Chennai is one such place which amazes everyone by its traditional roots with a twist of modern culture. And what’s the best way to commemorate this culture than enjoying the famous food of Chennai? To help all the foodies out there, we have come up with a list of top 15 delicacies that one must never miss in the famed Madras.

1. Filter Coffee

Starting your day with a cup of aromatic, fresh and hot filter coffee is pure bliss. There are many places in Chennai, which serves authentic Degree Coffee (another name for filter coffee).It is made by preparing the coffee brew and mixing it with equal amount of milk with desired amount of sugar. The filter coffee is served in Dabarah set (a set of tumbler and cup) on tea shops and restaurants. If you want to experience the culture of Chennai, then do try the filter coffee.

2. Masala Dosai

Chennai is considered as a central hub for dosai in Tamil Nadu. You can find different types of dosai in every nook and corner of the city. Of that, masala dosai is the most sought after dish in Chennai. Even though, it is from Mangalorean cuisine, it is a popular delicacy in Chennai. It is made using lentils and rice mixture and is stuffed with potatoes, spices and curry leaves. It is served with hot sambar and 2 or 3 chutney varieties.

3. Idli
Idli is a famous breakfast food in Chennai. It is a savory rice cake prepared with de-husked black lentils and rice. The Idli and vadai curry (a curry made with masala vadai) is one of the best breakfast combinations you can find in Chennai. Other than plain idlis, you can find different varieties like Rava Idli, Vegetable Idli, Mini Sambar Idli, Kancheepuram Idli, Egg Idli, Keema Idli and Chilly Idli. Do try idlis whenever you travel to Chennai.
4. Thayir Vadai

Thayir Vadai has gained the attention of people over the years and has a special mark for itself in the heart of foodies in Chennai. It is made by dressing crispy, hot and deep fried medu vadai (fried flour balls) with a generous amount of curd and spices. It is commonly served as an evening snack in local shops. It is a flavorful food which is a treat for our taste buds.

5. Biryani

Biryani is a famous dish among the both vegetarian and non vegetarian eaters in Chennai. It is difficult to separate Chennai from Biryani. You can find several shops in Chennai which serves piping hot Biryani. It is usually prepared with rice, spices, vegetables, meat or egg. It is served hot with boiled egg, onion raitha and brinjal gravy. Despite having an infinite variety of biryanis, the mutton and chicken biryani are especially famous in Chennai.

6. Sambar Rice

Also known as Bisi Bele Bath, Sambar Rice is the most liked vegetarian dish in Chennai. The sambar rice is a single pot dish, made with rice, lentil, veggies, ghee, spices, tamarind pulp and curry leaves. It is generally served hot with appalam (papad) or potato chips. The spice powder added to the rice is unique and the combination differs according to the place it is made. The aroma and flavor from the sambar rice entices people of all age groups.

7. Kuzhi Paniyaram

Kuzhi Paniyaram is a famous South Indian dish prepared by steaming the rice batter in a mould. It is similar in composition with the idli and dosai batter. It can be prepared in two variations like sweet or spicy. In the sweet version, jaggery is added with the batter and in spicy version, green chillies, onion and curry leaves are added. There is also another version of kuzhi paniyaram where eggs are used. In Chennai, kuzhi paniyaram is eaten as breakfast and evening snack along with sambar and chutneys.

8. Full Meals

Your trip to Chennai is incomplete without trying the full meals from the local eateries. The full meals is a buffet spread in which food items are served in green plantain leaves. You could try all-vegetarian version that includes plain rice, sambar, rasam, poriyal (vegetable stir fry), kottu (mild veggies curry), kara kolamabu, thayir (curd), appalam, roti, gravy, pickle and sweet. In non vegetarian version, you can find meat gravies and chicken or fish fry instead of vegetarian side dishes. There are many eating joints in Chennai, which serves delicious full meals platter at modest rates.

9. Adai

It is difficult to stop ourselves from eating more than one Adai. It is especially delicious as it is loaded with a combination of healthy ingredients. It is prepared by grinding paruppu (dal) and rice, and mixing it with red chillies, onion, and curry leaves to form a coarse batter. It is made in a similar manner to dosai. It is generally served with jaggery or chilli chutney and the taste is heavenly. It is generally consumed for breakfast or dinner.

10. Bajji

Nothing describes Chennai better than bajji from the street shops (especially beaches). Evenings are unforgettable when we take a stroll along the sea shore, eating hot bajjis with chutney. You can find different choices of bajjis from the beach stalls like molaga bajji, vazhaka bajji (raw banana), onion bajji, and urulai kilanku bajji (potato). It is one of the must try snack items while you are in Chennai.

11. Pongal

Pongal is one of the popular breakfast choices in Chennai. It can be prepared sweet (Sakara Pongal) and spicy (Ven Pongal). The paruppu, rice and ghee are the main ingredients in both the versions. Ven Pongal is generally served with hot sambar and chutney along with medu vadai. Sakarai Pongal is made mainly during Pongal festival and is also served as prasadam in temples. Eating the pongal with the ghee oozing out is truly a divine feeling.

12. Chettinadu Chicken

Chettinadu Chicken is a classic recipe from the Chettinadu cuisine. It is a gravy loaded with grounded spices and yogurt. It is served as a side dish for plain rice, chapathi, dosai and idlis. It is widely liked by foodies because of its unique aroma and flavors. If you want to try the authentic version of chettinadu chicken, there are many chettinadu restaurants in Chennai where you can taste it at affordable rates.

13. Fish Curry

Fish Curry is definitely a treat for all the seafood lovers out there. The taste and flavor of the dish vary from place to place, but the Chennai fish curry is acclaimed for being delicious. Being a coastal city, you can find fresh fishes and other sea foods on a daily basis. You don’t need a posh restaurant to taste a good fish curry in Madras. There are several local street stalls which serve mouth watering fish dishes at reasonable prices.

14. Chicken 65

The one dish which you can find everywhere in Chennai is Chicken 65. From local eating joints to reputed eateries, it is the hero of the starters. The aroma of chillies and ginger-garlic paste gives a distinct taste to the dish. The Chicken 65 is Chennai’s favorite appetizer. It’s surely a wonder how folks do not get bored by eating this dish again and again.

15. Pakodas

If you find a crowd in a shop in Chennai, that’s where deep fried and hot pakodas are served. It is the quick-selling snack in Madras. It is prepared in three different versions like onion pakodas, cashew pakodas, and chicken pakodas. Whenever you travel Chennai, don’t miss the chance to taste yummy pakodas from local stalls.

Next time you are traveling to Chennai and looking for a place to stay, do try Ulo Hotels. Experience a relaxed stay at an affordable price.

Author's Bio: 

Abinaya Kannan is from Chennai and working as the Content Writer in Ulo Hotels. She likes traveling and loves to write about Travel & Leisure.