Tamil Nadu, the vibrant state down south of India is not just a place with stunning temples, but it’s also a place blessed with countless mouthwatering dishes. The ingredients, cooking techniques and flavors of each of these dishes vary from district to district, just like its people and landscape. From sweet to spicy, bitter to sour, the food in this state promises an unforgettable gastronomic adventure. So are you ready to experience the traditional and famous food of Tamil Nadu.

10 Famous Food Of Tamil Nadu To Try During Your Visit

In this blog we take you through the list of the most famous food of Tamil Nadu that you must try at least once.

1. Idli & Vada – Most Popular Duo 

what is the famous food of tamil nadu
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While in Tamil Nadu, the best way to start your day is with a plate of Idli and Vada. This beloved duo is famous among all, not just in Tamil Nadu but the whole of South India. Idli is a steamed rice pancake made from fermented batter of rice and lentils, while Vada is a doughnut-shaped savory fritter made of fermented Bengal gram deep-fried in oil. This delicious and balanced meal combo is always served with coconut chutney and sambar. The perfect balance of flavors of both the Idli and Vada makes it the most famous food item of Tamil Nadu.

Made With: rice, lentils, gram flour

Where To Try: Rayar’s Mess, Murugan Idli Shop, Adayar Anandha Bhavan, Saravana Bhavan

2. Dosa – Favorite Breakfast Item

dosa is a famous food items of tamil nadu
Crispy dosa with sambar and two types of chutnies.

Dosa is the most famous food of Tamil Nadu, it’s so famous that it is served for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even as a snack. This Tamilnadu traditional food is made of fermented batter by spreading over a pan like a pancake. There are many variations of dosas like, masala dosa, plain dosa, onion dosa, rava dosa, paper dosa, Ghee Roast Dosa, just to name a few. The crispy and flavorful dosas are generally served with a spiced potato mixture, sambar and chutney. 

Made With: urad dal, rice

Where To Try: Saravana Bhavan, Ratna Cafe, Krishna Restaurant, Eating Circles

Book Now: The best of Tamil Nadu South India in 6 days

3. Pongal – Harvest Festival Delight

tamilnadu traditional food which is sweet
Sweet Pongal with flowers in the background.

Pongal is a traditional food of Tamil Nadu that is most prepared during the harvest festival Pongal. Because of its creamy, porridge like consistency, people have started enjoying it as a breakfast food too. There are two variations to this dish, the sweet and savory ones. This authentic Tamil recipe is often cooked in open space as it is dedicated to the sun god. People have come out with many variations to this dish. Some of the different types of Pongal are Venn pongal, Puli pongal made with tamarind, Sakkarai pongal made with jaggery, and Melagu pongal made with black pepper.

Made With: rice and moong dal for additional flavors, ghee, black pepper, cumin seeds, and cashew nuts are added.

Where To Try: Hotel Saravana Bhavan, Murugan Idli Shop, Karpagambal Mess, Vasantha Bhavan

4. Chicken Chettinad – Fiery Chicken Curry

tamil nadu famous food for non-vegetarians
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For all those who love spicy and tangy flavors, this dish from the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu is perfect for you. It’s loaded with spices like pepper, fennel seeds, cloves, cinnamon and the tanginess comes from tomatoes, curds and tamarind. The combination of both brings a new taste to your palate. This mouth-watering dish is best enjoyed with roti and rice. The robust and complex flavors of Chettinad chicken makes it one of the most famous foods of Tamil Nadu. 

Made With: Chicken, spices,coconut, yogut

Where To Try: Dakshin, Anjappar, Raintree, Ponnusamy

5. Uttapam – Visually Similar To A Pizza

tamil nadu cuisine offers variety of options
South Indian Food Uttapam or ooththappam or Uthappa. Image Source: istock

A famous food of Tamil Nadu called Uttapam is another type of dosa that is visually similar to a pizza. This dish too is made of fermented batter of rice and urad dal. But what makes this dish different from the dosa is its texture and taste. Unlike the dosa, Uttapams are flat and crispy on the sides and soft and doughy from the middle. They are generally topped with vegetables like onions, tomatoes, grated carrot, and green chilies. For a unique flavor you can also try Uttapams topped with capsicum and cheese. This beloved dish of Tamil Nadu is both flavorful and nutritious.

Made With: Urad Dal, rice, onion, tomatoes, chillies

Where To Try: Hotel Sree Krishna, A2B, Annalakshmi Restaurant, Saravana Bhavan

6. Rasam – Authentic South Indian Soup

soup like food of tamil nadu
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Rasam is a popular soup-like dish that is packed with flavors because of the number of spices that go into it. This dish is a staple in every South Indian household as it is enjoyed with rice or consumed as soup every day. Lot of tamarind juice, tomatoes, and a blend of spices go into making this tangy and spicy dish. Often, rasam is confused with sambhar, but both of them are different and taste different. So don’t miss tasting both the famous food of Tamil Nadu while here.

