Street Foods of Chennai: An Unparalleled Experience

Street Foods of Chennai: An Unparalleled Experience
The street foods of Chennai is one of the many things that you should try at least once when you are in the city. You will be delighted to know that there is more to the Chennai foodscape than just Idli and Dosa. In India, one can never complain about the dearth of variety and culture. Similarly, there is a huge variety of food dishes served in different states. In this fast-growing nation of diverse traditions, India’s street food has developed in its variety and flavors. You might think that Chennai, formerly called Madras, is a city that famous for its traditional food – the Idlis and Dosas. However, once you are on the streets of Chennai, the diversity in food surpises you. Let me just say it goes beyond just Idlis and Dosas.

Street foods of Chennai: A Love Affair

As the line goes – you can talk a Chennaite out of Chennai, but never Chennai out of a Chennaite.  Even though I was a boy when I left the city, I have very fond memories of the city. My maternal uncle, my maternal aunts stayed there and so did my cousins. I remember all of us going to the beach, spending time till it became dark. We then went on to eat the raw green mango, spiced with red chili powder that is so much a trademark of Chennai beaches even today. “Maanga Batthai” (Raw Mango Chunks) is the name of this delicious treat. As a result, even today the memories of our beach excursions come to my mind when I have raw mango.
Manga Batthai – Raw Mango Chunks
I was born in Madras (the modern-day Chennai), but our family moved to Ahmedabad when I was in my fourth grade. Ahmedabad was our home for the next fifteen years until I completed college. Eventually, I shifted to Delhi for work.  The cuisine at our place is a delightful mix of traditional South Indian, a lot of Gujarati dishes, and a few North Indian dishes. Evidently, we grew up appreciating and savoring all the cuisine and instantly took a liking to the variety. However, Chennai has a special place in my heart for various reasons. However, in all these years after I left Chennai as a small boy, I had only intermittently visited the city. 

My Favourite Places to Explore Chennai Street Food

In 2010, I had to move to Chennai for a television project for a major television broadcaster for about eight months. I worked with a company that produced game shows for the broadcaster. Fortunately for me, my sister Lalitha and her family were in the city, and I could stay with them for the duration. So, this became an opportunity for me to get to really know the city I had always heard so much about. Though I had visited Chennai off and on earlier but never stayed for a long time. This time around, it was time to savor and explore the street food of Chennai.

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