Triplicane High Road, Chennai.
Meal for two: Rs 350
Since 1946, people have been making a pilgrimage to Triplicane for two reasons: the first, of course, is the Parthasarathy temple, but the other is ‘Triplicane Ratna Cafe’, with its legendary sambar and idlis. It’s located in a crowded gully, opposite ABT Tyres Tubeless Puncher (sic), and its signboard proclaims it to be the ‘Crown of South India’, which is a forgiveable exaggeration. It’s a sprawling two-storey maze of eating and cooking spaces, wafting the fragrance of masalas and drumsticks that make up their famous sambar.
Their fluffy idlis are served with a large, specially designed dabara to pour the sambar. Apparently, they’ve patented this sambar pourer, but they should also patent the sambar itself, so flavoursome that customers are known to drink it by the tumbler-full (it’s rumoured that the secret ingredient is pumpkin). Our idlis were...