Chennai, or as it used to be called Madras, is the capital of Tamil Nadu in South India. The majority of the population is Hindu, and as they don’t believe in eating meat so it’s a great place to come to sample vegetarian cooking.
Chef Bobby Chinn is on a food pilgrimage, his mission to eat and learn. He will be cooking 3 dishes, the first a selection of chutneys and pickles with home cooking expert Tamilarasi, next up South India's most loved Idli Sambar, and thirdly Bobby joins Chef Siddique from the Fisherman's Cove Restaurant to make spicy grilled prawns, Karivepilla Era Varuval.
The programme begins with a traditional South Indian wedding. Not only are the bride and groom obliged to perform certain ceremonies, they are also obliged to provide their guests with a certain variety of foods. And today’s wedding banquet is no disappointment, with dishes including rice, sambar, rassam, sweets, and curd - all lovingly served up on the traditional banana leaves.
After a quick visit to Chennai's famous Shiva temple, Kapapleshwara, Bobby joins Chennai's Queen of Chutneys'- Tamilarasi. Together they will be making 3 South Indian chutneys on a local rooftop, with a backdrop of the temple itself. The dishes are vegetable pickle, fresh coconut chutney, and sweet mango chutney.
Next up, we find Bobby at the local food markets. He is sourcing the produce for his next dish, Idli Sambar. The sambar is a staple in South India and is basically a dhal, boiled lentils, tempered with a mix of cooked spices and fresh ingredients. Idli is a steamed rice cake and is taken as an accompaniment. To make Idli Sambar Bobby has commandeered a street cart and an assistant. He has a job to do the catering on a Kollywood film set. The film industry in Tamil Nadu is huge. It's colloquially known as "Kollywood"’ as it is based in the Kodambakkan district of Chennai. In 2007 alone, a record 105 movies were released. Bobby meets one of its biggest stars Suriya.
Bobby continues his journey and heads for the coast. He is joining chef Siddique from the Fisherman's Cove Restaurant to cook a seafood dish. They visit the local beach where fisherman unload their fresh morning catch. Then, it's off to market where Bobby and Siddique buy tiger prawns. Together, Bobby and Siddique cook Karivepilla Era Varuval, grilled prawns in an exotic mixture of spices.
Chennai is a world famous centre for yoga and before leaving the city Bobby attends a class with 80 year old guru Dr. Asana Andiappan. The Dr gives him some tips for a happy and healthy life and introduces Bobby to one of his nutritionists and one of his disciples who subsists on a diet of bananas and coconuts alone.
Armed with the knowledge that if he eats only a coconut and banana a day he will live a long and happy life, Bobby hits the local Merina Beach to contemplate his time in Chennai. He ends up putting his future in the hands of a dubious fortune teller – a parrot!