Chennai’s street food ventures are remarkably resilient during the pandemic


There isn’t a stopping Chennai’s small meals ventures: from Sundari akka’s Marina seaside barbecue to Mylapore’s Jannal bajji store. Regardless of months of lockdowns, and all of the challenges related to COVID-19, they’re busy once more. We be part of the queue

Typically, you crave a samosa and also you simply must eat it. It doesn’t matter what.

Throughout the preliminary months of lockdown, the thought struck Balakrishnan Yadav, who runs Bombay Lassi on Ellis Street. He drove to a distant retailer to purchase a samosa for ₹35.

As restrictions have been eased, his common prospects started to name him, asking when he deliberate to reopen. When he did, they regularly returned. At the moment, Balakrishnan is glad that each branches of his store, specialising in samosas, carrot halwa, kachori, and jalebi, are again on their ft.

A number of of town’s most iconic street-food ventures appear to be doing effectively regardless of recurring lockdowns. Whilst giants within the enterprise battle to maintain their kitchens working, the small avenue distributors appear to be remarkably resilient.

Who yearns for rose milk from a nook retailer throughout a pandemic? Lots of people Chennai, judging by Kalathy’s enterprise over these previous few weeks. The rose milk served within the retailer, which is over 90 years previous, is synonymous with Mylapore; a lot so that folks have been asking for all of it by means of the lockdown.

“We’re doing fairly effectively,” says Okay Mani, who’s from the third technology of the founding household. “Individuals proceed to return for our rose milk, particularly from 11 am to midday and four pm to 7 pm.” He provides: “If there’s a dip is gross sales, it is because of chilly climate and rains; not the pandemic.”

Jannal Bajji store on Ponnambala Vathiyar Road in Mylapore, is functioning with renewed vigour. The outlet, that capabilities out of the window of an 80-year-old home, was closed for 40 days when Sivaramakrishnan, the founder’s brother handed away on account of COVID-19.

Defying all odds, they reopened earlier this month, and the famed window even has a contemporary coat of blue paint. In pre-pandemic days, for a lot of in Chennai, a go to to the bajji store was necessary if we even stepped within the path of Mylapore. The ritual continues.

Okay Sargunanathan, the brother-in-law of the founder, says the eatery continues to serve its signature smooth idlis, ghee pongal, crisp vadas and translucent pooris, to not point out their sought-after onion chutney.

At Bombay Lassi, Ellis Road

At Bombay Lassi, Ellis Street
| Picture Credit score:

The seashores should be abandoned, however there is no such thing as a stopping Sundari ‘akka’, whose stall was all the time filled with prospects on the Marina. She is now understanding of her residence kitchen at Lock Nagar, Chepauk. “Earlier than Corona, I went in an auto to Kasimedu to purchase fish each morning; now I am going with my son on his bike; that’s the one distinction,” laughs Sundari. “I now cook dinner smaller portions; that too solely on order-basis.”

Clients name her to put their order the day past. Her menu is straightforward: fish curry, barbecue, prawns fry, squid fry, rasam, and rice. “I exploit fish that’s out there contemporary: as we speak, I’m making paarai curry,” she explains over telephone, her voice coming in snatches owing to her stirring the simmering curry in between. “I’m getting a name. It is perhaps a buyer,” she indicators off.

Guru Mess’s mutton and hen biryani are actually promoting out quick, due to folks driving previous the restaurant on ECR.

Situated in Mamallapuram and identified for Chettinad-style meals cooked on wood-fired stoves, the restaurant initially suffered a setback since most of their prospects are vacationers, based on Okay Pandian, the proprietor. However issues are trying up now.

C Kunhiraman Basic Shops in Royapuram too, is “limping again to normalcy”, based on Akilesh Baskaran, one of many managing companions of the store that makes legendary mango ice-cream.

Meals blogger Shabnam Kamil has been documenting her experiences with these meals ventures on her Fb and Instagram account, Mytrystwithfood. She admits that it did take lots of deliberation on her half to step out of residence, at first.

She went to Gopaul Dairy at George City, identified for its bun-butter-jam. After which to Thanjavur Army Lodge, Park City. Then Kunhiraman’s. Then Sundari akka’s. Each the place she went, she noticed lengthy queues.

“Individuals are going to locations they have been all the time loyal to; that they belief,” she says. And in a smaller joint like these, Shabnam feels there’s a sense of confidence as one can see the meals being ready proper in entrance of them.

Eating places have additionally upped their recreation. “Kattayan (Thanjavur Army Lodge) is over 100 years previous; the proprietor fashioned a WhatsApp group, which he updates with meals images and even quick movies from the kitchen,” she says. Who can resist piping scorching mutton pulao?” Lastly, Shabnam drove to Kattayan to gather her order.

She has extra locations on her checklist. “Individuals are keen to go to most of them,” she says. “Initially, I assumed I used to be the loopy sort,” she laughs. “Appears like I’m not alone.”

(With inputs by Chitradeepa Anantharam)

That is the fourth in a seven-part sequence on Chennai and its folks, in lockdown, celebrating 381 years of resilience.


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