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Madras Week | Chennai city turns 384

Madras Day | Made in Madras

August 21, 2023 01:23 pm | Updated August 28, 2023 04:02 pm IST - CHENNAI

Milagutawny soup

Milagutawny soup | Photo Credit: R. Ravindran

Be it Milagutawny soup, Madras terrace, Madras checks, Madras gaana or Madras baashai, this folder takes you through everything that originated in Madras also known as Chennai, and travelled across India and around the world.

Milagutawny soup

The humble milagu rasam, a comfort food during Chennai’s monsoon, has travelled the world as millagutawny or mulligatawny soup.

The dish was discovered by the British in Madras and they popularised it because they believed it helped relieve cold and fever. Since the British are used to thick soups, they added agents to the rasam to thicken it.

The dish is now offered in elite hotels.

Saidapet vadacurry

The vadacurry had a humble beginning in West Saidapet as recycled vada, but has now made its way onto the breakfast menu of many hotels.

The delicious dish is an accompaniment served for breakfast with dosa and idli. With Bengal gram as its main ingredient, the deep-fried fritters are served in flavourful curry. Earlier, leftover masala vadas from the previous day were repurposed, with some extra masalas, into the breakfast menu through the vadacurry.

However, Saidapet’s signature vadacurry was discovered with freshly made bengal gram fritters at Mari hotel, in Saidapet about 70 years ago. The hotel continues to offer the dish with the hand-down recipe from its founder Marimuthu Devar. M. Kumaran, who runs the hotel now along with his brother.

Pattanam podi

A road at Korukkupet in Chennai was called Snuff Mill Road owing the presence of many a snuff powder manufacturer in the locality. The snuff powder ‘N.C. powder’ still being made in Chennai, is considered special, as ghee/vanaspati is added while grinding the tobacco.

Madras checks

A prominent feature in lungies, handkerchiefs and now even in sarees, the Madras Checks pattern is world-renowned and has been adapted into several garments and styles the world over.

Madras baashai

The dialect of Chennai — ‘Madras Baashai’ was borrowed liberally from other languages, including Telugu, Hindi, Urdu, Sanskrit, among others.

Madras terrace

Madrasis had evolved a way of cooling down themselves and their homes, through a roofing technique called the ‘Madras Terrace’.

Believed to have been around since the 18th Century, the technique involves the use of wooden beams, generally teak, across the two opposite walls requiring a roof, with each beam placed about 18 to 24 inches apart.

Madras Curry Powder

Long before Indian companies ventured out to foreign shores, one Indian brand was already truly a global brand. It ruled the global curry powder and pickles industry for close to 100 years. The brand, Vencatachellum Madras Curry Powder, is owned by a company founded by an Adi Dravidar, a scheduled caste, from Madras.

The brand name was synonymous with Madras Curry Powder the world over and continues to be fondly remembered in many countries including the UK and Australia long after its heyday.


Gana music, which remained endemic to north Madras, became popular across the Tamil-speaking world with their effective deployment in film music by composer Deva since the 1990s.

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