South Indian food has pleased palates of many foodies around the globe for decades. Tamil Nadu’s ever-popular idlis and dosas have crossed borders and made it to our stomachs and hearts over and over again. While each city in the state brings a diverse and delectable range of dishes to the table, we have attempted the impossible of focussing on one region of the state, Madurai, and what makes this temple town stand out amongst the crowd of delicacy filled cities in the region. We go beyond the staples and bring to you a range of lip-smacking dishes that are authentic to the culinary capital of South India, that you simply must try. By Amitha Ameen

 

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Madurai is an important cultural hub of Tamil Nadu and is popularly known as the food capital of the state. Food from Madurai is a potpourri of influences drawn from its yesteryear trading partners like ancient Rome, Saurashtra and Sri Lanka. We have rounded up five lip-smacking dishes you don’t want to miss out on when paying a visit to this city that never sleeps.

Best dishes to eat in Madurai –

1. Kari Dosa

 

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Mutton lovers listen up! Madurai’s famed Kari Dosa or Mutton Kari Dosa will make you fall in love with it the minute you have that first bite. Finely minced meat, caramelised onions, curry leaves, and ginger-garlic paste — all sautéed together — will serve as one of the toppings on your three-layered rice pancakes a.k.a dosa, which includes an omelette at the base. Although the Kari Dosa is available in pretty much every outlet in Madurai, you must head to Konar Mess, an iconic eatery originally kickstarted by a community that specialised in cattle cultivation and lived in forest areas. The traditional recipe of this dish has been passed on to many generations and it resulted in the iconic eatery that it is today.

Where to eat: Simmakkal Konar Kadai, Madurai

2. Idli

 

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Spongy steamed and round cakes served with many varieties of chutneys and delicious sambhar — idlis can be found in every nook and cranny of this country, but nothing can beat the idli that you get to indulge in Madurai. Whether you are in Singapore, Malaysia, or in India, you are bound to come across a Murugan Idli Shop serving their trademark soft idlis. Founded more than two decades ago, the brand has a loyal customer base thanks to its authenticity and delectable dishes.

Where to eat: Murugan Idly Shop, Madurai

3. Mutton Balls

 

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Mutton balls or Kola Urundai as it is popularly known as is a wonderful dish that originated from Madurai. A melt-in-your-mouth minced mutton fried ball, this delicacy can be savoured solo or with rice. Don’t think twice and head straight to Chandran Mess, a quintessential Madurai mess that serves full meals along with this masala filled delicacy.

Where to eat: Chandran Mess or Kumar Mess

4. Bun Parotta

 

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Parottas are one of the most iconic roadside special dishes that have made their humble way to the menus of many five-star restaurants in the country. A cross between a bun and a parotta, and you have the Madurai famous bun parotta. While the history of this dish is up for debate, it is agreed that it came into being somewhere in the 90s. Crispy and soft at the same time, it is best served with any meat-based curry. Again, there are many outlets that serve this yummy dish, but we would suggest you head to Madurai Bun Parotta Kadai.

Where to eat: Madurai Bun Parotta Kadai, Aavin Signal

5. Jigarthanda

 

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Walk through any lane in Madurai and you will find a street vendor selling the famed Jigarthanda, a popular cool drink. Made with milk, fruit syrups, almond jelly, and tree gum, it is hand-churned and resembles the famous North Indian Lassi. It is widely believed to have been brought to the city by the Nawabs of Arcot during the Madurai sultanate regime.

Where to eat: Famous Jigarthanda, Anna Nagar, Madurai

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