I landed in Chennai early morning and Prats whisked me off to Saravanaa Bhavan for breakfast. It was my request. I love idli, dosa, sambhar, the chutneys, idli podi and of course good South Indian filter coffee. And I want it traditional and I want it perfectly Tamilian. Chennai's varied cuisine is always beckoning me. My friend Prats happens to be a wonderful guide into the not so well known but spectacularly delicious places in the city.
Of course, Saravanaa Bhavan's reputation precedes itself. With over a 100 outlets world over it is probably the best known restaurant for good, fast cheap South Indian food. What I did not know was that my fondly called Idli- Dosa is actually called a tiffin. Hence we had tiffin for breakfast. Prats ordered an appam with sweetened coconut milk. My exposure to appam has been limited and mostly accompanied with a chicken or fish curry. She poured the coconut milk in the center of these bowl shaped pancakes made of fermented rice flour. The center is slightly thick like an idli. The coconut milk fills up all the pores and moistens the pancake. And with our hands we mixed and turned and tore and scooped at this absolutely delicious and simple tasting breakfast snack. I ordered a rawa masala dosa. It was good, crisp, hot with perfect filling of spicy potatoes called masala. The variety of chutneys- white coconut (not so spicy), green coconut (spicy), tomato (spicy and tangy and of course sambhar. My favourite always is the tomato chutney. The sambhar accompanying hit the spot. We got ourselves some good South Indian filter coffee that Prats poured back and forth in the little metal bowl accompanying the glass. She 'stretched' her coffee as it cooled down in the pouring. I followed suit and really enjoyed the experience. It seems like I always had my filter coffee the wrong way. It was a rewarding breakfast after an early morning flight from Mumbai to Chennai. My favourite sort of breakfast.
Prats took me next door to the oldest Nalli's in Chennai. Housed in a quaint old bungalow this Nalli's has serviced women purchasing sarees for various occasions for almost 80 years. This place is historic and best known for its south Indian silks especially from Kanchipuram. Later I told my mom about going to Nalli's and she told me she had been to the exact same Nalli's several years ago when I was a little 3 year old girl. I bought my first Nalli's silk to make into a typical Tamil Nadu skirt. Ms. Prats is going to design that for me. Can't wait!
Who doesn't love this song... with Prabhu deva and Jyothika (yup my namesake)