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Chennai food, belonging to the cuisine of Tamil Nadu, India, includes a plethora of South Indian flavors, and vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian food stuffs. Chennai is an Indian state that is famous for its hospitality and food serving traditions.

Though the western and modern influences are highly prevailing in the city, most of the Chennai restaurants are still following the customary tradition of serving food on banana leaves. Food serving in Chennai is considered a social service and a great deed towards mankind.

Historical Influences on Chennai Cuisine

Chennai is a city with strong cultural and historical influences that played a vital role in shaping the Chennai food. The city was initially small fishing village that has become popular after the arrival of Portuguese. Apart from the Portugal influences on the cuisine, the Cholas, Pandyas and Vijayanagar empires had also contributed a lot to the food of Chennai. Even British rulers had also greatly swayed the cuisine of the city.

Ingredients Used in Chennai Cuisine

Rice is the main component in Chennai food that is used in making most of the dishes in Chennai. Other supplementary food items include coconut, banana, nuts, lentils and vegetables. South Indian curry dishes typically include curry leaves, mustard seeds and red chilies.

Spices are generously used in Chennai recipes and curries as well as dry dishes are eaten with rice, idli and dosa. Mustard and coconut oil is traditionally used to provide a subtle flavor to food in Chennai. Buttermilk and betel leaves are having great importance in the traditional Chennai meals.

For the non-vegetarians also, the food in Chennai can be very interesting. Chicken, mutton and, most importantly, fish are the main meats used to make Chennai non-vegetarian dishes.

Cooking Methods Adapted in Making Chennai Recipes

Food in Chennai is usually prepared by steaming and stir-frying method. Deep-frying is also quiet often done for making snack items such as vadas and pakoras. Tempering is one of the most famous methods adopted for flavoring the curry as well as dry dishes in Chennai.

Popular Dishes of Chennai

· Rasam – It is a thin soup dish popular in Chennai.

· Dosa – It is a kind of pan-fried pancake traditionally prepared with rice and dal batter.

· Idli – Steamed rice cakes typically served in breakfast in Chennai.

· Medu Vada – A kind of dal vada that is deep-fried to make them crispy.

Places to Eat Best of Chennai Food

From idli to allapams and sambar to Chettinad curry, food in Chennai has everything to offer. Here are some of the popular eating places in Chennai that serve South Indian cuisine as well as other regional and western cuisines:

  • Anjappar – Located in Anna Nagar, this restaurant serves authentic Chennai dishes from past forty years. With its forty outlets all over Chennai, this eating joint follows the age-old Chennai food serving tradition.
  • Dakshin – A restaurant in the ITC Maurya Sheraton, TTK Road, Chennai, this high profile South Indian restaurant is famous for its sea food dishes including squids and lobsters.
  • Copper Chimney – North Indian cuisine is also at its best in Chennai. Mughlai dishes are traditionally prepared in this suburban restaurant and served with traditional styles.


Chennai food is incomplete without Tamilian filter coffee. The aroma of Arabic roasted coffee beans is the specialty of this filter coffee.