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The buzz around not-so-local khana



Want to eat your heart out in the city? Here is a listicle of places that are known for not selling the typically famous Madurai food but for the culinary zeal of the people behind them contributing to the city’s evolving food scene

Eating is a serious business in temple town Madurai, also often referred to as the food capital of Tamil Nadu. The city’s food scene has always flourished with purely local fare and brought people together from all over. Over the years, brands opened their doors here.

While eating out as a local or a tourist, the food lover in you gets easily torn by Madurai’s super soft idlis or the layered parottas, the hardcore non-vegetarian spicy dishes and the biryanis and the traditional South Indian vegetarian thali.

Well, we know it is important to eat local when you travel as it helps to enrich your cultural experience. But often tourists and migrants also search for food-not-so-local in a city that is not theirs. Till about the last decade Madurai did not have many options even though multiple restaurants offered ‘multi-cuisine’ menus. But those were far from authentic. Most of them only borrowed the North Indian and Chinese names of the dishes and the recipes left much to be desired.

But today you find so much more to explore in the city if you want to skip the regular idli-sambar, dosa-chicken gravy, mutton biryani or the kothu parotta.

Italian-American@Phil’s Bistro, Anna Nagar

Six years ago, it introduced many intriguing dishes to the food worshippers who live in the city or came visiting. Those who want to experience and experiment something different and foreigners in particular love it as nowhere else in the city you get the braised lamb shank or the couscous crusted fish steak, ratatouille lasagne, mushroom risotto or the delicious summer vegetables and pasta tossed in pesto. The best part is the owner-cum-executive chef of the 48-seater has maintained his style, signature, size and standard. A hearty meal for two comes within Rs.1,200.

Sri Lankan cuisine@Appams & Hoppers, K.K.Nagar

Not even a year old, the tiny 20-seater continues to be the talk of the town with an even tinier menu. From spongy and wafer thin haute versions of appams and string hoppers to go with Sri Lankan curries of choice from fish/chicken/mutton or meal maker and kadala curry, sodhi (coconut milk with a dash of spices) and pol sambol (the finely pounded coconut, dry chilli, small onions and mixed with lime juice) along with seni sambol set your taste buds aflame with desire. Within Rs.600, a couple can enjoy a super rich tasty dinner here.

Arabian cuisine@Zaitoon

Maduraiites celebrated Zaitoon when it entered the city two years ago with a flush of Arabian delights. And they continue to do so with around 350 items that are an eclectic mix of falafel, shawarmas and sizzlers, charcoal barbequed, tandoori and grilled dajaj (chicken), Laham (mutton), Rubian (prawn) and samak (fish) recipes, salads, soups, different types of kuboos (bread) and hummus. You are spoilt for choice here given the variety and portions served. With an intelligent mix and match, a family of four can feast within Rs.2,500

Burmese@roadside shacks, Burma Colony and LDC Road

For those who pine for the various avatars of Attho (essentially noodles salad) either with a twist of tamarind and chilli or with lemon when it becomes Mohinga or with soya sauce it gets the name Sejo, Bejo (crispy thattai-like snack), Kause, or the egg masala and the banana stem soup seasoned with garlic-ginger, cumin, coriander and pepper, the streetside eateries fill-in for recipes from Myanmar. Notwithstanding the hygiene of the open eateries, the daredevil foodies have welcomed it for the taste and price.

Regional cuisine

Rajasthani/Gujarati meals@Sree Mohan Bhojanalay, Dhanappa Mudali Street; Sankhwala on Jadamuni Koil Street;

North Indian@Punjabi Dhaba, K.K.Nagar

Jain meals@Annapoorna Mithai, Bypass Road

For the variety of naans, rotis and stuffed kuchas with the tastiest tandoori chicken, chicken do pyaza or special paneer matar masala, creamy malai kofta and tiranga paneer and lassi, the go-to place is Punjabi dhaba. Regulars are happy with the authentic Punjabi cuisine

For pure vegetarian and garlic/onion/egglesss items, the year old Annapoorna Mithai successfully caters to the exclusive North Indians, Jains, Brahmins because each of their thali meals are distinguishable. They restrict to each region’s items, flavours, ingredients and taste.

The Mohan Bhojanalay and Sankhwala are iconic eateries always packed with customers. Their success is in serving home-cooked food where you can actually gorge on unlimited without feeling the weight! Different types of rotis with a range of subzis, chutneys, achars and papad typical of the Western region come at nominal rates here – within Rs.150 per thaali.

Fast food

Burgers@Mad Fellas K K Nagar,

Pizzas@Dominos (K.K.Nagar and Bypass Road)

Fast food@ KFC (Bypass Road) and Marry Brown (K K Nagar, Vishal Mall)

For the traveling food lover, finding small-town culinary hot spots may not always be easy. And fast food often comes in handy if the brand is also a known one. And for the new generation junk food lovers, the entry of established chains meant no longer having to go to Bangalore or Chennai to eat a Dominos pizza of a KFC chicken burger.

But it is the quaint Mad Fellas that has turned burgers and sandwiches into wholesome meals, introduced freak shakes and innovative starters and people are simply loving it!

So, wrap-up a non-local feast, if you so wish!

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