Highlights Thereâs a soft corner for Madurai in the hearts of most true-blue Tamils. This is one of the worldâs oldest inhabited cities with a colourful history that dates back over two millennia. At the of Maduraiâs rich history and traditions is the Tamil language. My connection with Madurai has always been with the cityâs rich . This is not a city where you have long drawn conversations over a meal and yet almost everyone you meet in the city has strong opinions about their food. carefully bequeathed from one generation to the next. where masalas are still hand ground and where factory-made masalas are frowned upon.
The city that never sleeps. Maduraiâs location in the heart of has always seen a steady flow of visitors who keep âfloatingâ through the city almost round the clock. The cityâs markets are a hub for local produce from all over Southern Tamil Nadu. Itâs been one of the biggest drivers for the cityâs food culture with a host of options. We pick 10 dishes you must try when you are in Madurai. Of course, there are no fine dining options:
1. Krai Dosai at Konar Mess
The Konars were originally cow and goat herds and therefore, offal dishes are a big part of their daily menu. The three-tier dosai at Konar is now a local legend. A thick , an and a layer of minced mutton. This is not a dosai you can take lightly! Order a repeat at your own risk and do wash it down with Bovonto, Maduraiâs very own soft drink thatâs become ultra-cool post the stateâs Jallikattu protests.
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2. Kola Urundai at Chandran Mess
The owner of this famous local establishment proudly took me around his squeaky-clean that is still supervised by his family. I watched the staff painstakingly grind down the mutton and transform them into melt-in-your-mouth mutton balls that are crispy on the outside. Donât leave town without sinking your into these pockets of joy.
3. Idli at Murugan Idli Shop
Murugan Idli is now a household name in Chennai and has blossomed into a restaurant chain. The Murugan story began in Madurai with a restaurant thatâs walking distance from the iconic Meenakshi Temple. Muruganâs are soft, sticky (a complete contrast from the grainier Udupi-style idlis) and served with an array of chutneys.
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4. âFull Mealsâ at Shriram Mess
Maduraiâs âmutton-heavyâ meals can be overwhelming even for hard-core fans. Shriram Mess is the perfect detox before you head home. This restaurant serves one of the finest meals on a leaf in the city.
5. Idiyappam at Burmah Idiyappa Kadai
âHole in the wallâ might not be an inaccurate description of this tiny eatery that serves just one dish. and visitors patiently wait for their turn opposite Mission hospital to sample idiappam (string hoppers) served with and. The simplest dishes are often the tastiest.
6. Kalkandu Sadham at Sri Nagalakshmi Annexe
The Madurai Saurashtrians moved here from Gujarat during the reign of the Nayaks. The community speak their own dialect and are a fascinating subculture in Maduraiâs rich tapestry. This community loves their âmixed riceâ dishes. Nagalakshmi Annexe is one the cityâs few surviving Saurashtra style restaurants and their kalkandu (sugar candy) is a must-try.
7. Paruthi Paal
Maduraiâs food scene truly comes alive just before the sun sets. Itâs about the same time you will find push carts hitting some of the cityâs streets with Paruthi Paal (translates to cotton milk). Cotton seed extracts are combined with a small quantity of cardamom, dry and sweetened with palm sugar. Tasty and full of goodness.
8. Meen Kuzhambu at Amma Mess:
You are never alone when you eat here. Itâs not just the never-ending sea of diners but also pictures of celebrities â mostly Tamil film stars (who have dined here), that stare at you from every corner. The highlights from this home-style menu are the fish gravies (try the Muthal Mariyathai Meen kuzhambu, that takes its name from a popular 1980âs Tamil film). If is not your scene, do sample their truly unique bone marrow omelette. >
9. Parotta at Sulthan restaurant:
Madurai loves its parottas and the cityâs parotta âartistesâ love the attention – the kothu (minced) parotta âmastersâ turn up the decibel levels to attract customers. Sulthanâs is quite popular for their but itâs their flaky, multi-layered parotta that is their biggest draw.
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10. Jigarthanda at Famous Jigarthanda
Thereâs one theory that the Nawabs of Arcot brought this sugary sweet dessert to Madurai. It doesn’t matter now; this is Maduraiâs most popular and possibly the cityâs answer to falooda. Hand churned ice cream, condensed milk with tree gum. The perfect antidote to all the spices and flavours of Maduraiâs meat dishes.
About the Author:
Ashwin Rajagopalan is a Chennai-based writer who writes on topics related to food, gadgets, trends and travel experiences. He enjoys communicating across cultures and borders in his weekday work avatar as a content and editorial consultant for a global major and one of India’s only cross cultural trainers.
The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of and does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.