Coffee Houses In Madurai!

Discussion in 'Madurai' started by varalotti, Oct 29, 2006.

  1. varalotti

    varalotti Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Most Gracious ILites,
    My first and foremost thanks are due to Induslady for starting a subforum for "namma ooru" Madurai and for Moderator Chitra for channelling my request to the Organisers.
    I dont want to crowd this forum also with my posts. But want to start the first post more out of love for this mofussil town which exudes a lot of charm.
    I was surprised to read in the latest Vikatan(or Kumudam, I forgot) that when a Chennaiite was in Germany and asked some Germans about Tamilnadu, they immediately remembered Madurai, its temple and all. The poor Chennaiite had to explain that Chennai was a bigger town and is about 450 kms from Madurai.

    One of my passions (apart from my profession and writing) is coffee. I will do anything to have a strong, good, aromatic coffee. My search for a good coffee is as fervent as my search for good books and good friends.
    And such a search took me to some of the best coffee joints of Madurai. Let's have a little bit of history while sipping Madurais best coffee.

    Now I am not for any kind of readymade coffee. Bru/Nescafe or for that matter any other brand, I say a firm no. In fact my body is so much against instant coffee that even that smell makes me puke. Yes, believe me, with a whiff, I can find out if the coffee is instant or not. To put it short I have an instant dislike for the instants.

    The first coffee to become popular in Madurai is the College House Degree Coffee. College House is a large hotel at the Town Hall Road. At the end of the Road is Victoria Edward Hall which was in those days the only hall in Madurai. Hence the road is called Town Hall Road.

    And you know why the hotel was called College House? Because some decades back the property belonged to Madura College (a hundred year plus old educational institution like American College, another hundred year plus old college, where yours truly did his P.U and B.Com). The property was used as a hostel for Madura College. Subsequently the college acquired properties elsewhere and sold this to some one. In honour of the college the person who bought it (Mr.V.K.K. Chettiar family) named it The College House.

    The Coffee Master in College house was very popular. His "degree coffee" was much sought after. In those days rich people would drive in their Hillmans and Fords to have coffee at the College House. It was clearly an addiction and people who tasted it always came back to it.
    There was even a rumour that the Coffee master used to apply some narcoctic paste in the coffee filter and hence the addiction. But it remained a rumour.
    The rumour did not affect the fame of College House coffee.

    Much later the Coffee Master left College House and started his own venture. Rajendra Coffe Bar which after shifting a couple of places moved to Mandayan Asari lane, off Town Hall Road. The cofee in that shop even today has that flavour and aroma. They have a very limited menu in Rajendra Coffee Bar - idli, dosas, vellaiappam etc.

    When you talk about coffee in Madurai you need to particularly mention Visalam Coffee. This became so popular that the man started outlets in a number of places in the city. People thronged to these places. A board "Visalam Coffee" was enough to attract crowd. The promoters then sold some of the shops and got a high price for the goodwill they had created. That was the first time a coffee shop in Madurai sold its "knowhow" and "good will"
    But I personally feel the persons who bought the name and the shop did not live up to the reputation of the original promoters though they do make good sales.
    Now original Visalam Coffee is available only in Goripalayam opposite to American College (you will now remember why American College is so famous; if not go to the beginning of this post and start reading the post again slowly ha ha ha).
    My mother and my wife make really very good coffee. But once in a while I do make a trip to Visalam. Normally I go there on a Saturday afternoon.
    I would rank theirs as the best I have so far tasted. I had been to Singapore. I had taste 20 $ coffee in Starbucks, Coffee Beans and Tea Leaves! But nothing to beat Visalam.
    Their integrity is what I love more than their coffee. When you go there around 745 PM they would have exhausted the "first-round" decoction. They will have a lot of "second-time" decoction. Any coffee vendor would serve coffee and make some quick money. But Visalam has a policy not to serve any second quality drink.
    The taste is also consistent.
    I can tell at the first sip, whether the milk is old, the decoction old, the milk is diluted or there is a problem with the filter. In Visalam the quality has been consistently the same all along.
    Now many good hotels like Meenakshi Bhavan, Murugan Idli and star hotels like Pandyan, Sangam and Taj serve good filter coffee.
    But if you ask me there is nothing like standing right on the street sipping Visalam coffee gazing at the passers by in the busy Goripalayam thoroughfare.

    So next time you visit Madurai make it a point to sip that popular brew.
    Regards,
    Varalotti
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2006
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  2. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    A "good old" mittai-kadai in Madurai !

    My dear Friends,

    I am thrilled that there is a sub-forum for " en iniya arumai ooru Madurai" in my dear I L !

    This is my home inside our home ! As you are already aware ( perhaps to the extent of being bored ), I consider myself still a Maduraikari ( this is preferable to me than the stylish term, Maduraite ). My Piranda mann is my most favourite place, though I have lived in Chennai for a longer span, in my life.

    V R has written about the coffee houses in his inimitable style. To tell you, even now when I go to Madurai, my mother tells me " I know, anyday day you prefer Visalam Coffee to mine !". So she gets it for me in a flask exactly at
    3 P M when a fresh batch is made (ofcourse from the Goripalayam Visalam). For obvious reasons, I cannot go there and drink coffee like how V R has said "standing right on the street sipping Visalam coffee gazing at the passers by in the busy Goripalayam thoroughfare".

    Now, do you not need a sweet-karam to go with coffee ? One of the oldest shops in Madurai is "Original Nagapattinam Mittai Kadai" near the Merku Gopuram , in Melachithirai Veedi. Around 9 A M , Masal Kizangu ( which inspired me with masal mochai - a favourite in I L ) is sold. People throng to buy it and by 10 A M, the stock is exhausted.

