Nithyathambool on Second Avenue has been in business since 1979
The tiny green kiosk, measuring 4 x 4, is misleading at first glance. For all you get to see is perfectly polished brass and copperware neatly stacked on the shelves and nothing else. Take a closer look, and you will see sparkling stainless steel boxes containing various ingredients for paan-making and a bowl full of betel leaves ready to be wrapped into a paan/beeda. Welcome to the famous beeda shop at Besant Nagar.
Nithyathambool, on Second Avenue, Besant Nagar (right at the entrance to Eden), has been functioning from this kiosk at the same location since 1979 and doing a roaring business. V.M. Ghouse (better known as Mohan) got into the beeda business soon after he quit his job in Enfield in 1979. “I used to taste a wide variety of paan in different shops in the city when I was employed. Later, I learnt to make them myself and, when I decided to quit my job, I took to this business and set up shop in this locality with an initial investment of Rs.5,000,” he says.
“My clientele base is my strength,” says Mohan.
Says Ganesh, a customer, “There are many restaurants in Besant Nagar and I frequently eat out with my family. And dinner is incomplete without Mohan’s beeda.”
“I buy a beeda from Mohan every day. What is unique here is that it is prepared with branded ingredients and under hygienic conditions. He adds only ayurvedic ingredients and nothing else,” says Ragunath, a young businessman and another regular customer.
Here, you get three types of beeda — plain beeda, sweet beeda and special beeda. “Beeda is eaten after a meal as it promotes digestion. All the ingredients that go into its making have health benefits. Adhimathuram relieves stomach disorders, katha heals mouth ulcers and is good for the skin, gulkand is good for digestion and betel leaf is good for all round health,” he explains. To make special beeda, one meeta patha (sweet betel from Kolkata, Rs.5 per leaf), is washed (stem and tip of leaf removed) and placed on a tray. On this lime and katha are spread. Fennel seeds, papaya muraba, gulkand, adhimathuram, mint chutney, betel nut, chopped dry nut, a small cardamom and clove is placed over this leaf. Meeta patha is then wrapped/folded like a cone and packed in a plastic pouch and handed over to customers.
According to customers’ taste, sugar coated dry ginger, orange peel, dates, badam or sara dhal is added to the special beeda. One can also choose either plain betel nut or vannaathipakku (soft and chewy betel nut roasted in ghee and sugar coated). A few years ago, Mohan also learnt to make kulfi and started selling it here. His home-made kulfi is a big hit among customers who stop by with their children in tow. One can also get brass, bronze, copper and silverware polished here. And that is the reason one finds so many brass artefacts displayed in the kiosk.
And that is not all. As you chew your beeda, you can also listen to live music! In the evenings, Mohan’s friend Vaidhyanathan sings old Tamil film and devotional songs. Chandrababu, TMS and Ghantasala hits are beautifully rendered by this 63-year-old man. And there’s news for biriyani-lovers! Mohan takes orders for Moghlai Biriyani on weekends (ph: 93810 12742). Mutton biriyani costs Rs. 970 per kilo and chicken biriyani Rs. 775.CHITRA DEEPA A.