Category: Food

My favorite self-made foods/drinks


Long time since a food post. Thought I will do a quick one.

I cook very little. Very little, not in quantity but in the count. Of the few things I make, I am very good at few. This post is about those.

1. Rose milk

Rose milk is basically Rose syrup and Milk. You need a good rose syrup. My suggestion/choice is the Nannari rose syrup. All those rose essences sold in supermarkets are crap. Mix two tea-spoonful’s of Nannari syrup with 200 mL of milk. Stir well. If you have a mixer, use the juicer, add few ice cube’s, and smash it. It’s delicious. Meanwhile, if you need Nannari syrup, you get it in Nilgiri’s. For people outside India, very sorry.

2. Butter bun

My grandfather taught me this. Take a bun. A plain tea bun. Not a cream bun with jellybeans stuck in the middle. Not a burger bun with all those sesame seeds. Just a plain bun. Cut it into two. No. Not fully. Let it hang by the throat. Spread it open and take some butter. A spoonful of butter. Don’t melt it. Don’t use ghee. Just butter. Apply butter evenly on either ends of the sliced bun. Once you have applied the butter, take a spoonful of sugar and sprinkle it over the butter. Close the bun. Crown the bun with a pinch of butter. Take a tawa. Put the bun in the tawa. You need to allow the bun to get fried a bit, until it reaches a golden brown colour. Turn the bun upside down. Now, use your dosa spoon to flatten the bun. Turn the bun around. Pick it out and eat when it’s hot.

Photo will be uploaded by Aug 15th.

3.Half-boiled egg

Making a bull’s eye or a half-boiled egg is an art. It is. So far in my life, my attempt to make a bull’s eye or a half-boiled egg has failed very few times. The best is to prepare the tawa for the egg. You need to scrub the tawa with a tinge of oil before you even switch on the stove. Once you have done that, you have to put the egg on the tawa without breaking the yellow. I usually use a knife or a spoon to break the shell. A thin line of break. After that, I use my hands to split the egg shell gently. You gotta be very gentle. Lose concentration, lose egg. Once the egg is perfectly placed in the tawa, take some black pepper powder and sprinkle it generously. You can also mix salt with black pepper and sprinkle it, but IMHO – it just spoils the taste of half-cooked egg.


This is different. But again, its made of egg. I use only egg. Some restaurant’s use big karandi’s (spoons) and chicken pieces too. Take an egg, break it into a vessel, and remove the shell. Add few onions, chillies, salt, and pepper. Stir well. Take a scoop/karandi and allow it to heat in a stove. Once the karandi is hot enough, pour the egg mixture into the karandi. Allow it to turn golden brown on all sides. It’s easy because you can roll it easily.

That’s it for now. Tired and going to sleep. Will update the post if I master anything in near future. Bon appetite!


The local foods I love

Hi All,

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. Smile

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?

The seafood’s I love.

Hi All,

Seafood’s are healthy, are nutritious, are tasty, and is economical. Seafood is one of the best foods you could have in any situation. They are rich in proteins and contain omega-3 fatty acids (polyunsaturated fatty acids). Though consuming seafood is supposed to be healthy, you cannot consume them on all days. Mainly because, they get contaminated with the minerals and adulterants in water, e.g. Mercury, Lead etc. Fish are tainted by mercury released from power plants, municipal waste facilities and medical incinerators, which are the primary source of methyl mercury in fish. Mercury is converted into methyl mercury by bacteria that lives in the water, converting it into the toxin that is then introduced to the fish, as reported by USA Today. So a controlled consumption of seafood (3-4 servings a week) is supposed to be ideal.

Let me get back to the story of my favourite delicacies. There may be many a variety of seafood that people love. My love predominantly orients only towards the foods I have tasted repeated across locations. Opinions differ. If you can add on, I will be happy.

Rank # 10 – Kadamba (Squid) fry

Kadamba is squid. Though hygiene is a thing to worry about in Marina, the taste beats me to it. Every time I go to Marina beach, I never return without having a mouthful of Kadamba fry. It costs very less, say about 30-40 INR. They deep fry the masala soaked squids in oil and add onions, chilly, and other condiments to it. Forget the way they make it. But taste wise, it does get a place in my list.

Rank # 9 – Fried Calamari

Calamari is the Italian word for squid. Since saying “Calamari” is better than saying squid, it makes it more palatable to. Fried Calamari is definitely one of the best starter’s at Tangerine. Its very tasty. You can also try Rabas de Calamar in any good Spanish restaurant, if you find a genuine one. Best would be a visit to Spain because their cuisine has a lot of varieties of squid. In India, I have tasted squids in very few places – Marina beach, Tangerine, Moonlight in Mahabs etc.

Rank # 8 – Ayilai (Mackerel) fry and Sankara (Red snapper) fish fry.

Two of the very best. Ayilai and Sankara are deep fried as whole. They are best eaten in any joint that makes them. All it takes is a lot of masala and lot of oil. My choices for the location would be Marina beach for Sankara fish fry and small eateries in Periamet for Ayilai fish fry. They have their skeleton still inside, so please execute care while consuming these fish.

