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18 things you absolutely must eat in Madras


Madras day is a matter of pride, a cause for celebration. And what better way to celebrate in the capital city than with the joy of food? It’s time to reminisce about the food that we eat everyday that spells out ‘Madras’.

1. Filter Coffee

Waking up to the aroma of fresh, hot coffee, isn’t that the definition of pure bliss? The pure and rejuvenating taste of filter coffee clears our heads and gears us up for the rest of the day.

Filter-Coffee-Madras chennai famous food item

2. Idli

Idlis have to be white, fluffy, soft, moist and perfectly round. The making of idlis is an art that takes time to master. Along with chutney and sambar, the idli platter  makes for a delicious breakfast.

idli chennai famous food item

3. Masala Dosa

The different types of dosas available in Chennai can probably fill all the items on the menu. Stuffed with potatoes, fried onions and spices, the masala dosa is loved by the crowd.

masala dosa chennai famous food item

4. Vadai/Thayir Vadai

Crisp, hot and deep fried vadai sets the tongue drooling. Dressed with a generous dollop of curd and spices, Thayir vadai has gained popularity over the years and made a mark for itself.

thayir vadai chennai famous food item

5. Sambar and Rasam rice

Traditionally, sambar is made with spices, pulses, lentils and vegetables of our choice. It brings a vibrant taste to rice. Sambar rice is faithfully followed by Rasam rice. Rasam is a broth generally mixed with rice.

sambar rice chennai famous food item

6. Meals

The ‘Madras meals’ is a wholesome platter of rice, sambar, pulses, vegetable curry, appalam and a sweet.. The variety offered makes it one of the best dishes to have for lunch.

meals chennai famous food item

7. Kuzhi Paniyaram

This dumpling can be enjoyed two ways; steamed, as well as fried. They are little niblets of happiness. The fried paniyaram is made by deep-frying idly batter and eating it with a sambar or a chutney dip. Made with jaggery syrup, the sweet paniyaram is definitely a good choice if we have a sweet tooth.

kuzhi paniyaram chennai famous food item

8. Bajji

Nothing screams ‘Madras’ more than ‘bajji from the beach.’ Evenings are memorable when we walk along the sea shore, eating hot molaga bajjis with chutney. ‘Vazhaka’ and ‘Urulai kilanku’ bajji are some of the different choices of bajjis available in the beach stalls.

Bajji chennai famous food item

9. Adai

It’s not easy to stop ourselves after having just one adai. Adai is especially tasty as it is packed with an amalgamation of ingredients. It tastes best when eaten along side with jaggery.


10. Pongal

It can be made sweet, ‘Sakarai’, or spicy, ‘Ven’, of which the ven pongal is a popular breakfast choice. Ven pongal is typically eaten with sambar or chutney. The Sakarai Pongal is distributed as prasadam in temples and is the main prasadam made during the ‘Pongal’ festival.

pongal chennai famous food item

11. Biriyani

Spicy and flavour-packed, the biriyani overshadows any other item on the menu. Despite having a gazillion varieties of biriyanis, the chicken and mutton biriyani are particularly famous in Madras.

Chennai Chicken biriyani

12. Chettinad Chicken

Chettinad chicken is a fiery curry that is loaded with a variety of masalas. It goes perfectly with rice, dosas and parottas.

chettinad chicken chennai famous food item

13. Fish curry

Sea food lovers will not let you leave the table till you’ve had a good mouthful of fish curry. The flavours of fish curry may vary from place to place, but the Madras fish curry is acknowledged for being mouth watering. Anything fried is obviously more tempting, and the fried fish that is cooked with the right combination of chilli powder, salt and beaten egg is a must-eat-dish in Madras.

fish curry chennai famous food item

14. Chicken 65

This is one dish that is found everywhere. From local street stalls to reputed restaurants, chicken 65 is the hero of the appetizers. The ginger-garlic paste and chillies for the marinade imparts a distinct taste to this delicacy. It is Madras’s favourite starter. It’s a wonder how people do not tire of eating this dish over and over again.

chicken 65 chennai famous food item

15. Chicken/Onion Pakodas

If there is a chicken pakoda in sight, then all hell breaks lose. Deep fried, and boneless, it is a fast-selling snack.  Spicy and crispy onion pakodas is the vegetarian counterpart that is the perfect tidbit to munch on. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are countless varieties of pakodas. Cabbage pakoda, stuffed capsicum pakoda, egg bread pakoda, the list is endless.

onion pakodas chennai famous food item



16. Kothu Parotta

We may have different opinions at times but when it comes to kothu parotta, our voices are united; We Love it. Parotta is minced by pounding it and later mixing it with vegetables, eggs or chicken. The spicy sauce perfects the flavours of this dish. Both vegetarians and meat lovers relish it.

kothu parotta chennai famous food item

17. Paneer Soda

Paneer Soda is one such drink from Madras that can get us addicted. The rose essence departs a sweetness to the drink and gives a characteristic tang to the soda. The best part is that we can easily make this refreshing drink at home.

paneer soda - chennai famous food item

18. Rose milk

Everyone adores this sweet nectar that is sold in street shops. Rose milk is a blessing for our throats, especially in a city like Chennai. It can be consumed as a creamy shake, as a thick yogurt or as a cold, delicious ice cream.

rosemilk - chennai famous food item