Ep 12: Rabbit roast at Amma Mess, and discovering Rocky’s inner ‘French Punjabi’
In this episode, Rocky, Mayur, Abhinandan and Prashant drive across Tamil Nadu. During their journey, the gang deep-dives into the culture and stories from this region while they travel across topographically wide-ranging cities with equally vivacious food culture. The drive into Tamil Nadu starts with Rocky breaking down the myth that it’s a predominantly vegetarian state. As he explains, Chennai has some of the most delicious Kadhai Quail and Nand Curry, and these dishes are a sign of how much the people from this part of the country love their meat. Meanwhile, Prashant describes a brusque ordeal with a representative of the Meenakshi temple in Madurai where, as they later realised, cameras and shooting was not allowed. Prashant also talks about how, like a good Dilliwala, he got out of the mess. Making inroads into his memories of Chennai, Abhinandan talks about one of the most satisfying breakfasts he’s ever had at Murugan Idli, a fairly medium-sized local favourite which now has branches in multiple countries. Rocky recollects the wide range of chutneys that were served at Murugan and how they could constitute a meal in itself. The team then drives to Mylai Karpagambal Mess, a small family-run eatery in Chennai’s Mylapore. As they pick through their memories, the gang talks about the authentic cuisine the owner dished out, and how he had borrowed the recipes from his mother and grandmother. The team reminisces about Mylai Karpagambal Mess as much for the man who ran it as for the food. As they drive out of Chennai, Rocky takes the listeners to the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust and Centre For Herpetology. This, as Rocky mentions, is a crocodile conservation centre which had more than 23 species of crocodile when they visited. The centre is also credited with having released more than 5,000 crocodiles and alligators back into the wild.The team then makes its way to the “fountainhead of biryani”, as described by Prashant: Dindigul. Rocky explains how Dindigul’s unique version of biryani came to be, and how it’s prepared with short-grain rice and lots and lots of spices. He also explains the difference between “kacchi” and “pakki” biryani. Heading from spicy biryani to great coffee and confectioneries, the gang drives to Puducherry, where Rocky demonstrates his “French Punjabi” style of speaking. Prashant recalls his long walks down the promenade, and why it’s the best place to have a meal in the middle of the night. Mayur remembers the French owner and French wine at Satsang Hotel, where Rocky ate unforgettable pork chops. The team then goes to Kodaikanal which, as Abhinandan describes, has a beautiful drive leading up to a small town with a small marketplace filled with restaurants and cafes. Mayur leaves our listeners with a list of the most famous things from Kodai, which includes magic mushrooms, chocolates and schools. The next stop is Ooty, with great food at the Sidewalk Cafe, and then Madurai, where they embarked on a search for Amma Mess. Rocky remembers a meal at one of the messes, of bone marrow omelette, rabbit roast, and Chicken Kalikattu. The conversation ends with everyone swapping stories on the energy of the Tamil people and their passion for politics, films, and food, and Abhinandan’s trip to his maternal hometown of Tirunelveli where he ate its famous Halwa. All this and more, only on Highway On My Podcast.
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