The Street Food Of Tamil Nadu: 5 Dishes To Try
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While idli-sambar, vada and different types of dosa may be served at restaurants in Tamil Nadu, what the streets have to offer is another story. From kothu parotta and idiyappam to Burmese dishes, vendors in the state prepare a variety of street food. The Burmese influence on Tamil Nadu’s food culture is evident, with people selling dishes like atho and mohinga. These foods can be found at street stalls manned by expert cooks and surrounded by large crowds. If you’re in Tamil Nadu, we recommend some dishes that you can find at roadside stalls:

Kothu parotta

Flaky, tasty, and satisfying, parottas can be found at most street corners in Southern India. A more embellished version, the kothu parotta, is common in Tamil Nadu. In Tamil, ‘kothu’ translates to ‘shred’. Kothu parotta is made by tossing shredded parotta with spices, egg, meat or vegetables.  It is made by shredding parotta and pounding it with masala and gravy. The dish originated in Sri Lanka but has become popular in other parts of the world like Singapore and Malaysia as well. 


In Tamil, ‘idi’ means beat and ‘appam’ means pancake. Also called strong hopper, idiyappam is made up of long, stringy, noodle-like strands that are made with rice flour. The strands are woven into a flat disc and then steamed. Idiyappam is best enjoyed with spicy curries and is a well-known roadside snack in Tamil Nadu. In Kerala, idiyappam is served with coconut milk and sugar. Idiyappam may be eaten for breakfast with a vegetable stew or avial. The dish is also common in Malaysia and Singapore. 


Mohinga is a rice noodle and fish soup from Burma that is commonly found on the streets of Tamil Nadu. Some people even consider it the national dish of Burma. Mohinga also uses gram flour, toasted rice, ginger, garlic, onions and fish sauce. The ingredients are combined to make a broth, which is allowed to simmer. Then, fish and rice noodles or vermicelli are added, and the dish is garnished with lemon wedges, crispy onions, coriander, chillies and a boiled egg. 


Atho originated in Burma but is a common street snack in Tamil Nadu. To make atho, grated carrots, cabbage and fried onions are tossed along with generous helpings of garlic, oil, chilli powder, salt, masala and a dash of lime juice. Orange noodles are added to the mixture, followed by crispy bejo and coriander (bejo is a crispy snack made with rice flour and groundnuts). The dish was brought back to India by Tamilians who migrated to Burma and returned.

Burmese egg masala

To make Burmese egg masala, street vendors slit a hard boiled egg and stuff it with a mixture of chopped onion, crushed garlic, red chilli powder and salt. Lemon juice may also be added for flavour and the stuffed eggs are usually garnished with fresh coriander. Traditionally, a whole stuffed egg is supposed to be eaten in one go. The dish is also called egg bejo. Street vendors across Tamil Nadu make and sell the snack.