Roadside Food Scoop : Nei Podi Dosai in Vandi Kadai and More

Whether it is the spicy grill at a small eatery in Royapettah, or the lip-smacking biryani at a way-side restaurant, tiny joints across namma Chennai are the stuff that culinary legends are made of. We count on them when it’s a little too late in the night, when bigger restaurants have shut, or when we need to treat our friends and are a little low on cash. However, not many of us take the time to appreciate the men behind the stoves at these eateries, neither do we consider them ‘Chefs’ in the formal sense. However, like this one person who spoke to us said, “If being a Chef is about cooking delightful food, these people are some of the best we have.”

Ravi Anna’s Kadai

In T Nagar, near Brilliant Tutorials is the legendary kaiyendhi bhavan, which was closed for a while, but is back in action again. “Known for their sambar vadai, podi dosa and idiyappam kurma, they even have a fan following on Orkut!

The name was never official. But the man who runs this way-side eatery behind Pondy Bazaar, near Brilliant Tutorials, is so popular that his shop is usually termed the “Ravi annan kadai”, or to be politically correct, the Brilliant Tutorials Kaiyendhi Bhavan. Around 1,000 people, from businessmen in their Audis to the daily-wage labourers, visit this eatery, now 35 years old,  everyday to get a piece of  their now legendary ‘Nei Podi Dosai’, which in a more sophisticated setting would be called the Ghee podi roast.  Open from 6.30am till 11.30pm, the vegetarian tiffin is made by four cooks, across shifts.

Tambaram Mama kadai

At West Mambalam, opposite the Ayodhya Mandapam on Arya Gowda Road is a small cart‐shop run by a Tambram mama in the evenings. “Super delicious sundal, bajjis and vadais are available here.

Monisha Tiffin Centre

A range of breakfast options at Monisha Tiffin Centre on Big Street.

Nine years ago when R. Yuvaraj, a manager with Tamil Nadu Minerals, retired the first option that crossed his mind to spend his post-retirement days was to start a small eatery. And that was the beginning of Sri Monisha Fast Foods on Venkatachalapathi Street in Triplicane.

The joint serves homemade South Indian delicacies and is run by sexagenarian Yuvaraj and his entire family. While his wife Y. Saraswathi takes care of the kitchen, his son and son-in-law take care of the service section.

“Post-retirement I found this an easy option as the food business could be started with minimum capital,” says Yuvaraj. “I couldn’t manage alone, so I roped in my son and son-in-law. They both are graduates and were employed in private sectors but quit to devote themselves full-time to this venture.”

The eatout only opens for breakfast (7 a.m. to 10.30 a.m.) and dinner (7 to 10.30 p.m.). It, however, makes up its afternoon business from its second outlet and coffee shop on Big Street, where variety rice is served from 11.30 a.m. to 2 p.m. This is a kaiyendhi bhavan, so customers are expected to hold their plates in their hands. The difference, though, is the fact that this is an indoor restaurant, not a roadside cart. Takeaway is also available.
What we like about this eat out is the hygienic environment, plus the food is much cheaper. The joint is also equipped with an industrial version of Aquaguard.

“Pongal, chappathi and parotta are the fast-moving items,” says Yuvaraj, adding, “We cater to around 700 customers per day. We charge 60 per cent of the actual cost of other hotels and provide hygienic home food. This is our USP which brings us many customers.”

Triplicane Area

The onion uthappam and rava dosai at the Vadivelu Tiffin Centre near the Big Street Bus Stop opposite the Zanda Market is one huge draw.

The delicious buns with channa stuffing at Masala Buns, the shack outside Chennai Fashions Shop on Big Street

Mangalore Bondas at a street shop at the junction of TP Koil Street and Singarachari Street

Mylapore, Adyar and Tiruvanmiyur Areas

The medhu pakodas, masala vadas and mini samosas sold at a small sweet shop diagonally opposite the Jain Temple is known to have caused traffic jams in the afternoons.

Dosas and parottas at a small shop next to Kalathi Foods, known for their popular rose milk.

Jannal Kadai (christened by foodies in the city for easy reference), adjacent to the temple on the street that leads to the South Mada Street, to place your order for their unique chutneys.

The well‐known bajji kadai near Adyar Bakery in Adyar is a must mention. “The best and yet to be beaten item there are their cutlets,

Moving on to Thiruvanmiyur, adjacent to the Marundeeshwar Temple, is the small Lakshmana Iyer Mess run by Chef Shanmugam. Their medu vadai and poori‐masala are a must try. “Their coconut getti chutney is the best.” You go anytime of the year on any day, the chutney will have its taste and texture.

If you have experiences to share, please do comment to encourage the efforts of this tiffin centres.

Posted on January 5, 2012, in Attractions, Food, Restaurants and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Cheap and tasty..
    But hygiene factor 😛
    note about those mushrrom and masala poori shops !

  2. Yes, we have always been talking about the hygiene factor but can we be assured that the other hotels are thumbs up to hygiene? Thankfully we never get to see the kitchen of these hotels. :D.

    • yes well said and damn true, we never see how kitchen works inside HYATT ?? we don’t even know if the chef sneezes and brings the dish 😛 😛 😛

  3. Once I went inside a kitchen of a mediocre veg restaurant. It was hard for me to stand there. Hygiene was the only thing missing there. Period. 🙂

  4. Hey Admin, this is Awesome…..Salute n big thanks to you…..Am a big food lover…but these Hotels/buffets/Restaurants have changed the perceptions of fooding in chennai these days…but the above collections of places will take you heaven with not much in pockets.

    “Sometimes Taste and Hygiene are two different ball games”

    I agree on hygiene…but believe me Taste will make you compromise!!

  5. The brilliant tutorials kaiyendhi Bhavan has now shifted to Natesan park off G N Chetty road. You can find it on Google maps marked “Anna Dosa”

  6. krishna maya

    One Restaurant were Hygiene is maintained inside Kitchen is Sangeetha in GN Chetty Road

  7. krishna maya

    Regarding Ravi Anna’s kadai i do not think it is back. One New Veg restaurant had come up there in a building opp to Brilliant tutorials . I do not think they will allow Ravi kadai to Business there.

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