Raw mango slices dusted with red chilli powder; batter-fried crispy shrimps; diced pineapple bits and sizzling corn-on-the-cob, sounds like a typical spread on a beach? Spot on! Chennai it is! Bessie beach in Chennai has a shoreline which offers numerous gastronomic delights that can make anyone go gaga over them. The joy of watching sunset at the beach with piping hot idlis in your hand is euphoric. Murugan Idli Shop, located at the Edward Elliot's beach (Bessie Beach) dishes out some of the softest and fluffiest idlis down south. This city has its own charm and Murugan Idli Shop is its truest blessing. Chennaites connect themselves to the sea shores more than anything else. For most of them, indulging in a traditional south Indian spread and heading to work is a normal routine.
Be it day or night, Murugan Idli shop is thronging with people round the clock and is likely to have long queues of people waiting to be seated. A waiting time of half an hour to 45 minutes is normal here. Such is the demand! If you ever happen to be in Chennai and wish to experience the real pulse of the city, then do give Murugan Idli Shop a visit. The moment you enter this quaint little eatery, the piquant aroma of idlis smothered with melted ghee and spicy gunpowder (podi chutney) will tingle your taste buds in no time. The most exciting part of having a meal here is that no cutlery is available and everybody eats with hands. So, roll up your sleeves and dig in!
This place is as authentic as it can get. The waiters (fondly called as Anna) will make you comfortably seated and then put banana leaves in front of you on which the food would be served. They will ask you to sprinkle some water over the leaf so as to clean it. Do that, or else they won't serve you the food. Yes, they have their own eating ethics and we must follow them! The moment you ask Anna about dishes on the menu, he will bombard you with names of dishes which you probably wouldn't have even heard of before. So, it's always a better idea to order by having a glance at the menu board which is present on the front wall of the eatery.
To start with, they will serve you with four kinds of chutneys (coconut, coriander, tomato and mint) on the banana leaf, each of which has a distinct and strong flavour. What makes this place stand out from the others is the quality of their idlis. One can almost feel the tip of the other finger while pressing the idli from both sides. Yes, they are that soft. Apart from this, an exciting highlight of the meal is their soft and flavourful Paniyarams. They are smothered in podi which is soaked in ghee. Their Onion Uthapam is also a great option to go for as it has a burst of flavours. This savoury delight is an absolute treat as it has bits of onions charred to perfection. Murugan Idli Shop also serves an authentic drink by the name Jigarthanda which is loved by many. It is an interesting concoction of milk, ice cream and sabudana. Once you're done with the meal, wash it down with a chilled glass of their traditional Jigarthanda and you're done for the day.
To round it off, if you're looking for one of those days when you wish to spend some 'me' time, watching sunset at the beach, then head to this place as it will do complete justice to it. Namma Madras!
Where: Edward Elliot's beach (Bessie Beach), Besant Nagar, Chennai