An online page on Facebook makes your culinary expedition in the Temple town much easy

“Where can one find best Punjabi food in Madurai?” – an online post by a traveller has received nearly 25 suggestions. A colourful e-poster announces the opening of a new Chettinad snacks shop in town. “Your favourite Parotta stall”—an online poll lists out famous eateries serving the street parottas.

This fb page teams with queries for food items and joints, information about new cafeterias in the city, restaurant reviews and online polls on favourite places and dishes to eat. If you are a foodie ready to explore the lanes of the Temple Town and the gully-gourmet they serve, ‘Madurai Food Guide’ makes your job easy.

Heman Babu, a software engineer who started the page says, “I am a big time foodie and this page is just an expression of it. Madurai has been a place for awesome recipes since olden days. Food is one thing that our city population binge on.”

He adds, “Personally, I have tasted signature dishes of almost 90 per cent of the restaurants in Madurai. There were instances when I drove to the other end of the city just to have the best podi idlis.”

Heman claims that he hardly misses any new shop in town and that he knows by heart the best places to have a hearty meal. Truly, he starts off, “Mutton Chukka at Kumar Mess, Idlis at Mudaliyar Kadai, Paal Paniyaram at Appachi, Mudakathan dosai and Keearai dosa at Uzhavan Unavagam, Corn and Spinach sandwich at CCD or Blaack Forest…” and the list goes on.

The thought behind the page is to give instant info about Madurai and its food, to tourists and others. “I started it as a hobby initially. Now, the page gets queries from both travellers and locals on where to eat and what to eat. I keep posting suggestions and many enjoy my short reviews. And I also criticize restaurants on the presentation of the dish and on the addition of too much colouring and flavouring agents.” In eight months, the page has got over 3300 likes.

“The inspiration,” Heman says, “came from ‘Zomato’, a Delhi-based site that reviewed food from all corners of the capital. Later they grew and now are a world-wide setup with a dedicated group of people reviewing restaurants and food across the globe.”

He adds that in big metro cities, there are professional food critics. “There is a well-known 20-member team in Chennai and their site has over 20,000 members. Such info on the net is highly valuable for anyone on the lookout for a good meal in a new city.”

Rajarajan, a Maduraiite, says, “I am a food-lover and every Saturday I am out to explore something new. I found the page handy when I wanted to have spicy non-vegetarian food in the night. A member on the fb page suggested Krishna Mess in Anna Nagar and I found it satisfying and a tad different from the other usual varieties I had tasted before.”

Jeevan from Chennai, who was in Madurai a month back, says, “I had heard a lot about Jigarthanda and I wanted to check it out during my last trip. There were many stalls on the street-side but I wanted to choose the right one. Madurai Food Guide page recommended the place and also gave me the directions to reach there. Finally, I enjoyed the authentic drink near the Palace area”

The page also features innovative recipes and home-try dishes. “I share anything related to food on the page. want to make the page look like an online food dictionary,” says Heman. “I spot trends in eating habits among the city people and write short articles or convert them into a poll asking for opinions. Over the years, I feel that vegetarian restaurants have come down in number.”

Heman wants to start a full-fledged food tour or safari in Madurai for foreigners and tourists.

“I am planning a website where people can book a food safari and they can be taken on a ride around famous restaurants in town. Madurai is so much about food as much it is about the heritage and history. May be I will need more like-minded people to do this.”