Beyond Madurai’s popular foods

The mention of Madurai brings to mind not just the grand temples but also the sumptuous sappadu feasts that the city is synonymous with. From the ever scintillating street-food varieties to the wide range of meat delicacies, Madurai's love for non-vegetarian food is well-known. But beyond the stereotypes of biryanis, idlis and parottas that the city often gets identified with, there are also alternative options for food lovers. Here are some suggestions for you to try.

Updated - November 11, 2017 12:21 pm IST

Published - November 10, 2017 04:36 pm IST - MADURAI:

Kaldosai and goat kidneys

Devouring a pair of goat kidneys for breakfast may sound bizarre but it is indeed a peculiar ritual of sorts for many Maduraiites. At 7.30 am, it is here in the heart of this pilgrim town that you will find people gorging on bowls of sleazy curries made with kidneys, intestines and liver pieces. They are best had with Kaldosai or parottas. “The morning meal has to be heavy and healthy so that you can be up and running all day,” says K Sooryamoorthy, an ardent fan of the kidney gravy. Amsavalli Bhavan and Arulanandar Mess are among the places providing these curries.

Venpongal and variety rice

Venpongal is a familiar breakfast all over. But imagine a plate of the ghee dripping pongal for dinner. That's precisely how Maduraiites time their pongal indulgence. Enriched with perfectly cooked moong dal, tempered pepper and cumin seeds and cashews sautéed in ghee, the venpongal is a wholesome meal. Though the consistency and flavour differs from place to place, the common catch is its unmistakable taste. In the land of spice, the venpongal stands out as a bland yet appetising comfort food. Variety rice or Chitrannam , including tomato, lemon, sambhar and coconut rice varieties along with the pongal also make for a quick lunch. Modern Restaurant, Sabarish and Gowri Ganga are some of the traditional vegetarian joints offering variety rice.

Kola Urundai or Kachoris

COIMBATORE, TAMILNADU, 05/08/2014: Raj Kachori at the new Chaat section opened at 'That's Y Food', in Coimbatore, Tamilnadu.
Photo: K. Ananthan

COIMBATORE, TAMILNADU, 05/08/2014: Raj Kachori at the new Chaat section opened at "That's Y Food", in Coimbatore, Tamilnadu. Photo: K. Ananthan

Snacking is an all-time activity in Madurai. The city has a huge floating population of tourists, traders and visitors and hence tea shops and vadai kadai s thrive throughout the day. But move over the medu vadais and oily bajjis , for there's more to the city's snack scene. The Tamil heartland is not alien to North Indian sweets and savouries. There are quite a few shops dishing out anything from the Raj Kachori to malpua and chaat items. Narsingh sweets, Arya Bhavan and New Delhiwala are some famous North Indian snack shops. If you want to still try something local, light and yet hatke , then go for Kola urundais or mutton kheema balls that's popular both as a side dish in elaborate lunches and as a quick-bite takeaway.

Ceylon Parotta or Sarson ka Saag

Bangalore 08-11-2011 : Hotel Paratha Plaza, at Sanjaynagar in Bangalore on November 08, 2011.  (Pic for Sanjay Nagar Neighbourhood)   Photo: Ashwini. N (Freelancer)

Bangalore 08-11-2011 : Hotel Paratha Plaza, at Sanjaynagar in Bangalore on November 08, 2011. (Pic for Sanjay Nagar Neighbourhood) Photo: Ashwini. N (Freelancer)

Evenings in Madurai are punctuated by the Temple chimes and also the tingling of ladles on sizzling iron tawas. The roadside parotta shops spring up after dusk, dishing out a range of local recipes. And among them the Ceylon Parotta is a distant cousin, as the name suggests. Said to be brought by the Lankan Tamils, the dish is a boxy fold of crispy maida-made parotta, stuffed with scrambled eggs, onions and minced mutton fried in spices. Not in the mood for anymore parottas? Then, try sarson ka saag with makki ki roti or Aloo ka Paratha and aam ka achar . North Indian food is no more a dream in Madurai. It is refreshing to find Punjabi names on menu cards now. And what arrives on the plate doesn't disappoint either. Rang Mahal and Annapurna Mithai are among few restaurants serving North-Indian cuisine.

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