Pondicherry’s Culinary Commands Multiple Visits To The Town
Image Credit: Vegetarian Food At Junior Kuppanna

On the southeastern coast of India lies an architectural marvel of a city called the Union territory of Puducherry. Puducherry had been a French colony for more than 200 years (Cumulatively) of its history before gaining independence in 1962. Britishers too colonised the coastal town and named it Pondicherry, the official name of the union territory until 2006, when the name was changed to its original form, Puducherry—owing to foreign influences, majorly French. Puducherry, although having a long pre-colonial history where dynasties like Pandavas, Cholas, Pallavas, the Vijayanagar empire, and the Sultanate of Bijapur, having ruled the region, carry a quintessential French flavour. A short stroll at the promenade, or the colourful streets of the Heritage White Town (Where the French lived), will give you enough understanding that this town is unlike any other in the Indian Subcontinent.

 The experience of the variety of food offered in Pondicherry starts in the morning itself. On the one hand, the flavour and aroma of South Indian tiffins, like dosas, idlis and appams, begin to flow in the streets as early as sunrise; the coffee, the croissants, and the baguettes get ready for breakfast too. All the lovely boutique hotels with unmissable Franco-Tamil architecture set breakfast buffets in the heritage verandas, where crepes and dosas would be served side by side.  

 You will love Puducherry's multicultural fabric as a tourist, especially a food lover. Surguru, one of the finest South Indian breakfast places in Pondicherry, is a must-visit, especially for a delicious breakfast of Dosa and Coffee. For a more exquisite affair with a heritage vibe, Villa Shanti or Hotel Le Dupleix would ably transport you to an era gone by. For the natural flavour of French patisseries, Pondicherry is an ideal place for exploration; visit Baker Street on Bussy street, and indulge in delicious croissants, coffees and more, or visit ‘Crepe–in–Touch’ for a healthy and delicious French breakfast of savoury crepes, coffee, and cakes. The diverse flavour profile of Pondicherry is evident as you explore the streets and get tempted to try hot filter coffee with a triangular samosa, a city staple for those wanting to enjoy local flavour on a budget. If and when the heat takes its toll, a chilled ‘Nannari’ (Sarsaparilla) sherbet will come to your rescue, or if the sweet tooth is demanding, visit Zuka on mission street. Zuka, the chocolate place, is alone, worthy enough to visit Pondicherry for, especially if you are a chocolate lover (Who isn’t?). The quality of cakes and other baked products is outstanding, and their exemplary work with their chocolates has made Zuka the iconic dessert heaven in the heritage town of Pondicherry.

 For Lunch, I had a delicious meal at Hotel Junior Kuppana, a famous restaurant in South India serving the regional Kongu cuisine. ‘Biryani’, ‘Palipalayams’, ‘Kongunadu curry’, Chicken or ‘Gobi 65’, vegetarian meal/thali, or the ’Parottas’, the variety and taste of food at this regional speciality restaurant is exemplary. Another regional speciality restaurant one must try on a visit to Pondicherry is Hotel Sri Kamatchi, where one can enjoy the delicious non-vegetarian south Indian fare, with ‘Biryanis’ ‘, Parottas’ or ‘dosas’ to accompany.

 Evenings are the most exciting time to be in Pondicherry. Its various cafes and restaurants get lit up and beaming with energy. The aromas of fantastic seafood, delectable pizzas, and flavourful international and regional cuisines fill the city's streets. Pondicherry is also a reasonably priced watering hole. Alcohol is cheap in the stores; therefore, even in Pondicherry's many classy restaurants and bars, cocktails rule the roost. Live music gets played throughout the week, giving the seekers of good times a reason to visit Pondicherry again and again.

 Café Xtasy would be a top recommendation for Pizzas in Pondicherry. They are known for their wood-fired pizzas, which live up to the hype around them. When driving to Auroville (A harmonious town 10 km away from Pondicherry), visit Tanto Pizzeria to begin your exploration in Auroville. Mango Hill, A beautiful resort in Auroville, has a classy restaurant serving delectable offerings from French and Indian cuisine, a good place for a lazy brunch, enjoying the lovely Auroville weather and peaceful vibes. Coffee lovers must not look further than visiting Mark’s Café. Believing in the philosophy of Crop-to-cup, Marc’s is a café and a roastery built into one. The freshest aromatic coffees, be it a hot shot of espresso, a milky, frothy cappuccino, or a chilled cold brew, the high-quality beans, their processing, and the art of coffee making in itself will leave any coffee lover enthralled. The vibe of this quaint café, and your love for coffee, will make it hard for you to go anywhere else but to sit and enjoy the cuppa with their delicious chocolate brownie to accompany.

 Auroville and Pondicherry have many great places for food and beverages representing various international cuisines. French, Continental, Asian, or Indian cuisines are well-represented and deliver fantastic taste. The peaceful vibe and immaculate French architecture give the whole heritage town distinctive décor. To be around the city, dining at various culinary marvels is an experience every food lover yearns for. Thus, it's not surprising that I am already planning a third extended stay in Pondicherry, which would be around Christmas this time. A perfect time to visit Pondy! When are you planning to visit?

Sidharth Bhan Gupta, Founder of 361 Degrees Hospitality, is a Hospitality / Food and Beverage / Restaurant Consultant.