Nagapattinam Halwa Shop, Madurai

Nagapattinam Halwa Shop, Madurai

While starting from Theni, I decided to do a quick stop over at any one of the iconic places in Madurai, so that I can pack some delicacies for folks at home. Since I've tasted prema vilas halwa umpteen times, I wanted to check out Nagapattinam Halwa Shop, West Chithirai Street, diagonally opposite to the West Gopuram of Meenakshi Amman Temple. A 117 year old shop dishes out halwa along with other sweets and savouries. Priced at 320/Kg, this halwa was silky smooth in texture. Summa vazhukittu pochu :P Not overpowering with ghee and perfect amount of sweetness, this was one of the best I had in recent times. Their "kizhabgu pottalam" aka the potato masala, sells like hot cakes. Priced at Rs.10/per pottalam, it was super spicy with bite sized green chillies and loved the strong note of fennel. It would be an apt side dish for thachu mummu :P


They do serve a tasting portion (in picute) for 20 bucks. A must try if you are in Madurai. 

Amma Mess, Madurai

Amma Mess, Madurai

When I scheduled my return from Theni, via Madurai I made sure that I’ve time for a relaxed lunch at Madurai before the flight. I wanted to try Amma Mess this time and while talking to my brother about the same, he casually said “Avlo scene ellam illa”. Sometime it’s okay to listen to the younger ones advice. Doing so would’ve saved you from the utmost disappointment. But adhellam kettuta namakku Enna mariyadhai.

4 of us checked in Amma Mess at Alagar Kovil Main Road, Thallakulam. It was 12.45 and we were the second set of customers. One among us was pure vegetarian. Ordered 4 meals along with crab omelette, ayira meen kuzhambu, few Kola and a mutton liver fry. Two veggies (ladies finger & snake gourd kootu), mutton kuzhambu, meen kuzhambu, rasam, buttermilk and pickle are part of the meals (Rs.100) Upon requesting not to serve any non veg to one of us, we were told that there’s an exclusive meal for vegetarians that comes with extra veggie, payasam, sambhar and pappad. Very considerate eh!!
First came the kola urundai. Was good. But nothing to rave about. Couldn’t help comparing it with the ones I had in Venu biriyani in Dindugul. Next came the biggest disappointment in a small bowl. Ayira Meen Kuzhambu (Rs.225) was served in a small bowl. You can imagine the size of the bowl which can hold about 7-8 spoonful of the kuzhambu. Portion size oru pakkam, tasteaavadhu nallairundha parava illa. I’ve not tasted such a tasteless gravy in recent times. It was neither spicy nor tangy or nothing to relate with a meen kuzhambu. Disappointed to the core I moved on to the mutton gravy that comes with the meals. Coconut based gravy was damn watery and again didn’t even cross the average mark in taste. I felt the regular meen kuzhambu that was served with the meals was better beyond comparison than the ayira meen kuzhambu that we bought separately. Mutton liver fry and crab omelette were served much later after multiple reminders. At a stage I even asked to cancel those two as we were almost done with the meals. Crab omelette was okayish.




I should’ve gone to Chandran Mess as per Bro’s suggestions. Paid 1400 bucks for such a below average meal. More than the money, I feel bad for wasting my time in Madurai on a padu sumaar sappadu ☹️☹️

Hotel Karthik, Theni

Hotel Karthik, Theni

When we were on our way to Vaigai Dam, I was told that the fish fry & meals are not to be missed for lunch. After enjoying a stunning view of Vaigai, the lifeline of some of the southern districts in Tamilnadu, we checked in Hotel Karthik, highly recommended by the locals for lunch. This place is located a few metres away from the Vaigai dam Police station on the periyakulam-varusanadu road. A tin shed, functioning as a hotel, was clean and I could see fish swimming on every banana leaf on all the tables :P

