What Is 'Thattu Vadai Set' – Salem's Go-To Snack

A summer afternoon looks same in almost every city. You’ll see children heading back to their homes from schools, vendors selling food and carts strategically placed on the streets. However, the general difference is the type of food you find in these carts.

You will find chhole kulche or sweet potato in Delhi and vada pav and bhel puri outside Mumbai’s schools, but the streets of Salem has something else to offer. The famous street food staple of this town is the Thattu Vadai Set which can easily be identified as South Indian papri chaat.

The dish comprises salad made with carrots, beetroots, cucumber, onion and raw mango along with thattu vadais and crunchy crisps topped with garlic and tomato chutney. Thattu Vadai Set has become the most popular street food in the city. You can find it in every nook and corner of the city. Not because it has become popular, but the dish has a history that’s worth knowing.

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It is said that the dish got its popularity from Yercaud, a popular hill station in the district. There was a local merchant named Balakrishnan who started selling thattu vadais and murruku to visitors. Gradually, he started adding innovation to the dish. Sometimes it was homemade tomato chutney while other time it was a salad made with seasonal vegetables. Slowly the dish gained popularity in other cities and hill stations. Every vendor used to make their own versions and soon it became popular across the district.

The dish with a hint of both chilly and sweet chutneys is only available between 4 pm and 10 pm. The thattu vadai set is priced between Rs 10 and 20.

In case you can’t reach to Salem to relish the dish, here is an easy recipe: