For many of us, Tamil food means a strict vegetarian fare- namely, Idli Dosa and Vada. but this time, when I went to travel extensively in Tamilnadu, a different world opened up to me. Now, I can proudly say, Tamils (except maybe the Tamil Brahmins) are serious meat-eaters. And in this blog post, I’ll try to share the various places, which have impressed me with their non-veg food – in Tamilnadu.
Few pointers… I’ll talk about only the Non-veg food in Tamilnadu in this blog post. For a detailed read, please check my other blogposts on the same, here. And one more thing I should admit. I’ve gone on this trip at least one month back. So, few dish names might be mistaken. Please check the attached videos for better understanding on the same.
Chennai is a beautiful place. More so, when you have friends to take you around. And below are a few places, where I was taken by friends during my short stay. And if you want to check more about Tamil cuisine, please check the below blog post link.
Erode Amman Mess
I was taken to Erode Amman Mess by my friend Sujoy and Ganesh. Now, this is more like a sophisticated local hotel in Chennai. The seating facility is pretty decent and the food is excellent. And as I was looking towards the non-veg food in Tamilnadu, we skipped the vegetarian items.
Please check the below video for more details. The location of Erode Amman Mess can be found here.
Thalappakatti biryani is one of the very very famous varieties of Tamil biryani. The rice used, is what makes it all the more different. Instead of long-grained rice, they use the short-grained Jeera Samba or Sareega Samba rice. It’s slightly sticky and aromatic. In 1975, Nagaswami Naidu opened a restaurant named Ananda Vilas and thus started the journey of this famous variety. Folklores say, Mr. Naidu used to wear a typical kind of turban named thalappa, and hence the name.
Thalappakatti biryani is usually served with Dalcha. And this thing is interesting. Chopped goat head is cooked with dal and a few other vegetables. The consistency is more towards the Kolkata-styled Haleem. though I liked the aromatic biryani without the same, still, you can try at least once.
The next variety of Biryani, that needs to be tried, is the Kongu Biryani- at a place named Junior Kuppanna. Now, I have slight confusion about Kongu biryani. As per my knowledge, Kongu biryani is from the Coimbatore region and is less spiced. But what I was served at this place, is spicier than the Thalapakatti biryani. I am not complaining. The food is brilliant and this place is in operation for the last 50-60 years. Please check the location on Google map, here.
Breakfast at Hotel Topsee
Hotel Topsee is known for its royal breakfast. And like a good friend, Ganesh and Sujoy again took me there. The setup is simple, but what is spectacular, is their egg appam. I’ve had Appam at many places- but few are remembered. And this was one such place. We ordered Mutton chops, Mutton pepper fry, and Egg Appam. And trust me, it’s a meal for the champions. Please check the location on Google map, here.
Mahabalipuram is around 1.5 hours drive from Chennai along the beautiful ECR. And it looks like Goa. We checked in Seashore Garden, Mahabalipuram. Seashore shacks, serving chilled beer and seafood grilled of your choice. It’s pure heaven. The shacks are mostly similar. You get in and grab a window table and order for Beer and squid/ fresh catch of the day.
Out night stay was scheduled at Kumbakonam. It’s a quaint waterside village and the primary attraction there is the Mantra Koodam property, run by CGH group. It’s a luxury resort, with all the facilities that one can think of. Good nice rooms and great service. The restaurant serves Cholenadu cuisine (pure non-veg), which is slightly different from other cuisines. As I said, most of the Tamil-speaking people are serious non-vegetarians and we had everything from squid to mutton to Chicken here.
Sirumalai is 25 km from Dindigul and for a foodie, the very name of Dindigul features just one thing- Dindigul biryani. It’s a biryani cooked with small pieces of meat and the fragrant short-grained Jeera Sambar rice. The famous spot for the same, in Dindigul, is, Venu Biryani… And we were taken there.
Venu Biryani is super crowded- always. And once you grab your seat, you’re asked one simple thing- mutton or chicken. And the very false notion that Tamilnadu means veg food, is shattered there. The cuisine at Enchanting Tamilnadu is much much beyond the usual fare of Idli Dosa. These guys are serious meat eaters- from Gurda to spleen to brain, they have it all. Even a rustic version of the famous Shunti Kebab is there. Please remember, Shunti Kebab is supposedly the oldest kebab, to have originated in India.
The biryani is served in an interesting way- in an enamel bowl. and they serve in two sizes- half and full. One full is decent for a hungry soul and you may think of having another half portion. A full portion has 4 small pieces and a half portion- two. Meat gravy is served complementarily with the biryani, but it’s better avoided. But honestly, the taste is average. Now, I don’t know whether it was a bad day or not, the taste was pretty average. I mean, I’ve tasted better stuff at the Jr Kuppanna at Chennai. Being close to Madurai, the Jigarthaanda was good. For the new ones, it’s a heavy drink made with kheer, falooda, and hand-churned ice cream.
