Food

The taste of the Temple Town

MADURAI, TAMIL NADU, 11/01/2017: Bustling Gopu Iyengar's Tiffin Centre in Madurai. Vellai Appam and Brinjal Bajji with spicy chilly chutney.
Photo: R. Ashok

MADURAI, TAMIL NADU, 11/01/2017: Bustling Gopu Iyengar's Tiffin Centre in Madurai. Vellai Appam and Brinjal Bajji with spicy chilly chutney. Photo: R. Ashok

At 7 a.m. each day, the streets around the Meenakshi Temple bustle with activity. Amidst the cacophony of sounds and colourful sights surrounding the touristy hub of Madurai, it is the unmistakable whiff of ghee dosas and fried vadas that pulls you in. Whether you are a local or a tourist, there is so much to explore around the temple especially for the foodies. Several traditional joints serve their signature recipes and it is not only their tasty food that fills you up. The lofty colourful gopurams of the temple are also a feast for the eyes as you enjoy the food sitting inside these decades-old eateries.

The inviting aroma on the East Chithirai Street takes you to the 40-year-old restaurant Durga Bhavan, famous for its crispy dosas served with three varieties of chutneys and a thick sambhar made of moong lentils.

Hunting for the best idlis is not a task in Madurai, because idli is the food that the city swears by. But, for the perfectly round and super-soft idlis, look no beyond the popular Murugan Idli Kadai on Thalavai Agraharam Street. Not to forget that the global food chain had its humble beginnings in the Temple city. The much acclaimed brand of idlis are as fluffy as cotton and so effortlessly melt in the mouth.

If you want to burn up the calories after a heavy breakfast, take a stroll around the Chithirai Streets before another binge. The shutters of the 110-year-old Nagapattinam Nei Mittai Kadai go up at 10 a.m. but people huddle there long before. Popular for the ghee-dripping halwa and the piquant Urulai Kizhangu masal , the shop is one iconic eatery located right opposite the West Tower. A bite of the blobby halwa served on mantharai leaves coats the palate with sugar and ghee and the best antidote for the sweet indulgence is the Urulai masal . A favourite combination for curd rice, the masal is a hit among spice lovers. People jostle for a parcel of the masal and it gets over in no time.

If 11 O’ clock is your customary coffee break time, then what better than the traditional filter coffee at the legendary Visalam Coffee Bar on North Chithirai Street. Thick and frothy in consistency, strong and flavoursome, the filter coffee here keeps the town up and running round- the-clock. A recharge with a tumbler of coffee is also not without some quick bites like vadai and bajji . Walk down to the Naveen Bakery at the junction of the East and North Chithirai Street. It is a landmark where people catch up over tea cakes, puffs, vadais , bondas and polis.

Before your hunger pangs for lunch return, there is enough time for window shopping in the temple area. Tightly placed with the regular shops, you will surely spot the numerous sappadu kadais that dot the area. For instance, the 50-year-old Modern Restaurant on Nethaji Road is known for its typical vegetarian elai sappadu while the Chettinad mess on Thyagi Thayammal Street or Jayavilas Club on East Avani Moola Street are the places for a spicy non-vegetarian lunch.

There is scope for post-lunch snacking too with umpteen number of road-side joints serving a wide range of evening snacks. Standing out among them is the 100-year-old Gopu Iyengar Kadai, tucked in a corner on North Chithirai Street that serves signature items like Vellai appam and brinjal bajji from 3 p.m. To 7 p.m. Delhiwala on West Tower Street and Narsingh Sweets on West Avani Moola Street, offer north-Indian snacks like chaats, kachoris and milk sweets.

After many rounds of mindless eating, if you are still up for it then take a swig of paruthi paal and later the ubiquitous Jigarthanda and wind up your day-long eating expedition and still feel light at the end of it all.


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Printable version | Aug 6, 2022 12:10:35 am | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/metroplus-takes-you-on-a-7-am-to-7-pm-food-trail-around-the-famous-meenakshi-temple/article24103948.ece