The title of this post sums up our dining experiences in Madurai last week. We were there for one full day before heading out to my in-laws village close to Maniachi, Tamil Nadu for Pongal.
These beautiful kolams greeted me outside Akka’s (Mahesh’s older sister) house and reminded me of the years spent in Chennai. Women wake up early in the morning and make these in front of their houses. Don’t they look really pretty?
Our morning began with a fiery chicken curry and dosas prepared by Akka. The chicken curry was so hot that I had to add some sugar to it. It was spicy and yet very tasty. I could discern the flavours of coconut, sambhar onions, ginger, and garlic in it. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of the dish.
After breakfast we set out to locate the house of Drawing Sir (Mahesh’s art teacher at school) who had a very positive influence over Mahesh while he was studying at KV Madurai. Mahesh vaguely remembered the area in which Sir lived. With no house number or phone number to verify the exact address we ambled around till Mahesh recognized the house. Thankfully, the auto driver was very cooperative and took us around without grumbling. We were lucky as Sir’s daughter had just come to clean up the house on the occasion of Pongal. The family had moved out of this place two years ago. We learnt that Drawing Sir was now living in Bangalore. We took phone numbers this time and decided to connect with him in Bangalore.
We then decided to make a quick visit to Mahesh’s school with the hope of meeting some old teachers. The school building had expanded over the years. We met the Principal who warmly greeted us and told us about the alumni association. We managed to meet two of his teachers. One of them had even attended our wedding in Madurai. I reminisced about my school days in KV CLRI, Chennai and could understand the joy Mahesh felt in reliving some of the memories he had.
I clicked a few pictures of the school including one where the children were eating lunch in the ground.Children carrying heavy lunch wire baskets (that is so typical of the South) sat down in groups to eat. You will notice how gendered the whole setup is. Wonder why girls and boys can’t eat lunch together.
Lunch time in school was always something to look forward to. I used to love the sambhar rice and veggies my friends got while my mother’s Alu Dum was a hot favourite among my gang of friends. I remember nagging my friends to get recipes from their mother’s so that I could tell my mother to make them for me.
We stepped out of the school and treated ourselves to nariyal paani. These orange coconuts known as sevezhani (“sev” means red and “ezhani” means daab) are sweeter than the green ones. If you spot these in Tamil Nadu or Kerala do try and have at least one.
We also stopped by Sundaram Iyengar’s Bakery opposite the school where Mahesh and his friends used to snack after school. We picked up a pack of Macaroons (which is erroneously called “macaroni”) and murukkus and then headed home for lunch.
Lunch was a simple and delicious meal comprising of rasam, beetroot sabji, and some more of the spicy chicken curry. This was a followed by a much required siesta.
For dinner we went to a multi-cuisine restaurant called Thaai. We steered clear of the Chinese, Continental, and North Indian dishes on the menu. Their serving portions are quite small and we ended up ordering almost all the South Indian non-vegetarian dishes on their menu. We started with Chicken 65 and chicken nuggets. The nuggets were quite sad but the chicken 65 was decent. Next was chicken kotthu paratha, mutton biryani, and chicken curry dosa served with dalcha. The kotthu paratha was not spicy at all and was quite different from the one I had eaten at Egg Factory in Bangalore. The biryani was very good and so was the chicken curry dosa.
We also ordered a Ceylon paratha and a mutton curry dosa. The Ceylon paratha is similar to the Kolkata Mughlai Paratha and came stuffed with an egg. The mutton curry dosa was the star dish of the day. It’s basically a dosa with an egg on top followed by spicy mutton pieces. It resembles a desi version of a pizza as is tastier. This is definitely something I plan to try in my kitchen soon.
All the dishes together came for Rs 700 only! There was one item on our list that we did not manage to have – Jigarthanda – a drink similar to falooda that had been popularized by the Marwari population in Madurai. We told ourselves that we should leave this for our next trip to Madurai. As you can see, this was a lot of meat for one day. We are not complaining!