Eating in Chennai

By Viator, September 2012

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The cuisine of Tamil Nadu is divided into four regional variations, and visitors to Chennai, the capital city of the Indian state, get to experience them all. As people from various parts of the state moved to Chennai, they brought with them different types and styles of food, permanently influencing Chennai’s dining culture.

At breakfast, be sure to try dosai, a savory crepe made from rice flower and filled with a spiced paste, along with idli, steamed rice cakes served with chutney for dipping. Breakfast always comes with filtered coffee mixed with sugar and milk and poured back and forth between to cups to create a frothy morning pick-me-up. To sample all the breakfast favorites, stop by Murugan Idli Shop, a perennial favorite among Tamil locals.

To sample a variety of dishes when eating out for lunch or dinner in Chennai, look for sapadu (meal) on the menu. This staple dish comes with rice and a few Tamil dishes served on a banana leaf or in small bowls on a stainless steel tray. Unlike northern India, Tamil and other forms of South Indian cuisine usually come with rice or lentils in place of naan, roti or other Indian breads. Plan to have at least one meal at Annalakshmi for a typical Tamil vegetarian sapadu.

If you only splurge on a meal once in Chennai, do it at The Wharf, a seafood restaurant at the Radisson BLU Resort specializing in freshly caught tandoori seafood, served at the water’s edge overlooking the Bay of Bengal.

One of Tamil’s most popular regional cuisines, both in and out of India, comes from the Chettinad region of the state. Considered to be one of the spiciest cuisines in a country known for fiery food, Chettinad dishes are heavily spiced and feature dried meats and vegetables with both vegetarian and meat options. The best Chettinad food in Chennai can be found at Anjappar, known for their spicy biryani, a spiced rice dish with meat, fish or vegetables.

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