Meals (Rs.50) has fish kulambu, one veggie, one legume, rasam & buttermilk. You can opt for the fish in the kuzhambu & fish fry separately. Both kuzhambu & fry had Jalebi (type of freshwater fish). The coconut based kuzhambu was thin, zero tangy, spicy. Even though I always like meen kuzhambu thick & tangy, I loved this one to bits. Fish in the kuzhambu was as fresh as it can be and was melt in the mouth type. Chumma vennai madhiri vayila karainjadhu :) Fish fry was mindblowing. Deep fried fish with perfect marination had a crisp outer layer and soft flesh. Loved it to the core. Surprisingly thattai payiru went well with the kuzhambu. During my short stay in Theni, I noticed that people here eat sundal rite from the morning itself. Every tea shop has a legume varaint with minimal tempering. Infact I had it as my breakfast on all three days :) 




Five of us had meals along with kuzhambu meen and fish fry. Paid 610 bucks in total for all these. Given the size of the fish & its freshness level, it's absolute value for money. 

Venu Biriyani, Dindugul

Venu Biriyani, Dindugul

When the road trip to Theni was finalised, I told myself that whatever happens, we need to stop at Venu for lunch. During our Coimbatore trip, these people floored me with their awesome of the aromale biryani & kola. But it was 11.45am when we were nearing Dindugul. Appa wanted to skip this en-route. I had other ideas :P I threw a tantrum (When it come to food I'll go to any level :D) and he finally gave up. 11.50 we were at the restaurant, which was pretty empty. They've a air conditioned dining space and a separate take away counter. I was told that majority of the business happens at the take away counter.

Appa refused biriyani and he just had mutton chukka and liver fry. Myself and junior had 1/2 portion of biriyani each along with boneless chicken. I was disappointed when they told that kola will take time and won't be available anytime soon. Upon multiple requests (read nagging), the staff somehow managed to serve me kola. Biriyani was piping hot with lots of tender mutton pieces. Less oily and few irritants. Medium spicy and aromatic biriyani, I loved every morsel. Asked Appa to taste a little and he also liked it a lot. Kozhuppu kulambu wasn't ready by the time. But the Dalcha made up for it. This place serves onion raita exactly the way I like. I took 3-4 servings of the thick creamy raita and ended up eating it just like that. Kola was brilliant with perfect balance of spices and was melt in the mouth type with a crispy outer. Boneless chicken fry was tender and surprisingly no food colouring and was 
well marinated. It was crispy and the batter rendered a mild spicy note to the chicken. Loved it. Paid close to 1000 bucks for all these.





The take away/parcel section is damn busy with biriyani packets flying off the counter. Before billing, they are asking whether it's for local consumption or travelling. Accordingly biriyani gets packed in banana leaf or aluminium foil containers. Two half portion of biriyanis along with 4 kola urundai set me back by 600 odd bucks. I was told that the biriyani tasted awesome even after 2 hours from packing.

This will be one of my favourite places for biriyani. Every time  I happen to pass by, I will definitely take a detour just for this beauty :) 

Makkan Peda @ Chettiar Sweet Stall, Arcot

Makkan Peda @ Chettiar Sweet Stall, Arcot

Spending about 9 years of my childhood in Vellore District has given me a lot of good memories to cherish. I wasn't a foodie then. My mos was an excellent cook and the maximum exposure I had was Kanna Hotel in Vellore, my college canteen, few sweet shops (dry fruit halwa & coconut mixture) opposite to fort. A veg hotel in Muthukadai & some snack shops in Walaja. Out of all my all time favourite are the gundu gunndu makkan pedas oozing with jeera :) I was a herbivore who eats only eggs (that too outside home)

So during our recent trip to Walaja, I decided to loot the Chettiar Sweet Stall :P Located in the bazar road, few mtrs away from the bus stand (near Pillayar temple) this is 186 year old establishment that sells droolworthy sweets & savouries. Every makkan peda is 100gms and costs about 25 bucks (I think). A twin version of gulab jamun, but stuffed with nuts & dry fruits these beauties will make u fall in love with them. But beware even for a person with sweetest tooth, one full makkan peda may be a bit cloying. On the other hand, it's sin to stop without finishing one :P




