a layer of minced meat.
To know more visit Tamil Nadu Tourism’s official website.
In Partnership with Tamil Nadu Tourism