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Food Lover's Guide to Chennai

Food Lover's Guide to Chennai

The cuisine of Tamil Nadu is divided into four regional variations, and visitors to Chennai, the capital city of the Indian state, get to experience them all. Here’s what you need to know about the best dishes to eat and top food experiences in Chennai.

Must-Try Dishes

Chennai is fueled byfilter coffee, and no day of eating would be complete without a warm cup of brew. For breakfast, be sure to trymasala dosai, a savory crepe made from rice flower and filled with a spiced paste, along withidli, steamed rice cakes served with chutney for dipping. Travelers looking for a snack between meals can head to Marina Beach to samplesundal, boiled chickpeas tossed with spices and fresh coconut. 

One of Tamil’s most popular regional cuisines, both in and out of India, comes from the Chettinad region of the state. Considered one of the spiciest cuisines in a country known for fiery food, Chettinad dishes, including the popularbiryani(an Indian rice dish), are often heavily spiced. Those with big appetites shouldn’t miss a traditionalmeal on a banana leaf, a spread that often includes white rice, pickle, sambar, dal, spicy tamarind soup, and a variety of fried or sautéed vegetables.

Must-Do Experiences

  • Learn the art of South Indian cuisine during a cooking class with a professional chef or local family.

  • Savor the flavors of Chennai as you tour the city’s best street food vendors with a local guide.

  • Tour one of Asia’s biggest fruit and vegetable markets in Koyambedu and learn about the ingredients that go into Chennai’s distinctive cuisine.

  • Tuck into a traditional Iyengar Brahmin vegetarian meal prepared and served in the intimacy of a private home.

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