Chennai Margazhi Festival Sabha Canteen Trail

By Devi Poojari

Crisp vadas with filter coffee or a grand yelai sappadu are the secrets behind Carnatic music connoisseurs to make a beeline for auditoriums all across the city, in the auspicious month of Margazhi. If the wafting aroma of sambar isn’t good enough to captivate your attention while hopping from one musical performance to another, these canteens are sure you capture your attention.

*Some restaurants listed in this trail serve non-vegetarian food, but have been added because they have good vegetarian options on their menu as well.

  • Patappa Caterers at Music Academy

    What drives the sabha canteen pulse in Chennai during Margazhi season are the many caterers who are commissioned to serve some competitively delicious meals to just about anyone who wants some. Although most canteen menus change on a day to day basis, Patappa caterers’ food is said to be some of the top notch amongst the many that provide their services during this time.

  • Vani Mahal

    If spoilt for choice was a statement, then the catering at Vani Mahal is sure to leave one starry-eyed. Yelai sappadu – traditional South Indian lunches ofvatthalkuzhambu, sambar, poriyal and even the odd paneer butter masala make it to the lunch menu which changes on an everyday basis. If you’re lucky, be sure to get your fill of their ghee-laden Asoka halwa, uttapam and variety rice.
  • Narada Gana Sabha

    One of the trademark dishes offered by the caterers in circulation in this performance space is the variety of payasams – chana dal and jaggery, tender coconut, tapioca pearls and the iconic rice payasam – are some of the delicious sweets you can indulge in. Make it a point to visit them during tea time to enjoy idlis smothered in podi, kuzhi paniyarams and a strong cup of filter coffee.

  • Mylapore Fine Arts Club

    For early morning music-goers, the Mylapore Fine Arts Club is ready to receive hungry visitors with fresh mallipoo idlis, dosas with many different fillings and sides or hot, puffy puris to eat with a runny potato curry. Evenings are mostly what Chennaites refer to as the ‘North Indian’ menu – that constitutes mini aloo parathas, chapati and butter paneer masala, dum aloo or dal makhana, for diners to enjoy the best of all worlds!
  • Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha

    To get a taste of sumptuous Tam-Brahm vegetarian food, make a headway for the canteen set up at this sabha. Enjoy a meal of paruppu usili, rasam, pachadi, mor kuzhambu – all with steaming hot rice and ghee. If you’re one of the few fortunate ones to go on an evening when the caterers are frying up some panang kizhangu vadais, ensure to eat as many as you can, between sips of filter coffee.

  • Krishna Gana Sabha

    From fluffy and tangy morkali for snacking, to crisp filter dosas that you can wash down with coffee, the canteen at this sabha also has a wedding-style banana leaf meal which is as grand as it gets. Featuring different dishes from each of the southern states in the daily-changing menu, grab a bite of delicacies from Thajavur, Kumbakonam and Tirunelveli for a full regional immersive experience.
  • Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha

    Evening snacking couldn’t get more colourful with the number of snack options available at the canteen of this Carnatic music venue. From bowls of decadent carrot halwa to idiyappams sprinkled with coconut to be enjoyed alongside spicy kurma or vazhaipoo vadais that are crisy and soft, choose to enjoy small portions of many snacks, besides the usual lunch or dinner feasts.

  • Sastha Caterers

    One of the largest catering contractors for the Margazhi season over three decades, canteens set up by Sastha come up with some of the most creative and delicious ideas. Think guava jangiri, pineapple bajji and payasam on the snack menu; while the lunch menu is basically everything you can imagine – from mixed fruit pachadi, thogayal, methi puri and coconut rice. So much so, you’d wish you had a second stomach to digest all of it!
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