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Bangalore breakfast in Delhi...

A hearty breakfast is the foundation of a fruitful day, or so the wise tell us. Now Delhiites have the chance to enjoy a breakfast that's both hearty and sumptuous at the Marvellous MTR Festival currently on at Hyatt Regency, reports SU MITRA SENAPATY... .

IT IS easy to see why people who relish good food love MTR - Mavalli Tiffin Room. The kitchens are spotlessly clean, and the place even invites you to inspect for yourself the standards of hygiene. Their magic formula to conquer the palate remains the same even after 79 years of serving pure and perfect foods!

"We have never found it necessary to change the recipes - or even the menu, for that matter! Masala dosa, rice and rava idlis, kharabath, bisibelebath, vada, and among sweets, Mysore pak, dumrote, payasam and chandrahara - they are still the same," says Sadananda Maiya, Chairman and Managing Director, MTR Foods Limited.

Incredibly, in an age when people have no time to wait without honking at traffic signals, a daily Bangalore sight is the huge queue all day long at MTR's. Thousands of customers consider it worthwhile to wait for their turn of delectable breakfast, lunch, evening snacks, and dinner. Now, Delhiites, if you haven't been to the garden city and enjoyed the phenomenal MTR food, here's the opportunity. Visit Dehli Ka Aangan - Dehli Tiffin Room, for the duration of the Marvellous MTR Festival until January 27 - at Hyatt Regency in south Delhi for a great South Indian breakfast, lunch and dinner. MTR Foods, which grew out of a nondescript `tiffin room' is hoping to find a place at dinner tables throughout India and overseas as well. In fact MTR has ambitious plans for eventually becoming the McDonald's of Indian food.

"We will open franchisee restaurants in India and abroad," says Sadananda Maiya, an Udipi Brahmin and an engineer by profession. A moderately priced, hearty `thali' meal costs Rs. 75 at MTR and it has to be paid for in advance to a cashier sitting in a grilled enclosure. Alcohol and meat are not served, and credit cards are not accepted. Despite the lack of frills, MTR is a cultural icon, known for food that is wholesome and tasty. Regular patrons include movie stars and top politicians, who stand in line waiting for a table.

MTR food at Hyatt Regency in New Delhi.

Twelve of MTR's best chefs are present in Hyatt's kitchens, to ensure the `Mavalli' standards of cleanliness and pure authentic food. While sampling the lavish MTR spread, it is evident that their standardized content and taste remains the same, be it in Delhi or Bangalore. As expected, there is a difference in prices, but since you just cannot get better idli, dosa and vada any where else in town, head straight for Dehli Tiffin Room, perhaps as early as seven in the morning, when the breakfast service starts to move.

Our recommendation is the Rava Idli and Kape (South Indian filter coffee). You can check out the famous Chandrahara as well. As a tribute to 1948's blockbuster Kannada movie "Chandrahara", the Maiya family created this pastry-like mixture of khoya, spiced with ghee and cloves and served with sweet, thickened milk. MTR might have remained just a famous restaurant but for a twist of fate.

When Prime Minister Indira Gandhi imposed emergency rule in1975, restaurants were subjected to stringent price controls. The Maiyas shut their restaurant, saying they would rather close than compromise on food quality to conform to low prices. The Emergency rate was 10 paisa for idli and 50 paisa for dosa. To keep busy during the Emergency, the Maiyas had their workers prepare food mixes. The timing couldn't have been better. Bangalore was booming and MTR was a hit with both local people and visitors. Soon the Maiyas found themselves as pioneers in the ready-to-eat sector, with a range of sambar, rasam, and chutney powders, instant idli, dosa, and other mixes which were sold at retail outlets all over Bangalore, then the country and now across the globe. The latest is ready-to-eat curries like palak paneer, chana masala and more - a boon for those who don't want to cook or cannot cook! To help you cope with the cold winter, MTR has just launched in the Delhi market, four varieties of 100 percent natural soup concentrates in Tomato, Mulligatawny, Spicy Tomato, and Spinach and Carrot varieties.

But to get the real MTR taste, head for the Dehli Tiffin Room and check out the Maiya family's specials - masala dosa, kharabath, rava idli, medu vada, chandrahara and filter coffee. It will make your day.

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