Street foods are ready to eat foods that are either solid or liquid that are sold on the streets (obviously!). Street food is eaten by people for enjoyment or just to grab a quick snack. Be it this way or that, it is loved by citizens for it is rich in spices and is absolutely mouth watering.
Idli And Sambar
Considered as the signature dishes of Tamil Nadu, Idli and Sambar is a match made in heaven. Idlis are nothing but a type of rice batter that is steamed in unique moulds which gives them their shape. They are the best dieting food as they contain no fat (unbelievable right?). Idlis are popular breakfast of the Tamilians and they can be seen having them on the streets before they go to work or at night.
Sambar is lentil based stew that is made of a special mixture of spices and vegetable. Sambar is the most favorite broth of the Tamilians and they have it with absolutely everything (believe, I even have white bread with Sambar and it is delicious. You should definitely try it!). Idli and Sambar is the most famous food of the South Indian cuisine. This dish represents the South Indian Cuisine itself. The taste of Sambar is best on the streets.
Parotta is layered flat bread that is made from Maida. It has its roots from the North Indian- Paratha. The Maida dough is stretched, rolled and finally flattened to make this delectable dish. Parotta is so famous that a Parotta stall can be seen after every other building. Parotta is mostly had with a type of Kurma which differs in every region. In some regions it is had with egg curry and in other, there is a special curry called the – Chalna to go with it. This curry is made using chicken or mutton. Parottas are had by Tamilians for every other occasion and once you try them, you’ll know why.
Kalaki is a type of South Indian omelet that is mostly served in Parotta stalls. This Omelet recipe is so similar to the regular one and yet so different that you will want for more. This omelet is made using whole egg and onions that are left to cook on the flame for about minute before they are taken out, so that they are only half done. This is a dish for all the egg lovers who like to eat eggs no matter the occasion. Have it after your Parotta for a fulfilling experience.
Known as the brother of Idlis, Dosas are another favorite of the Tamilians. Made from the same batter from which the idlis are made, Dosas are prepared by spreading the batter on a Tava and cooking it. Muttai Dosai literally means- Egg dosai. An egg is broken open on top of the dosai when it is cooking and later garnished with onions or pepper. Muttai Dosai is absolutely yummy.
One of the favorite street foods of the Tamilians are the Vadas. There are different types of Vadas. Some are sweet while some are salty and spicy. But the most well-liked and flavorsome of all the vadas is the Ulundu Vada. Ulundu is the Tamil name of a type of lentil-Urad. This Vada is characteristically extraordinary because it has a hole in the middle (no one knows why.). All the vadas are either had with Sambar or Coconut chutney or both. Vadas are the most popular snack which is eaten with tea or coffee.
Chicken fry may be considered the most preferred fast food by all, but it is emerging as the most popular street food across Tamil Nadu. A lot of stalls that are put up these days are those of Chicken. People are becoming more inclined towards eating non-veg and the results are these stalls. Mostly these are what they call- Chicken 65 stalls that are becoming exceptionally popular. Have these succulent chicken pieces sold on the streets; you would surely forget the KFC bucket.
Chana Sundal is a South Indian stir fry dish made with white chickpeas. Sundal is habitually had by people on the beach and they can be seen with newspaper cones filled with Sundal in them. Sundal is made by boiling these Chickpeas and later giving it a tadka and finally garnishing it with coconut. There are some spicy varieties of the dish as well but the traditional way is always better. The smell of Sundal is evidently the best.
Biryani is the all-time favorite of all the Indians. Be it the Muslim Biryani, the Hyderabadi Biryani or the South Indian Biryani, people never seem to get enough of it. The taste of the best South Indian Biryani is on the streets. After 7:00 pm, a lot of Biryani stalls are put up and most of them serve Chicken Biryani. If you feel you are too late to eat at a restaurant, you can always eat at these Biryani stalls and trust me the taste of the Biryani served by them is much better than those of the hotels.
Murukku is a savory, crunchy South Indian snack that has its origin in Tamil Nadu. The Name Murukku is the Tamil name for the word ‘twisted’. It is usually prepared during Diwali, but now-a-days, people have it as snacks. Murukku is typically made of rice flour and Urad dal powder which is kneaded into dough and then twisted and fried. It’s super crunchy and can be eaten with your evening tea or coffee.
Jigarthanda is a cold drink originated from the city of Madurai. ’Jigar’ means ‘heart’ and ‘thanda’ means ‘cool’. So, it literally means that it cools your heart. It predominantly consists of milk, almond gum, sarsaparilla syrup (known as Nannari in Tamil) and sugar. This drink is usually sold on the streets during the hot months of May and June. Grab a glass, as this drink will surely leave all the other cold beverages behind and is healthy.
Whether fried, boiled or roasted this nut has captured the hearts of all the Tamilians. Groundnuts form a very important part of the lives of the people in Tamil Nadu. Nothing beats these nuts for them. Roasted Groundnuts are the most accepted form which is sold on the streets, on the beaches and now-a-days also in packets. Another product of this nut is Chikki, which is a type of sweet made by groundnut and jaggery.
Kuzhi Paniyaram or Paniyaram is a dish which is made by pouring batter into moulds. It can be either sweet or savory depending upon the ingredient used. If jaggery is used then it is saccharine and if spices are used it is savory. Paniyaram is an old recipe of southern India. It is a common sight in Tamil Nadu to see a Grandmother sitting on the roadside making this. And they sell them real cheap.
Bhajji is a well-liked street food and can be seen hanging on the street-side stalls. It is made by dipping vegetables in a batter of gram flour and some spices. The most accepted in Tamil Nadu is the Mirchi Bhajji and the raw banana Bhajji. They are mostly sold during the monsoon season and are really crispy.
Moringa is dish consisting of rice noodle and fish soup from the country of Myanmar and is considered to be the National Food of Myanmar. But this is proving to a popular street food on the streets of Chennai. There are a lot of varieties of this dish; this dish is definitely worth a try.
Though Masala Puri is actually a North Indian dish, this recipe is much popular on the streets of Tamil Nadu. This dish is made of a mixture of boiled chickpeas, sev, tomatoes, onions and puri. people consider it the ideal snack. Looks deliciously, doesn’t it?
Another North Indian dish that is well-liked on the streets of Tamil Nadu is Pani Puri. It has all the elements that a dish should have- sweet, sour, spicy and of course the most important, mouth-watering. It’s a personal favorite.
Mostly considered as a breakfast item, this is a simple yet elegant dish. It has two parts- Idiyappam and the Coconut Milk. The Idiyappam is made of solely rice flour, which is kneaded and then passed through a device which makes it into thin strands. It is later steamed and served with sweet coconut milk or curry depending upon preference of the person. It is a heartwarming dish.
Bonda is in fact a dish filled with potato and later dipped in a gram filling and deep fried. There are various versions of it across states. In Tamil Nadu it is the spicy version that is quite popular. It is usually paired up with Coconut Chutney.
Thattai And Seedai
Thattai and Seedai are both made of the same ingredients. It is only the shape that differs. Thattai is flat and round while Seedai is rolled into a ball. There are sweet versions of Seedai where sugar is used to sweeten the mixture. They are well-liked among travelers.
Last but not the least is the Kaalan or Mushroom masala, which is slowly becoming a favorite street among people. The main ingredient is mushroom that is mixed with various other spices to get it a really delectable taste. Pani Puri stalls usually sell this dish but it is not as popular as the former. A must have for Mushroom lovers.
This is the end of the top 20 street foods. There are various other delectable dishes in Tamil Nadu but I have listed out the ones I consider the best. Be it whatever, the South Indian cuisine cannot be outshined by any other.