Though there is a pretty decent restaurant serving pretty good food, I planned to venture outside for dinner. A brief search got me a place named Imran Biryani center. And it was not wrong. In fact, there are two shops and I went for the quieter and nearer New Imran Biryani. The pepper chicken fry was good at 100/- and is good for one person. The parotta was fantastic. In fact, this is something, which I’ve noticed in Tamilnadu. They’re less oily and super flaky. The crispiness is not their USP and the good news for us Bengalis is that they’re made out of white flour- good stuff and definitely recommended. This is the good part of the enchanting Tamilnadu campaign- experiencing diversity.
For a foodie, the primary interest for Courtallam is probably not those gorgeous waterfalls- but rather a Dhaba named Border Parotta. Courtallam is situated on the border of Kerala and Tamilnadu and around 50+ years back, one gentleman saw the business opportunity. The target was the local truck drivers and the menu was simple- Parotta and meat- rather than country chicken. In fact, to date, there are not many menu items there. the ambiance is electrifying and it’s a place for mass. Items tested by us were, Parotta, shredded pepper chicken, Chicken fry, and Egg sunny side up… Unlimited refill of chicken gravy is poured and it’s sheer madness- in the happy sense.
Do check the video below
It’s almost the end of the trip and finally, we reached the dream for any food lover in India- Chettinad. Now, we were put up in an interesting place in Chettinad- The Bangala Chettinad. And honestly, I am slightly confused here. should I call it a luxury homestay, or a leisure resort? It’s managed brilliantly like a resort, but George, who takes care of the property, treats it like home. It’s a heritage hotel, built on a century-year-old property. The award-winning restaurant is supposed to be the ultimate place for Chettinad cuisine and has secured its place in the Best restaurant category many times. As a layman, by Chettinad food, we understand super spicy food- but actually, it’s not so. It’s a proper balance and mix of spices. Of course, black pepper and whole red chilly play an important part- but there’s much to it.
Priya Mess, Kadaikudi
But, at Chettinad, the primary point of interest was Priya Mess, Kadaikudi. It has AC and non-AC sections… and the non-veg offerings are quite commendable. Priya Mess, Kadaikudi is just like our Pice hotel in Bengal. It’s community eating. and from chicken and mutton to mutton heads, blood curry and varieties of fish are available here. If someone goes to Chettinad, Priya Mess is definitely recommended.
Though Chennai is the state capital, Madurai is known to be the foodie’s paradise in Tamilnadu. And I had my friend Mukundan take me around for dinner and breakfast. Now, they run a food group named and are champions for conducting food tours.
first things first… food in one city can not be covered in a few meals- period. And however hard Mukundan tried, it was impossible for me. We went for dinner and considering the COVID situation and night curfew, it’s quite a late one. There is a mess culture in Madurai. and as I told you before, the mess is a kind of local regular eating place. So, we went to this place called Amma mess in Madurai, which I understand, is quite popular among locals. Please check the location of the place here.
So, the main attraction was Mutton Dosa and a crab omelet. And these items were new for me. For Mutton Dosa, pulled mutton was stuffed inside a thick dosa and an egg was placed on top and cooked. The result is a heavy, yet beautiful dish. Let me remind you, it’s quite heavy and is good as dinner for one hungry soul. The crab omelet had crab meat beaten with egg and fried- damn good, I must say. Parotta is always superior in Tamilnadu and this place is no exception. The quail curry was pretty decent. The place is not a cheap one- but not very expensive though. Definitely recommended for non veg food in Tamilnadu
Amsavalli Bhavan is a non-veg AC restaurant famous for Chettinad-styled Biryani. It was founded in 1952 and till date, doesn’t have a branch. Please check the location on Google Maps here. t’s one of those old school restaurants, which doesn’t care about any infrastructure, or service- apart from good food and fast service. The ground floor is non-AC with an AC-ed first floor. During breakfast, only the ground floor was operational…
We took the Mutton onion curry and liver- with some Parotta to go with (obviously…). the dishes are simple, light, and tasty- served piping hot. The gravy is watery, making it lighter on the stomach. The cut of the mutton here is slightly different. Each piece contains some amount of fat. Honestly, here, we are used to having raw pork cut like this. So, this was a new thing for me. The idea was to tear the parotta and mix it with the gravy, but being one from the Eastern part of India, I tried as it is. Let me confirm, the food is damn good and a definite must-try. I’ll have to go back to taste their famed biryani though. One thing is for sure… Non veg food in Tamilnadu needs exploration.
Non-veg food in Tamilnadu is very very popular. And on this trip, it’s impossible for me to check everything. Hence, this post will be updated in the future. Meanwhile, if you find something interesting, do share it in the comments.
I can be reached at email@example.com