This blog post is dedicated to epicures, especially the South Indian food and that too, particularly available in Madurai City.
Madurai is a city that never sleeps because one can get to eat cooked food even at 2.00 am.
Madurai city is located in the center of Tamilnadu state in India. It is located some 500 km away from Chennai. Madurai is also a temple city because of some extremely fine temples that would make even the die-hard atheist open his mouth agape.
Madurai city is also a gateway to so many natural attractions such as great mountain resorts, hill stations, and water bodies.
The lodging options in Madurai city are plenty; one can stay for as little as Rs.500 per night to Rs.12000 per night.
Similarly, one can survive at just Rs.100 per day on food and that too by eating sumptuously. The street food in Madurai and the low-priced restaurants are a delight to gastronomes.
In this blog post, I will list out the special foods of Madurai and where to them in Madurai city. I foresee this list of what to eat and where, in Madurai, would be saved by the finest connoisseurs of the world.
The Madurai food scene is a place where you can eat to your heart’s content the best of South Indian cuisine, Chettinad cuisine, and even Malabar food. The astonishing range of idli, dosai, chutney, sambar, roti, meat and sweet would make a casual visitor to Madurai city to extend his stay inevitably.
1. Idli Sambar, Madurai City Special
Naturally, the first food item in this long list of Madurai foods is the Idly, South India’s foremost breakfast dish that is also eaten in the evening and night. Wherever you decide to stay in Madurai, you can get the fluffiest idlis that are soaked in hot and spicy sambar.
During the night, the street food kiosks would also sell steaming idli accompanied by several varieties of chutney and meaty gravy.
The best place to eat idli and chutney is the Murugan Idly Kadai and Annachi Idly shop.
The street food shops have started selling innovative varieties of the traditional idly that include:
- Fried idly
- Chilly idly
- Idly Manchurian
- Curd idly
- Podi idly
The South Indian dosai that once an exclusive delicacy in Tamilnadu is now available pan India. Apart from Tamilnadu, the dosai is called ‘dosa’ in other parts of India. Long ago, there were only three or four versions of dosai in Madurai city and other places in Tamilnadu.
- Sada (plain) dosai
- Rava dosai
- Masala dosai
Now, even in Bangalore, I saw roadside vendors selling 100 varieties of dosas.
Madurai was the city in India to start serving ‘family dosai’, a lengthy dosai that can be eaten by a family of three or four persons simultaneously, sitting side by side.
Madurai ‘s dosai variety is mindboggling. Accompanied by several varieties of chutney in which you dip every piece of dosai and eat, Madurai city is the ultimate place to relish this fantastic South Indian food which is also eaten all through the day.
The best restaurants in Madurai city to try various varieties of dosai is the Ayyappan dosai kadai (where they make 75 varieties of dosai), Konar mess and of course, the Murugan Idli Kadai.
Address of Ayyappan Dosai kadai:
Pandiya Vellalar St, Periyar, Madurai Main.
Phone: 98650 96095
3. Parotta and Mutton Curry
Next to idly and dosai, the third most eaten food in Madurai is ‘parotta’, an Indian flatbread made of all-purpose flour. Parotta in Madurai is invariably served with mutton curry, a gravy containing goat’s meat. This is a very spicy dish and is also eaten with rice and dosai.
The ubiquitous parotta has several variations these days such as egg parotta, shredded parotta (easy to eat) and chilly parotta.
Arumugam Mess is an exclusive non-vegetarian restaurant that serves authentic Madurai style meat food. They serve 6 varieties of parottas that are:
- Muttai Parotta
- Chicken Parotta
- Mutton Parotta
- Prawn Parotta
- Meen Kothu
- Nandu Parotta
Arumugam Mess, 69, Alagar kovil road, Tallakulam, Madurai Phone: 98421 02777
Ameer Mahal (several outlets in Madurai) is another parotta joint that you can try.
4. Madrai City Delite: Kari Dosai
I think Madurai should be credited for introducing the dosai eating style with meat. Traditionally, dosai is always eaten with vegetarian chutney and sambar. Somewhere in the past (probably 50 years ago), Madurai city people started eating dosai with mutton or chicken curry.
