After the seafood post, I have come back with another topic on local food/snack items I love. This post is oriented only to Tamilnadu and Pondicherry. Foods from other states are not included. Let us move on to the list.
Rank # 10 – Vada pav in Sowcarpet, Chennai
Sowcarpet is famous for its north Indian population composed predominantly of Marvari’s. I have tasted Vada pav in Mumbai and in interior parts of Maharashtra (Kolhapur, Miraj, Sangli, Nagpur etc.) The vada pav available in chennai cannot be as good as those. But still, 1 place where I got stumped was Sowcarpet. There are quite a few joint’s in Mint street where you get Vada pav’s. Mukesh, a friend of mine, took me there for a visit and I had a sumptuous lunch with vada pav’s only. I don’t remember the shop’s name. Maybe I will catch up with Mukesh and post the name in the comments here.
Rank # 9 – Curry bonda in Pondicherry
We used to travel by motorcycle’s to Pondicherry while in college. Once during a visit, few friend’s went ahead and were waiting for us near the entrance to Pondicherry (Near the university in ECR). While waiting, they stumbled across this roadside eatery that was selling bonda’s. When we joined them, they suggested it to us. The outcome was just awesome. We have had masala bonda’s, mysore bonda’s and even turnip bonda’s in a variety of places, but never had tasted mutton bonda’s or beef bonda’s ever. This eatery served those stuff. The prices were unbelievable. I think they charged us INR 2 for a mutton bonda. I had a suspicion that the bonda’s had beef, but never mind, they tasted good and the beef/mutton was well cooked. No regrets. I haven’t seen that joint after that visit. Maybe someone from pondicherry can help us locate it again.
Rank # 8 – Muttai masala in Red hills, Chennai.
Muttai (egg) masala was introduced to me by my friend Rajesh. Rajesh is a practicing dentist in the Red hills area. When we eventually met during our first year of college, he took me to red hills and showed the awesome burmese cuisine available on the roadside eateries there. There were many varieties – Atho, Moina and Muttai masala. Of these, the one I was/am still fascinated about is the mutta masala. It is not the typical egg curry you get to eat with dosa in restaurants like ponnusamy etc. Its a boiled egg cut into two with a custom made masala thrust into the centre. The masala is partly crispy and the egg containing it has to be thrust into the mouth fully and then chewed. This is one wonderful food you could get in Redhills. Never miss it when you cross Redhills.
Rank # 7 – Muttasu in Aruppukkottai.
Muttasu is a variety of sweet which is available very easily in the Ramanathapuram and Tirunelveli districts in Southern part of Tamilnadu. Its a jalebi kind of sweet made of jaggery. If you go to Aruppukottai bus stand, you will find all shops having towers of Muttasu. They are very cheap, probably not very hygienic. But as I have earlier said, for me, taste matters. I don’t mind getting poisoned with food as long as it is tasty. You can try this. It’s not bad always!
Rank # 6 – Asoka halwa in Tanjore.
Asoka – the sweet is called that. Its a type of halwa predominant in the Tanjore district of Tamilnadu (Thiruvaiyaaru to be specific). It’s an awesome sweet dish that took me by surprise. The taste still lingers. Made of yellow split lentils (moong dal/Payattham paruppu), this one is high on its ghee and sweet content. Diabetic’s can taste it once in a year!
Rank # 5 – Kaaraa chevu from Sattur and Kovilpatti
Sattur and Kovilpatti are small towns located in the Madurai – Tirunelveli highway. Sattur is famous for its sevu. Sevu is a spicy snack, consumed very commonly in the southern districts of Tamilnadu. I don’t know what they add to make the sattur sevu special, but it’s definitely special. My uncle, who works as an English professor in SR Naidu college in Sattur brings home the sevu, everytime he comes home. That is my Dad’s favourite. They also make wonderful Muttasu!
Rank # 4 – Godhumai halwa at Laala kadai, Madurai.
Madurai is a foodie’s heaven on earth. I will do a separate post on the foodstuff’s available in Madurai. It would actually take more than 3-4 posts to cover them totally. But no one can miss this godhumai (wheat) halwa in Madurai. Right opposite to the railway station, the Laala kadai starts serving halwa at 4 am in the morning and goes on until midnight. This is one place where you can get hot hot halwa.
Rank # 3 – Kovilpatti kadalai mittai
Kovilpatti is famous for its kadalai mittai (Peanut candy). A booming small scale industry in that region, preparation of the kadalai mittai is a versatile opportunity there. Just like how dindigul is synonymous with biriyani, kovilpatti is synonymous with kadalai mittai. They mix peanuts with jaggery and allow it to set. When its almost set, they are cut into small squares or rolled into small balls and are packed. Try it to remember the taste. No kadalai mittai in the world can beat kovilpatti kadalai mittai.
Rank # 2 – Tirunelveli halwa
The name says it all. There are a variety of shops that sells halwa in Tirunelveli, but only a few are actually good. Iruttu kadai located opposite the Nellaiyappar temple, Shanthi sweets located close to the junction, Ganesh pasumpaal stall near the Nellaiappar temple tank are few outlets where you get wonderful halwa. I am planning to do a shoot in the Ganesh halwa shop as the owner is known to my in-laws. You can expect a detailed photo story on halwa making in a few months. Caution – You may find numerous Shanthi sweets across Tirunelveli. None of them is original. Please enquire locals and get the halwa. Else you will regret the taste.
Rank # 1 – Jigartanda in Madurai.
Again, the name says it all. Jigar means heart. Tanda means cool. A drink which will keep your heart cool is Jigartanda and it stays true to its name. It is also a drink/dessert that will make you throw away all those coke/pepsi kind of drinks. A coolant made of agar-agar, badam ice cream, a unique solution known only to the makers and an essence to add flavour, Jigartanda is Madurai’s own drink. You don’t get it elsewhere, and if you get it, it’s not Jigartanda. Jigartanda is very good in two shops I know. One near vilakkuthoon and another one in Manjanakaara theru – both in Madurai. Don’t ever try that in Murugan idli shop or any other outlet. Or rather try it there and then try it in these outlets. You, for sure, will know the difference. Two pictures for Jigartanda because it wins the first place.
There are many more.
Macaroons in Tuticorin
Rose milk in Modern Restaurant, Madurai
Jalebi in Rohini’s, Porur, Chennai
Basundhi in Nandhinee sweets, Valasaravakkam, Chennai etc.
Since the post is about my favourite’s, I will settle with the above-mentioned. What are your favourite’s?