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Apr 18, 2012 10:14 PM

Chennai, India - World's best idlis at Murugan Idli Kadai

No self-respecting foodie would ever, *ever*, leave Chennai without having had a meal at Murugan Idli Shop. Only 22 years-old this year (its origins harked back further than that - Murugan Coffee Nilayam, which served coffee & snacks to late-night travellers in Madurai back in 1966), it's reputation for serving great South Indian breakfast items far preceded it.

What I tried:
- Steamed idlis. You've never really had idlis until you've tried Murugan's idlis - truly, as most Chennai-ites claimed, the "best idlis in the world". Small pillow-soft discs of pure deliciousness - perfect for soaking in the chutneys and spicy sambhar curry gravy.
Murugan's served its idlis with a variety of chutneys: the usual white-ish coconut-chutney; the spicy reddish-brown-hued chilli-spiked kara-chutney; a sweeter less-spicy orange-colored onion kara-chutney; and the greenish-brown mint chutney.
Also provided on request (and very highly recommended ... by moi) is the sesame oil and "podi" powder (a mixture of dhal powder, chilli, pepper & turmeric). Pour the sesame oil into the powder and mix into a delicious nutty paste - a perfect dip for the idlis besides the chutneys, and a watery, sour-spicy "sambhar" lentil curry gravy.

- a super-light & crisp "vadai" fritter. Again, Murugan's version seemed a class above the versions I tried in other places.

- Paper thosai - wafer-thin and prepared a la minute, served hot & crispy;

- the sweet "Sakkarai Ponggal" rice pudding, flavored with brown jaggery sugar, provided a sweet ending to a very satisfying breakfast. Oh, and did I also mention that their filtered South Indian-style coffee was simply delicious.

Address details
Murugan Idli Shop
7th Avenue, Besant Nagar
Adyar, Chennai
Tel: +91-42018181

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  1. What if one doesn't like breads for breakfast? ;-)

    Interesting. The thosai looks very nice...

    Hmm, never thought about it - but it struck me about கடை (kadai) meaning shop (= kedai in Malay) - and sent me off on a mini-search for the etymology of "kedai". Gues what - it *is* derived from the Tamil:

    1 Reply
    1. re: huiray

      Oh yes, the Malays co-opted "kadai" into the Malay language as "kedai".

      Indian vegetarian cuisine is pretty carb-centred - woe betides anyone on a low-carb diet here!

    2. How does Murugan Idli Shop's Singapore branch stack up against its original branch in Chennai? I remembered having the paruppu podi powder mixed with ghee for the first time there. It was very unique as we usually only have the coconut chutney and sambhar with our idlis in Singapore.

      2 Replies
      1. re: M_Gomez

        No comparison at all, Martha - the ones in Singapore tasted like those from anywhere else in Singapore (or India) whilst the Murugan Idli outlets in Chennai had the lightest, fluffiest idlis in the world!!

        1. re: klyeoh

          I should think so, I didn't detect anything special in Murugan Singapore's idlis, so i was guessing that they must be different from the famous ones in Chennai.