Rank # 7 –Prawn biryani

Prawn biryani is a good choice. It’s my personal choice after mutton biryani. Since mutton biryani has a lot of fat, I would prefer prawn biryani anytime. Don’t get back to me saying biryani is fat. Sometimes we need to eat something tasty. My choice are not the best of the restaurants out here in Chennai or Trivandrum or Madurai. My choice is a small shop after Neyyattinkara in Kerala (on the road towards Trivandrum). I do not know the address or the name but the prawn biryani I had there was and is the best I have had ever.

Rank # 6 – Raattu (Prawn) masala

Raattu (prawn) masala is easily available. But nothing beats the prawn masala you get in Kumar mess in Madurai (Near Tallakulam). You would just keep swallowing the prawn curry if you go there. In my memory, during a lunch with 3 of my friends, we ordered a total of 11 raattu masala in Kumar mess. It’s that good.

Rank # 5 – Vanjaram/Neimeen (Seer) fish fry

I have always loved seer fish fry. The best for a fry. To avoid the confusion, let me clear one thing. Seer fish is called vanjaram in Telugu and in Northern parts of Tamilnadu. It’s called as Neimeen in Southern parts of Tamilnadu and Kerala. It is actually the Indo-pacific King Mackerel. The best Vanjaram fry i have had is in Mylapore near city centre. The place is a very small joint called Viswanathan mess. It can seat around only 10 people. The vanjaram fry they gave, was odourless and was immaculately prepared. They also have another item in their menu – Prawn thokku. Pure awesome food. Try the place. Its just after the Hamilton bridge in the road near city centre. Lunch with meals and vanjaram fish fry will cost you around 120 INR.

Rank # 4 – Mango fish (seer fish) curry

Tried the mango fish curry in Simran’s aappa kadai in OMR one day and since then, I have been a fan of it. Costs around 120 bucks if I remember it correctly. It contains raw mango pieces cooked with boneless fish pieces. It goes well with their aappam’s and is a good choice for dinner after a long day’s work.

Rank # 3 – Viral (Murrel/Snakehead) fish fry

Viraal (Murrel) fish fry is a delicacy in southern districts of Tamilnadu. Viraal is one fish that is bought live. Dead viraals don’t sell. It has to be scrubbed with brick powder to remove the slimy layer on top. Only when the slimy layer is removed, the fish fry tastes good. My mom makes wonderful viraal fry and that’s the only fish she eats. The best viraal fry I have had, apart from mom’s preparation is in Chandran mess in Tallakulam, Madurai. Each piece costs around 80 INR and I usually eat 2-3 pieces during the lunch. Worth the money.

Rank # 2 – Karimeen pollichathu (Pearl fish/Green chromide)

Karimeen is the official fish of the Kerala state. I do not want to explain it more. Karimeen pollichathu at Kumarakom (the restaurant, not the geographic location) is one of the most acclaimed preparation of the pearl fish. I love karimeen pollichathu and even tried it last week in the velachery branch of kumarakom. It is a evergreen favourite. This is made by wrapping the masala soaked fish in a plantain leaf. This is a favourite in toddy shops and house boats in the district of Alleppey, Kerala. A karimeen pollichathu in Kumarakon restaurant costs you around 200 INR. However, be aware of the fact that, the price of karimeen is very much fluctuating and may vary significantly across days.

Rank # 1 – Ayirai (Lepidocephalus thermalis) meen kolambu.

Ayirai is a freshwater bottom skimmer fish found usually in rivers and ponds. Making a curry of Ayirai is a very carefully manoeuvred procedure because of the intricacies involved in the preparation. The fish have to be bought alive and have to be cleaned by immersing them in milk. Immersing them in milk makes them regurgitate the sand they ingest and also kills them. Very few hotels serve them because of the difficulty in cleaning them. Ayirai fish kolambu is usually made at homes in the southern districts of Tamilnadu. The best ayirai meen kolambu was made by my grandmother who ran a mess (Elango mess) in Melahanumantharaayar kovil street in Madurai town. The mess does not exist now, but the taste still lingers. Even now grandmom makes it sometimes. Second best of ayirai meen kolambu is available in a lot of joints in Madurai. If you are in Chennai and need to taste the ayirai meen kolambu, I will suggest you – Madurai Saradha mess. This mess is located in Wallajah road opposite the MLA hostel (close to the sports shop named Pavilion). Try the ayirai meen kolambu there. The place does not look very hygienic but taste and quality are two different things in few restaurants. Winking smile

*updated picture on 11 Aug 2012*

Ayirai meen curry edited

That’s the list I could prepare. Of special mention, I will list the following:

Raw salmon (Tartare) tasted in Budapest, Hungary.

Roadside fishes in Pondicherry.

Siruoola made by my aunt.

Mathi meen fry (sardines) in Bessy beach and many more.

Add on if you have any suggestions. Will meet you in the next post. Suggest topics if you have any. I would be happy to oblige.


Crowdsourcing based nurtering


Nature writing in Tamil


கனவுகளுக்கு பதிலாக அறிவியல், கண்ணீருக்கு பதிலாக போராட்டம். போராட்டமே நம் இருத்தலுக்கான அடையாளம்.


experiences - travel - photography

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