Get Authentic Traditional Food Prepared By Our Ammas and Maamis in Star Hotels of Chennai
Do you have amma, paati or anyone you know who can churn out lip smacking traditional dishes ?
Our star hotels are hiring homemakers to give our own dishes an authentic touch. Several hotels in the city have begun to realise that the best way to give their dishes ‘a mother’s touch’ is to, well, get her on the job. Chamundeshwari amma, Rathnam amma, Savithri maami – these are just some of the homemakers that star hotels across Tamil Nadu have hired in their south Indian specialty restaurants to give their dishes an authentic, ‘homemade touch’ .
Around four months ago, Sheraton Park Hotel and Towers in Chennai got Rathnam amma on board for their south Indian restaurant Dakshin. Rathnam, who until a few years ago, cooked for her extended family of 15 using firewood, now spends four hours a day at the hotel, whipping up filter coffee and evening snacks for the guests. She also makes two dishes a day for the menu. “Her coffee has become so famous that guests ask for Rathnam amma’s coffee ,” says chef Harish K. “It’s tough explaining to guests that Sundays are her days off and so they have to drink coffee made by one of us.”
And Rathnam doesn’t even drink coffee. “I just know exactly how to make it. I don’t write down any proportions, I go with the gut feel,” says the 58-yearold , diamonds sparkling in her ears. Rathnam changed the restaurant’s idli batter ingredients and measurements. And chefs say that the idlis have never tasted better.
At Hotel Savera, Savithri maami, a 68-year-old Brahmin homemaker, has been on contract for several years to prepare her specialty evening snacks such as adai, murukku and kozhukattai to the guests of Malgudi restaurant. “My mother-in-law and I still go in to make the dishes,” says Vijayalakshmi, 36, Savithri’s daughter-in-law , who is learning the ropes from her.
Hotels also bring in the mom-paati brigade to learn the intricacies of various cuisines. Three months ago, at Sheraton, executive chef Praveen Anand brought in homemaker Fathima Anwar to teach his team Tamil Muslim cuisine.
She taught them to make thikkadi (dumplings made of rice flour and served with mutton curry), thalicha chor (ghee rice) and thalcha (a kind of mutton sambar), all typical of the Tamil Muslims who live in Madurai. “I have been making the dishes for more than 12 years for my husband’s family. So I was not nervous teaching the chef,” says Fathima.
“We try and incorporate some of these dishes when we have special banquets,” says chef Praveen Anand, adding that ‘aachis’ or older women from the Chettiyar community have guided him and his team.
At the Taj Gateway Hotel in Madurai, Chamundeshwari amma still can’t believe she is on the payroll of a five-star hotel after spending 37 years behind a stove at home. “I have four grown-up children,” says the 49-year-old . “And they are all excited for me.” Most of the Taj Gateway properties across the country have hired homemakers such as Chamundeshwari to create authentic, region-specific food.
Chamundeshwari is at the hotel every day from 11am to 4pm, preparing all the side dishes for the thali. “She’s a hit,” says chef Ashok Kumar. “We brought her in because our guests demand homestyle food. After we brought her in four months ago, our guests keep asking for amma’s thali.”