Murugan Idly – Besant Nagar Chennai


In a nutshell:

One of the best South Indian (Vegetarian) foods I have ever had anywhere…… bad luck they do not have a branch in Delhi.

Address & Contact – Restaurant website Murugan Idly

Cuisine Type: Vegetarian

Meal for 2: Rs. 200 onwards

Short description – In case u r in a hurry:

I had a strange experience with myself at Murugan Idly: My hands just resisted to stop – they kept transporting more & more of outstandingly delicious food to the mouth. The tastebuds wud thank them and ask for more & they wud oblige…… till the time the stomach imposed a curfew on the mouth & oesophagus!!!!!!

Lots of food between three of us – lipsmacking – ‘cannot stop having’ kind, freshly made & served piping hot – Started with soft, flavorful salty Paniyaram after dipping it in gunpowder that has been soaked in ghee. Moved on to super soft & sour idlis, 3 kinds of chutneys that I took 3 helpings each, a thick sambhar, crisp upper & soft inside medu vada with lots of full black pepper thrown in, A tasty Onion Utthapam, rava ghee onion dosa with a never before potato filling and as if this was not enough, a dessert of fantastic ghee-laden full of aromatic flavors Pongal. Honestly, I have not had so much food in any one meal in the last five years!!!!

Detailed description – In case u have time to read & enjoy

As we took seat, a banana leaf was placed on the table (with the rib of the leaf towards us), so that if any liquid flows unhindered, it wud not flow towards us & spoil the shirt. Disposable plastic glasses were placed inside steel ‘Glass holders’!!! No cutlery is available & everyone eats with hands. We were asked to pour a spoonful of water on the banana leaf & wash it ourselves!!!!

When asked the menu, the waiter started saying it so fast that it sounded nothing short of a Rap number – just needed some cool background music…… We ordered little portions of all to try.

First came Paniyaram that is somewhat like a muffin in looks & texture but salty , soft, mustard seeds in them & also Curry leaves. Very tasty as it is.

With this was served a smooth & very spice induced flavorful Gunpowder & a lot of liquid ghee. On mixing these, the resultant paste took the color & look of liquid dark chocolate. Unlike the Gunpowder served at Andhra Bhawan Delhi, this one is more spicy than hot – The one at Andhra Bhawan is also comparatively coarse & of a orangish color. …………. The combination of Paniyaram & gunpowder paste was simply sooperb.

Post this Coconut, coriander, tomato & mint chutney were served on the banana leaf. Each of them distinct & tasty – I super loved the coriander, coconut & mint ones & ended up taking three helpings of each of these. The tomato one was Ok.

These chutneys came as accompaniments to idlis. The idlis were soft, I could almost feel the tip of the other finger while pressing the idly from both sides. There was a nice aroma of the rice & the taste was more sour than the usual ones. It was piping hot & had a dense texture – minimal pin-holes. Loved the idlis & had few of them in succession…… one of the best I have ever had.

What happened post this was quite a shock – The liquid ‘sambhar’ was also served on the flat banana leaf instead of the customary tiny steel bowl. The sambhar was thankfully slightly thicker than usual but it needed constant attention from a novice like me (in the art of eating liquid from a flat surface with no walls) to prevent it from flowing out.

The service was fast & very efficient.

The medu vada had a Crisp upper surface & a soft inner side – with lots of full black pepper thrown in. The flavor of the cooked full pepper and the flavors of the lentils used for making the vada mingled to give an excellent aroma. I do not know which one is more authentic but on the Medu vada I still prefer the one served at Saravana Bhawan.

A tasty Onion Utthapam came next – nothing fancy but as good as an utthapam can get. The onions were long & slightly thick and were browned by frying thus adding a distinct taste and smell.

The Rava ghee onion ‘masala’ dosa was very good but not outstanding on its own. The ‘masala’ of the masala dosa was served separately in a leaf bowl – it was a ‘I never had so good before ever in my whole life’ kind of curried potato. The potato was almost mashed with large chunks of half fried onions, traces of dal, curry leaves & spices………….. an experience in itself.

Even at the verge of our stomachs bursting, we could not resist ordering Sweet Pongal for dessert. It is something similar to payasam – made with some excellent aromatic rice, gur, cashew that has softened but retained its taste, ghee & some secret spices that are full of flavor………… I can drive a 100 km post dinner at home to have this for dessert…..alas Chennai is 20 times farther than my limit

I am so overwhelmed by the dinner at Murugan that this post might not read like a review but a ‘homage’ to some great Chefs with some incredible ancestors who invented all this & kept innovating them to perfection over decades & centuries.

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6 comments

  1. I am reminded of my days in Chennai and my visits to the Murugan Idly Shop. But i used to visit the T Nagar branch…but the taste was out of the world, but usually the quantity of food I used to eat in a single sitting was substantially less!! Thanks for the article….loved it….

    1. ……………. on the Quantity of food – I am still surprised how I ate so much that evening!!!! It was lipsmackng…………… I hope Murugan Idy owners read this & open a shop in Delhi / Gurgaon

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