Madurai was seen in the film Meenakshi Sundareshwar, which popularised certain food items from the temple town.
Tamil Nadu may be known for its idlis and dosas, but the city of Madurai has taken giant leaps when it comes to having its own cuisine. Madurai was seen in the film Meenakshi Sundareshwar, which popularised certain food items from the temple town. Drawing from the film and the cuisine of the region, we recommend five foods that you must try when you’re in Madurai:
A popular Madurai street food dish, bun parotta is essentially a cross between a bun and a parotta. It is similar to a Malabar parotta but fluffier, and is made by folding the parotta into the shape of a bun. A street vendor named Karupanna and his wife Vijayam claim to be the first people to have made bun parotta at their stall Madurai Bun Parotta Kada in 1991. Bun parotta is usually served with spicy curries.
Also known as kola urundai, mutton balls originated in Madurai. Made with minced meat and ground masala, these meatballs may be eaten as an appetiser or dipped in curries. If served without curry, they are eaten as a snack on their own and when dipped in curry, they are served with rice. The masala and the minced mutton are held together by powdered roasted gram dal. Most traditional messes in Madurai serve mutton balls.
In Hindi, ‘jigar’ means heart and ‘thanda’ means cold, so jigarthanda translates to ‘heart cold’. More of a drink than a dish, jigarthanda is a cold beverage that Madurai is known for. The hand-churned drink uses milk, almond jelly, tree gum, fruit syrups and ice cream. Most street vendors in Madurai prepare the drink. It is believed that jigarthanda was created to cool the hearts of the Muslims who settled in India.
While idli is omnipresent in South Indian cities, Madurai’s is iconic. The restaurant chain Murugan Idli Shop was founded in Madurai and now has outlets as far as Singapore and the UK. Murugan Idli Shop was established as a place meant for vegetarian South Indian food. Served with sambar and chutneys, their soft and fluffy idlis are well known and can give other idlis serious competition.
A dosa with three layers, kari dosa consists of a dosa base that’s topped with an omelette, which in turn is topped with minced, spiced mutton. The minced mutton is cooked with onions, garlic, ginger and curry leaves, which give it a rich flavour. Most places in Madurai serve kari dosa but Simmakkal Konar Kadai is the most iconic among these. Simmakkal Konar Kadai uses a recipe that has been passed down through generations.