Sometime last week, I flew into Chennai, spent a day doing meetings and made a long trek to reach my hotel at 7 pm. At this point, most people would order room service and crawl into their beds. But I had friends who were heading out to dinner to Murugan Idli. I'd never heard the name before but it came highly recommended and I am easily persuaded. Thus came a one hour cab ride in Chennai traffic and a bit of a wait outside the T Nagar branch of this famous chain. Then we sat down and the world turned a whole lot brighter.
The moment you sit down, they spread a banana leaf in front of you and spoon in 4 kinds of chutneys. These are your usual coconut and tomato relishes though I was particularly taken in by the tamarind one. From here on, I left it to my friend to order. The folks at Murugan don't linger so just a few minutes after we ordered, we had food coming onto our banana leaf plates.
The plain idli is super soft but just you wait until you taste idli-podi. It's the same idli; just completely covered with a layer of ghee and gunpowder. We also had crisp medhu vadas and delicious paniyarams. I was pretty full at this point so I just tasted a bit off my friend's onion uttapam. And that brings me to my unfinished business in Chennai and Murugan.
I count my life by 'aha' food moments and Murugan Idli certainly qualifies to make my top ten. That onion uttapam, my friends, is really what's right with the world. Perfectly crisp and topped with podi and deeply caramalised onions, it has to be the best uttapam I've ever eaten. So if you see me making another trip to Chennai, it's likely because I want to polish off an uttapam, or five, and top it up with Jigarthanda.
What's jigarthanda you ask! I wondered too, on how you would name a drink cold heart. Apparently this one is a milkshake-ice cream hybrid and a pretty popular one too, if the queues are anything to go by. We finished our meal with filter coffee so Jigarthanda is on the calendar for my next trip to Chennai. This is one trip you should take too, and soon!