This ‘curry dosai’ caught up the fancy of Madurai residents who always welcome innovation in eating. They call themselves as pure gourmets proudly.
A modern restaurant for eating the famous ‘kari dosai’ in Madurai is the Dosa and Grill.
Dosa and Grill, Palamedu Main Rd, Shanthi Nagar, Koodal Nagar, Madurai 625018, India
Phone: 0452 495 4345 (this is a landline phone number)
Another restaurant in Madurai city that is loved for serving tasty ‘kari dosai’ is the popular Konar Mess that is located at 79, N Veli St, Arajar Salai, Simmakkal, Madurai Main, Madurai.
5. Madurai City Traditional Meatballs: Kola Urundai
This is a snack item in Madurai city and is otherwise known as ‘mutton balls’. The kola urundai widely available in Madurai but the best of the mutton balls that are to be eaten in Madurai is the Chandran Mess that is located in K.K. Nagar, Madurai.
Image credit: Facebook page of Chandran Mess
6. Elumbu Roast (roasted goat bones)
This food is exclusive to Madurai City. Elumbu roast is all about bones of a goat. They are cooked along with tender goat meat to perfection. It contains lots of spices and condiments such as garlic, cinnamon, clove, and black pepper.
The best places to try the goat bones roast is again the Konar Mess and the Arumugam Mess.
7. Madurai City Nethili Meen Kuzhambu
Ah, the Madurai meen kuzhambu! This should have been listed much higher as this is a very popular food among the Maduraians. It is their staple and is mixed with rice and eaten with great flourish and relish.
Meen(fish) used in meen kuzhambu varies and depends on the catch of the season.
Fish caught in the rivers in and around Madurai City are said to be tender and delicious.
Meen kuzhambu served in every non-veg restaurants in Madurai City. You can taste the best meen kuzhambu in Anjappar restaurant and Amma mess in Madurai.
Address: Hotel Annamalai Complex,120 Feet Road
Near Matttuthavani Bus Stand, Matttuthavani, Madurai
Anjappar Restaurant is a chain of restaurants located in various places in Chennai, Bangalore, Madurai, and Coimbatore.
8. Kalkandu Sadam
Rice cooked in milk and sweetened by white sugarcane candy. A liberal sprinkle of saffron and raisins are used to garnish the sweet dish. It is a surprise food in Madurai that is not widely available but only in a few restaurants. The recommended outlet to eat the Kalkandu (sugarcane candy) is Sri Nagalakshmi Annex that is located in Kamarajar Salai, Madurai.
9. Paruthi Paal
Except in Madurai City, this sweetened cottonseed milk is nowhere available or eaten in South India. The milk extracted from cottonseed is a fodder but now the people of Madurai started drinking it because if its health benefits. To enhance the taste, cardamom is added. Paruthi Paal basically sold in street food stalls and available widely in Madurai city.
10. Dessert of Madurai City: Jigarthanda
I know the readers of this blog who hail from Madurai City have been waiting to see this dessert of Madurai in the list of Madurai foods. Jigarthanda has become so famous that its slightly different versions are sold all over the state of Tamilnadu.
I have tasted this exotic drink that comprises milk, nannari (sarsaparilla roots) essence, topped with fresh and sweetened cream and garnished with dry fruits and fruit-jelly crystals.
It served fresh and cold.
It sold in various street outlets and Murugan Idly Kadai.
This is a sweet dish and an exclusive to Madurai city. The bun parotta made of the same ingredients to make the layered parotta plus egg, milk, butter, banana, and sugar. It is difficult to make as it consumes two hours of continuous kneading.
The bun parotta sold in various street food stalls in Madurai City but it available only in the evening.
I have come to the end of the list of Madurai food specials with the most unique dish called ‘vazhial’. Doesn’t it sound like a Malayalam name?
The creative use of eggs and meat gravies and made tasty with the addition of pepper and onions gives birth to the ‘vazhial’. This is a must-try Madurai food and very exclusive to Madurai food scenario.
When you go to Madurai City, try some or all of these food items and eat like a real Maduraian.