Made With: tamarind, tomatoes, spices

Where To Try: Saravana Bhavan, Ratna Cafe, Komala Vilas, Crowne Plaza

7. Lemon Rice – A Lifesaver Dish

Lemon rice, also known as ‘Elumichai Sadam’ is a lifesaver dish
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Lemon rice, also known as ‘Elumichai Sadam’ is a lifesaver dish for all those who are running late on time for making breakfast, lunch or dinner. This simple yet tangy and flavorful dish is made by mixing cooked rice (or even leftover rice) with lemon juice, mustard seeds, curry leaves, and roasted peanuts. It’s another popular staple in Tamil homes as one can never go wrong with this dish. Of the many delicious and famous food of Tamil Nadu, you just cannot skip the lemon rice while touring the state.

Made With: Cooked Rice, lime juice andtempering of coconut, onions, mustard seeds, curry leaves, dried red chilies, and peanuts.

Where To Try: Komala Vilas, Meenakshi Bhavan, Sangeetha Veg Restaurant

Suggested Reads: The Best Things To See and Do In Tamil Nadu

8. Banana Bonda – Tea Time Fritters

traditional famous food of tamil nadu
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As the name suggests Banana Bonda is a delightful snack made with banana stuffing instead of the usual potato & vegetable stuffing. Mashed bananas are coated with a thick batter and deep fried in oil till golden brown. The crispiness of the outside and its soft and gooey interiors bursts out flavors with every bite. The sweetness from the bananas and the outside covered with sugar, cardamom, and coconut are both comforting and indulgent. This snack is mostly made during festivals and special occasions at home, however when you step outside, you can see them everywhere at all times.

Made With: gram flour, banana, sugar, cardamom, coconut

Where To Try: Sri Annapoorna, Adyar Ananda Bhavan, Sree Krishna Sweets

9. Murukku – Twisted And Crunchy Snack

Murukku’ which means ‘twisted’ in Tamil
A delicious twist to the famous South Indian snack made with rice flour.

Murukku, the most famous snack in South India originated from Tamil Nadu. ‘Murukku’ which means ‘twisted’ in Tamil is a crunchy and savory snack that is perfect for tea time. The dough of rice flour and urad dal is twisted into spirals and deep-fried till they are crispy and golden brown. This hard to beat snack is mostly prepared during the festival Diwali but today it’s so famous that it is available throughout India. The crunch and subtle spiciness of this year-round tea-time treat is a favorite among snack lovers of all ages.

Made With: rice flour, black gram, cumin and sesame seeds

Where To Try: Grand Sweets and Snacks, Sri Krishna Sweets, Rathna Stores, Nandini Sweets

10. Filter Coffee – Something To Wash It All Down

traditional metal coffee filter
South Indian Filter coffee served in a traditional tumbler or cup over roasted raw beans.

Ideal way to wash down all the good Tamil Nadu food is by having a strong and aromatic filter coffee. The coffee is brewed in a traditional metal coffee filter by using some freshly ground coffee beans. Once the decoction is ready, hot milk is poured into it and mixed well to form a foamed coffee. Coffee is one of the most widely consumed hot beverages as it is the perfect way to end your meal. Make sure to sip on some strong filter kaapi as soon as you step foot in Tamil Nadu. 

Made With: Coffee powder, milk and sugar

Where To Try: Indian Coffee House, Madras Coffee House, Mylai Karpagambal Mess, Saravana Bhavan

Also Read: How To Get Around Tamil Nadu’s Capital City


Whether you are a foodie or a curious traveler, the delicious Tamil Nadu cuisine is something that has to be explored by all.  So book your tickets now to enjoy a flavorful journey through Tamil Nadu’s culinary delights. We bet it’s going to leave you wanting for more. 


Which is the food capital of Tamil Nadu?

Madurai with a culinary tradition that dates back to the 12th century is known as the food capital of Tamil Nadu. Apart from the legendary Meenakshi Temple, Madurai is also famous for its mouth-watering and delectable range of dishes. 

Which is the famous rice dish of Tamil Nadu?

A Variety of traditional rice dishes like Thakkali Sadam, Tomato Rice, Thengai Sadam are very famous in Tamil Nadu, however Pongal, the very popular sweet/savory dish of Tamil Nadu tops the list.

Which sweet is famous in Tamil Nadu?

It’s quite difficult to pick only one dish as the famous sweet as Tamil Nadu is a place filled with mouthwatering sweet dishes. Erode Jangiri, Tirunelveli Halwa, Srivilliputhur Palkova, Karaikudi Adhirasam, Badusa, sweet pongal, Mudalur Muscoth Halwa, Coimbatore Mysore Pak are few of the delicious sweets to try while in Tamil Nadu.


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