Dishing it out Food

Blue chip eats

V. Sivakumar at Maha Chips Photo: Athira M.   | Photo Credit: Athira M.



When the chips were down, what came to V. Sivakumar’s rescue was banana chips. From being a street vendor of banana chips or wafers, the self-made businessman now runs a flourishing business enterprise, Maha Chips; a name that has become synonymous with wafers of different varieties.

The busy shop on Padmavilasom Temple, near Pazhavangadi Ganapathy Temple, is also where the city now shops for snacks, savouries and sweets. Another branch of Maha Chips is opposite Padmatheertham Pond, and then there is Maha Boli, where you get bolis hot off the tawa. Maha Chips has also opened in Dubai as Al Maha Chips. The 10-year-brand and its proprietor Sivakumar’s story is an inspiring one.

A native of Nagercoil, he arrived in the city with his parents and four siblings at the age of nine. “Conditions back home were so bad that we decided to come here in search of work,” he says. The school dropout worked with his father at a cycle repairing shop at Killippalam followed by a stint as a lottery ticket vendor. “Then I began working as a helper in a shop making mixture and snacks at Chala. I used to get Rs. 5.50 as my daily wages. Soon I learnt the tricks of the trade and started making chips, mixture and many snacks and savouries. I started helping my brother who was in the same business. Four years later, he gave me some money to buy a push cart. Thus, at the age of 19, I started making and selling chips on my push cart. For 13 years I operated near the eastern entrance of Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple,” he says with immense pride.

Couple of failed attempts later, Maha Chips finally clicked. “I kept on trying to open a shop, but would incur losses and was back on the street with my cart. But my fortune changed after sometime. I didn’t give up at any point and there was this urge to keep experimenting and explore new areas,” says the 46-year-old.

Naturally his experimentation was on banana wafers. He introduced banana chips in multiple flavours (masala, onion, ginger and garlic), along with sweet banana chips, and the ‘long’ and ‘finger’ varieties. There are banana wafers coated with garlic, crushed chilli and salt; masala chips come garnished with onion, chilli, garlic, ginger, masala powder and salt; ginger chips, not always available, come dressed in pepper, crushed ginger, green chilli and salt. “We offer an impressive range of wafers but it is the common banana chips that is always in demand,” he says. Also for sale are colocasia (chembu), breadfruit (sheemachakka) and bitter gourd wafers. Once the wafers caught on, he launched different kinds of mixture.

Then came halwa – 19 of them. In addition to the usual jackfruit, mango and milk halwa, he sells rice, pineapple, pista, grapes, cashew and so on. All are made in the kitchen behind the shop and on a floor above it.

Boli, the favourite dessert of the capital city, was next. In November last, he opened Maha Boli, where hot bolis are sold along with traditional eats such as elayappam, athirasam, therali, unniyappam and neyyappam. Delicious Ambalappuzha paal payasam is the latest addition.

“There was a time when we didn’t have enough to eat. May be that is why I can’t stop myself from trying new things in food. I have many plans for Maha Chips. And I have a dream – to open a vegetarian hotel, a huge one. I always dream big, you know…”

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 12:35:13 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Food/success-story-of-v-sivakumar-who-runs-maha-chips/article8365331.ece

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