Southern Flavour on #28States28Plates day 20 blog
Another day heading further south, another day spent appreciating the NH16. It really has to be one of the best highways in the country — at least this southern bit of it. The route from Vijayawada to Chennai was absolutely fantastic. We covered the 450-odd kilometre journey in just over seven hours, including a stop for breakfast, a mid-day tea stop and a fuel up!
We did face some congestion in certain bits, primarily due to a couple of minor accidents on the highway, but overall it was quite empty and the Renault Kiger’s 1-litre turbo-petrol engine seemed to have a ball as we held a solid cruising speed. We stopped for breakfast at a dhaba, actually it wasn’t even a proper dhaba, just a van with some tables laid out in front of it. We ordered a mix of South Indian breakfast staples — dosas, idlis, vada and puri with vegetable korma. All of it was yum, and this was actually the first time we’d tried out egg dosa, which essentially replaces the ‘masala’ of a masala dosa with a fried egg. It’s quite good actually, especially with coconut chutney. In true #28States28Plates fashion, we ended up eating more than we should’ve. However, this meant that we didn’t really have to stop later for lunch and could push on till our destination — Lemon Tree Chennai.
We arrived at Lemon Tree Chennai fairly early actually, and like with every Lemon Tree, we were treated like kings! Panagam was served as a refreshing welcome drink followed by coconut water, both of which were much needed after even slight exposure to Chennai’s heat. And, even though we informed the hotel on very short notice that we’d make it in time for lunch, the chef prepared a traditional chicken curry for us with hints of coconut in it, a mix-veg sabzi and some dal. Simple, but very pleasing to the taste buds. After we’d finished, we got to eat some delicious semiya payasam which is a sweet dish made with a combination of sugar, milk and vermicelli.
To end the day, the staff at the Lemon Tree Chennai decorated one of the halls into a traditional coaster restaurant, with music and lighting to go along with it while the chef prepared a feast for us which had delicacies from all over Tamil Nadu. There was podi idli, fried fish, chicken pepper fry, mutton keema biryani, steamed rice, chicken stew, fish curry and a LOT more. To end the meal we were offered curd rice, which we had to politely decline because of just how much we’d eaten before it. Of course, right after this came the tender coconut payasam which was so yum, we managed to find some wiggle room in our bellies. After a good night’s sleep, tomorrow we cut across the map and head toward Bengaluru, the capital of Karnataka!