Packed about 2kgs of makkan peda and that's when the owner surprised me with a malai badhusha (I remember him saying something like that starting malai) and some onion pakoda. The taste was mindblowing. I almost hate badhushas and this one was absolutely melt in the mouth kind of ones with perfect sweetness. Got 1/4kg of that without second thoughts. I was clicking pics while my orders were getting packed, the samosas soaked in jeera (sugar syrup) looked damn inviting. He gave me a handful of onion pakodas and asked me to have them. While I was puzzled, he kept a khova samosa in a paper plate and handed over it to me <3<3 The regular samosa outer layer, stuffed with sweet paalkova :) Whattay wow it was. Since my dad was already looking at me like "Carukku badhila lorry eduthuttu vandhirukkanum" I refrained myself from packing that too :P





2 kgs of Makkan peda, 1/4 kg of malai badhusha, 1/4 kg of coconut mixture & regular mixture, I paid 610 bucks for all these. There are also places like Kannan Sweets, Chairman Sweets which sells makkan peda, I personally prefer them. Makkan Peda served with a bit of love & care :)

Star Biriyani, Arcot

Star Biriyani, Arcot

A trip upto Walajapet, Dad and myself were discussing lunch options in and around. I was in mood for meat. Dad goes with established places with ambience and family dining etc etc. To my surprise he suggested Star biriyani at Arcot with a condition that we will get it parcelled and eat in the car itself. I was more than happy. After all biriyani enga sapitta enna :P



A 60+ year old establishment selling only mutton biriyani, this place is located in the annasalai. Near Ramakrishna School in Arcot. Their biriyani sells like hot cakes and by 2pm it gets over mostly. And on weekdays the threshold is 11-12pm. We got our parcels by 12 pm on a Thursday. Neatly packed in Mandharai leaf along with little raita and lemon pickle, each parcel (1/2 plate) was priced at 130 bucks. After 45 minutes we opened the parcel and boy o boy what a smell. The biriyani was more than warm. Short grained fragrant rice, less oily and nil irritants, the biryiani was spicy. It had about 4-5 chunks of juicy perfectly cooked mutton pieces. Packing in mandharai leaf definitely has an impact on the taste. Portion was pretty huge for me. It would be more than enough for a voracious eater. I was bloody hungry and managed to finish 70% of it without raita or any other accompaniment :) A must try if you are travelling via Arcot.

They don't have branches anywhere else.

Cereal Killer Bistro

Cereal Killer Bistro

I am not a "cereal for breakfast" person. I am somehow not convinced with the quick, healthy (they do have truck loads of sugar) selling point of such cereals. In fact the last time I had a bowl of cereal (kellog's chocos :P) was some 12 years ago. The true blue South Indian in me simply refuses to fall for such fads.

Now someone can raise the question, why now? Well I was in the vicinity of Cereal Killer Bistro (Anna Nagar East, next lane to the metro station after the rountana, behind the scoop bar). I wanted to eat something off the track as I have reduced eating out a lot and also a week of being a true blue South Indian becomes monotonous :P I just noticed this place while I was sitting in my car waiting for my kid. Thought of checking them out as I didn't have breakfast that day. A compact place with pleasant outdoor seating and an indoor seating with a view full of plants and trees. They do have a wide spread menu ranging from starters to sandwiches to pastas. But I wanted to do justice to the place. Kill some cereals. I quickly settled for a cereal bowl called "Dexter's Date with the Muesli" (Rs.210). A bowl loaded with mixed fruit & nut muesli, dates, oats bites, black currants, almonds, whipped cream, pomegranate, a dash of caramel sauce along with a bottle of chilled almond milk. It was little bit sugary. May be because of the whipped cream. I liked the crunch from the almonds & the cereal. It would've been better if the pomegranate pearls were fresh and not frozen. It would've been much better if there weren't any pomegranate at all. It didn't fit in with the rest of the ingredients :( But that's my opinion anyway. The almond milk was mildly sweetened and wasn't too runny. The cappucino (Rs.130) I had after the cereal was a bit weak for my standards.





Overall, if you are a cereal lover and used to have it frequently, you may like this place. To me, I tried a new place that serves cereal bowls. Will I go back ? Mmmm may be not. As I am not a cereal person :)