Chennai being one of the most loved cosmopolitan cities, students and professionals alike come here to nurture their education, skills or make a livelihood in the city. As much as it is pretty black and white when it comes to daily life as at the end of the day, we are all crushed under the wheels of our run-of-the mill routine.
No matter where we are from, at the end of the day, we hardly have the time or the energy left to indulge in our favourite activities like cooking. Especially for those staying alone, there is no one at home to bring back the nostalgia of our traditional recipes of our grandmother's times.
Kudos to all who still gracefully manage time out of their busy schedule and indulge in the making of their traditional dishes. But for those who still feel deprived of good food, DC goes across the city to find out the several oases of various authentic cuisines who have been keeping the age-old, unique recipes alive.
Mulchandani brothers’ first success was in Karachi when they won people’s hearts through their special chaats. As destiny would have it, partition brought them to India where they found their new home. With inception in Mumbai, their food joint Kailash Parbat has already created a niche in the restaurant industry and they have already carved their presence in city and now they have an outlet in Adyar.
Kamlesh Mulchandani, one of the forces behind the restaurant, shares their USP with DC. “We have been following the same recipes since 1952 and here too our main focus is on our signature items like Mumbai street food, chaats and authentic North Indian food including Sindhi cuisine. As for the old methods being used here, we still follow the procedure of slow cooking overnight and do not rely on pressure cooking. The charcoal and wood flavour adds to the authenticity. As for presentation, just to keep up with modern times, we have revamped the cutlery and now we provide street food carts to go with Panipuri/ Bhelpuri accordingly, which enhances the overall experience.”
Girish Vyas of Shri Rajasthani Dhaba in Anna Nagar says, “In order to preserve the authentic taste in the dishes, we get North-Indian variety of spices”. Although the classic Rajasthani thali and Daal Bhati pride themselves on being the signature dishes of this 17 year old restaurant, Punjabi food has also found its way into the restaurant- thanks to the new generation.
“When we started out, it was a pure Rajasthani restaurant but somehow the food items did not click with the children. Then we started experimenting and we introduced paneer masala… and that was an instant hit among the kids”.
When it comes to Bengali food, Petuk seems to be the one-stop destination for people, not just in the IT sector on OMR but also for people coming from various nooks and corners of the city with a sudden craving for some ‘kobji dubiye bhuribhoj’ (till one’s wrist in food).
Petuk believes in serving with honesty. “Our menu changes every day and we don’t go for deep freezing. It’s all fresh food being served daily.”
The restaurant that fares the highest in the Bengali food according to the latest Zomato ratings, at the time of writing this article, is a homely place on Kamarajar street in Kandanchavadi. Another two outlets are in Perungudi and Navallur.
As for the authenticity maintained here, Petuk asserts, “Katla kalia, fish paturi are still made adhering strictly to their traditional recipes. And we have efforts on to make these dishes live on as not many restaurants will serve these following items which are very intrinsic to Bengali cuisine like mutton dakbunglow, mourola maccher tok, neem begun, lau chingri, doi potol- how can we not relish them?”
Talk about Punjabi food, the Mecca of Punjabi food is Bhangra, located within the Mayajaal Complex, ECR. Known for holding fast to authenticity and an averseness to having any other cuisine on the menu card, the restaurant is genuinely an all food lovers’ delight.
Navtej Singh, the force behind the restaurant, says, “When we started, we decided it would always be a place dedicated to serving only Punjabi food and not venture into any other cuisines. We do not serve even cold drinks. We have our very own masala lime and lassi!”
He adds, “More than anything, we do not want to be there just as another restaurant with Punjabi food also on the menu. Serving pure home-like Punjabi food is our priority. Considering the Chennai weather, we do not use the amount of ghee or spices that we use back in Punjab.”
Patrons keep going back to the restaurant to satiate their cravings for butter chicken, chholey bhature , mutton rogan josh and chur chur naan.
Ranvir Shah of Amdavadi restaurant, T. Nagar which has been serving authentic Gujarati food shares, “For us, food is not just eating but also bonding. People bond over food. We also allow space for discussion related to literary topics.”One thing exclusive to them is their one-square meal which is just their version of Gujarati thali.
Although it goes without saying that the residents here get authentic, home-made South Indian meals, but there could be days when that may not happen. No worries for there is Thambi Vilas with multiple outlets in Chennai.
Arun Prashanth Bacthavatsalam of Thambi Vilas shares the restaurant’s journey from being a confectionary bakery in Singapore to spreading its wings to India and now it has become a sought after destination for authentic South Indian cuisines.
“Reviving the old staples like Goli soda, etc., is our priority. And we pay utmost attention to quality of ingredients rather than the quantity. We do not use western spices and we are trying to be as authentic as possible in terms of recipes”, says Arun, who asserts using only fresh ingredients and not stored ones.