Street Foods of Chennai: An Unparalleled Experience

Street Foods of Chennai: An Unparalleled Experience

You will see most of these restaurants, buzzing at all points in time during the day. The food is inexpensive but extremely delicious and fresh. But the rules of what constitutes the three meals are more or less similar. Unsurprisingly, Idlis, Dosas, and Pongal dominate the breakfast menu. Lunchtime is usually reserved for “full meals” – usually a generous spread of veggies, sambhar, rasam, papad, and rice  – all unlimited, unless you order “limited meals” which means you don’t get a second serving. Dinner is usually reserved for “tiffin” items.        So the dinner menu consists of Parotha, Uthapams, other dosa varieties. Rice dishes are also served during dinner time but they are not the most popular, or sought-after during dinners.

The best of snacks in Chennai

My most delicious memories of Chennai street food is not the breakfast, lunch or dinner time but in the treat during tween-times – that time between lunch and dinner, when its been long enough after lunch, but not dinner time yet.  Unsurprisingly, you are spoilt for choice for options in the food streets of Chennai. Here are some delicious options:
Masala Dal Vada

Masala Vada ­

Known as Masala Vada, these are mixed lentils vada, made with finely chopped onions, ginger, and red chilies. Usually, these vadas are served with coconut and / or onion chutney. The aroma of the fried dal vadas is unmistakable in the evenings. Crispy on the outside, with a soft interior mixed with crispy onions providing the delicious surprise off and on.

Medu Vada 

The more famous cousin of Masala Vada is still the crowd puller. Crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside, served hot – with coconut chutney, and sometimes Sambhar. Interestingly, there are many variants of these as well.

Dahi Vada or Thayir Vadai

Dipped in curd, It becomes Dahi Vada or Thayir Vadai. However, this is different from Dahi Bhalla in the North. 

Sambhar Vada

When served in a pool of Sambhar, it becomes Sambhar Vada. Undoubtedly, enjoying Sambhar-soaked Vada on a hungry evening is a mouth-watering prospect, always.

Rasam Vadai or Rasa Vadai

This is yet another variant. This variant is not usually available on the streets, but in restaurants, it is readily available. Like Sambhar Vada, tucking into a Rasam-soaked Vada, that has absorbed all the flavors of Rasam, is an unforgettable experience.

Aloo Bonda

There are very good chances that you might run into this – my other favorite. Aloo Bonda, masala potato-filled inside and a crisp, gram flour (besan) coating on the outside. Usually, these bondas are served with coconut chutney, and sometimes even with the Green Coriander Chutney.

Onion Bakkoda

This has to be on anyone’s all-time favorite snacks list – the Onion Bakkoda (Pakoras pronounced this way in Chennai). Crispy onion fried in the cloak of chickpea flour, with green chilies. Whenever you have it, have it hot. There is no bigger bliss than crispy onion bakkodas on any occasion.

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