    Their sweet, which, according to me, is unparalleled anywhere, is Hot Jangiri & yet another speciality is their halwa. Their Milaku Sevu and Kara sevu are also excellent. They prepare limited quantities of all the above which convinces me, that they pay more attention to quality rather than quantity. As a true Maduraikari, I always think, that is the right attitude to follow in everything, we do !

    So do not miss out on this shop ( true to Madurai spirit, this shop is still small and unassuming to the extent of being missed if you look out for a flashy looking joint), when you come out of the temple.

    Beware, every time I feel homesick ( believe me, I still feel Madurai sick often) I will come here and post - unlike V R, I do not promise that I will not crowd this forum also with my posts.

    Sridhar, I think, you should also not restrict yourself unnecessarily. If we, Maduraikara are not for posts on Madurai, who will write for namma ooru ? It richly deserves a rightful place in the global I L map.

    Love & regards,
    Chithra.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2006
  3. AbhiSing

    AbhiSing Gold IL'ite

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    Sorgamae Enralumm.. Athu Nammoorapolaguma?

    Dear Sridhar Sir

    No wonder that foreigners remember our Madurai. I was similarly amazed by one incident also.

    Last year when I was doing my post graduation here, We had our professor from UK for the Risk Management paper. During self intro:

    VG: Hi Iam .....Indian .....S'pore PR.
    Pro: North or South India?
    VG: South
    Pro: South? Which State?
    VG: (Dont know what he is upto?!!) T.N
    Pro: North/South?
    VG: (Groaning..Why the hell he bothers?!)South
    Pro: Where in South?
    VG: A city called Mad..
    Pro: (interrupting) Are you from Madurai?
    VG: (dazed and speech less) Yep. Thats my place.
    Pro: (with a smile) I have been there to the great temple city and would love to visit again and again.

    I was really amazed and filled with pride that my city is remembered by a foreigner and that too in a foreign country.

    And about the starbucks/coffee bean in Spore...they are for these S'poreans who have never tasted our madurai cofee. ( I get headache when I drink starbucks...).I substitute with coffeemaker and using the coffee powder from India.


    Dear Chitra Mam

    Original nagapattinam Mittai Kadai's Sevu is a favourite not only for me but also for my chinese(Singaporean), and North Indian collegues. In January after my visit to India, I kept a 1 KG Sevu in a box in the pantry and by 3.00pm the box was empty! And I kepy some more next day for those who wanted more.

    This thread is precious place for sharing memories and also a guide for the 'To do'..list during the next visit to madurai for NRIs and NRMs.

    Cheers:wave
    Vijee
     
  4. Vandhana

    Vandhana Silver IL'ite

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    ANother Coffee lover

    Reading about the degree coffee just brought back memories. Though i am not from madurai, i have had my share of degree coffees in kumbakonam. And oh i had a sad time when i first came here and just hated the instant coffees. now by trial and error, i have my own proprietory blend that comes quite close to the filter coffee back home. ( yes i do make traditional filter coffee. no coffee maker for me. i have a pitalai filter since i heard that ,that is the one that gives the best flavor!!)

    Vandhana
     
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  5. gayathriraghu

    gayathriraghu New IL'ite

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    Yes.. could not afford to miss that aromatic coffee

    That was a lovely topic to share during this cold morning. Infact my husband took me to Goripalayam exclusively for that coffee. I also remember that panneer soda (ofcourse Maapillai vinayagar) and the Jigardhanda... which we should never miss at Madurai. Thank you for sharing...
     
  6. savideva

    savideva New IL'ite

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    Namma Madurai - savideva

    Dear friends,
    Varalotti and Chitvsh have given a detailed description of the good old Eating places of Madurai. I wish to Include the very special and popular dish "Jigar Danda" A Unique dessert of Madurai !! I personally do not go for it ; but I know quite a few who are mad about it ?!:-D My daughter for one doesn't miss it whenever she visits Madurai. It is a concoction of delicious icecream, vemicelli and sabja seeds - I believe.
    I know the topic was started with coffee places But I would like to tell the non-veg lovers that there a number Of MESSes Who specialise in seving rare preparations well enjoyed by their customers and there is the ever popular Konar Kadai! (I myself am a strict vegetarian!!!)
    Whatabout the night Parotta stalls and the number of variants they serve - from plain parotta ,ceylon egg parotta to kothu parotta It really is Parottas galore !!!
     
  7. vmur

    vmur Silver IL'ite

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  8. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    My dear SaviDeva & Vidya !

    Now that you both have renewed the life in this thread, I am tempted to wriite about the textiles in Madurai - our own Sungadi & Sellur towels !
    Might end up doing it this week !
    Thankyou, Vidya, for taking the trouble in giving the link.
    Love,
    Chithra.
     
  9. radhavenkatesh

    radhavenkatesh Bronze IL'ite

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    :)

    I have my two best frns kamala and senapaty frm madurai . whn we were studying in gandhigram rural university which is close by to madurai we use to enjoy a lot whn we were in madurai visiting madurai meenakshi temple eating at mahal i dont remember there was a roof garden somewhere after 10 yrs i visited my frns there and found a lot of change in madurai bt few roads dint change i cud make out our house in SS colony KK nagar dint change much but most of the place changed a lot .
    but madurai is really great place and i miss it and my frns so much
     
  10. kb2000

    kb2000 Bronze IL'ite

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    Chit-chat tea

    When i have to been to Madurai in my childhood days i had "chit-chat" tea. After that i never had the same kind of tea.

    Does C know, how to make it and get the same tea as i had in Madurai?

    Thanks in advance
    kb:clap
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2007

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