The IPL 2019 journey has been an exciting one for Chennai Super Kings’ captain cool MS Dhoni and his team. So far, they’ve one 14 matches in the league; however, are still a few points away from the top position. While the CSK stars prep to take the lead, how about all you fans make the most of this time by bingeing on some delicious eats from your favourite team’s homeland? From the south Indian breakfast staple idli to lip-smacking sundal, here’s a list of the top five tasty treats from Chennai.
Although the Uber Eats and Swiggy analytics revealed that Bangalore is the idli capital of India, with the highest number of orders placed in 2018, you may be surprised to know Chennai is as obsessed with this steamed rice cake. From breakfast to dinner and midnight snacks, a plateful of piping hot idlis is an anytime dish for the city. Some like it dipped in the good ol’ sambhar, while many others prefer theirs coated with the spicy podi and a dollop of ghee. Oh, and did we mention about the variety of chutneys served with idlis? Yeah, that too! To binge on the best idlis, you can head to Murugan Idli Shop, Triplicane Ratna Café, or Saravana Bhavan. All three of these eateries have multiple branches across the city.
Also read: Best places to eat in Chennai Super Kings' homeland
Chicken 65 is one of the few dishes Chennai can call its own. The recipe involves coating chicken in a special masala mix and frying it to perfection. This deep-fried chicken dish, created by the city’s Buhari Hotel, has several theories associated with it – actually, the number ‘65’ in its name. Of the many theories, one suggests that the dish is cooked with a 65-day old chicken and hence, it was named chicken 65. Yet another theory goes that its marinade takes 65 days to prepare. Legends aside, today, chicken 65 is one of the most famous dishes in Chennai. From upscale bars to street food joints, this chicken dish is available everywhere. However, blame it on nostalgia, but Buhari is still a go-to for locals when in the mood for a promising chicken 65.
No other shoreline in India probably has as varied choice of seafood dishes as Chennai. Nethili fry is just one of those. It is basically marinated succulent anchovies fried and tossed in a spicy masala mix. This addictive crunchy fish fry dish is a popular snack at Chennai’s beaches. Apart from food stalls at the Marina and Elliot’s beach, one can find a delicious plate of nethili fry at the Kaaraikudi Chettinad Restaurant in the city.
Sundal is a snack made using boiled lentils such as chickpeas, black-eyed beans, and black chickpeas. It is flavoured with chopped mangoes, mustard seeds, and curry leaves. A few other versions of sundal also contain shredded coconut, chopped onions, and boiled potatoes. Just like nethili fry, sundal is best sampled at stalls by the beaches in Chennai. If not there, you can also chomp on this popular snack at several bars in the city.
Also read: Chennai's 'Amazing Auto' driver, inspiring people one ride at a time
In the mid-1960s, a large group of Burmese migrants settled in Chennai (then Madras), forming a small colony near the beach. Atho, a popular fast food from Burma, came to the city with them and today, is an inseparable part of Chennai’s foodscape. While the traditional atho is made using noodles, potato, tomato, kaffir lime, beans, fermented tea leaves, and pickled ginger, its Chennai version was adapted to suit the Indian palate. It has cabbage, fried onion, tamarind juice, chilli powder, a dash of lime and a pinch of a flavour enhancer (psst… MSG).
Must watch: Burmese lentil soup by chef Gautam Mehrishi
Complete your Chennai food experience with a glass of chilled rose milk. Many restaurants and roadside stalls serve this humble drink but ask the locals for the best one and they’d guide you to the legendary Kalathi Newspaper Mart. Rose milk at a newspaper mart? Yes, you read that right! Located in Mylapore, this small store has been selling the creamy concoction of milk and rose syrup since 1952. Watch all about it on LF’s Dakshin Diaries with food chronicler Rakesh Raghunathan.
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