As the old maxim goes, ‘the best way to live and stay healthy is to eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper’. No matter how much they boast about the health benefits of packaged food, nothing can replace home-made food. Food made at home is both wholesome as well as sumptuous and just the thing one needs to keep oneself well-fuelled during the day.
These days with the demanding and chaotic lifestyle, the least one can do to keep the body healthy and fit is to ensure a complete nutritious meal that is home made and filled with goodness.
Usually we Odias have flattened rice (chuda), puffed rice (mudhi) or Puri with Sabzi. Alternatively bread with eggs along with a glass of milk is also a common breakfast in our part of the country. The alltime favourite side dishes are fresh fruits or juices, oats, poha, cornflakes and buttermilk or lassi. Apart from all the above the most popular and loved breakfast solution is Idli, Upma or Dosa with sambhar and chutney of your choice.
South Indian cuisine has made its way into the hearts of almost every Indian across the globe. In today’s time these dishes are made in almost every household in the country.
The main ingredient of these popular dishes is rice combined with lentils which makes it a healthy and mouthwatering dish. The food is not only delectable and healthy but easy to digest because of the fermentation of rice and lentils. It becomes wholesome because it is eaten with sambhar and chutneys that has a blend of pulses, vegetables and nuts that are essential for the body.
Bhubaneswar also has welcomed the south Indian cuisine whole heartedly. Although it is prepared in every household, the city has a plethora of restaurants in every nook and corner of the city. This is precisely why Coffee Bytes decided to chat with Mr. Mohanan Kuniyil, promoter of Venus group that introduced this cuisine to Odisha way back in 1962-63.
Mr. Mohanan shared his journey with the readers of Coffee Bytes. He said that, “the story of starting the south Indian cuisine happened years back when my father’s younger brother, then a lad of 15 years landed in Bhubaneswar in 1962- 63. He mastered his cooking skills in Kolkata after he was trained unofficially in a small shed run by some relatives and patronised by localities. There were no facilities in Bhubaneswar back then and people hardly knew about south Indian food. In those days the culture of eating outside too did not exist.
Initially my uncle started a small canteen serving Idli, Dosa, Vada and Upma, in the secretariat campus, taking help from south Indian associates working there. After receiving a good response we slowly expanded this endeavour into a small shackle in A.G.chaak which, unfortunately did not do well. After a few days we started the first real south Indian hotel in Kalpana chaak which slowly picked up business. My uncle used to bring me to Bhubaneswar during the vacations but I eventually stayed back after getting involved in running the restaurant with him. I used to look after the financial work of bank transactions and tax payments. From 1976 we never looked back as we were recognised for our food especially with the morning breakfast menu.”
When asked about the strengths of their chain of restaurants he said, “Frankly speaking we started with very nominal rates for all the items. We charged Rs.1.40 for a meal, 60 paisa for a Dosa, 20 paisa for sambhar and extra dahi. Today it is multiplied several times. Our mantra to success is value for money and customer satisfaction. We never compromise on quality or taste. At present we have 3-4 eateries where we serve south Indian breakfast and meals. We have a set of loyal customers who only want to eat at our joints. A Venus Inn regular will never go to Priya or elsewhere as they are habituated to our taste and that is our USP. We train our chefs extensively but yet then the taste changes within our restaurants as we purposely want to keep it that way.”
When we decided to shift base to Bapuji Nagar as it was centrally located, we were greatly discouraged. Since the restaurant was too close to the railway track we were told that we would lose customers owing to the disturbance. But we continued nevertheless and our intuition paid off. This place was lucky for us. Our goodwill and customer satisfaction helped us to sustain and from then, there was no looking back.
By Aditi Panda