Food

This sundal shop in Mylapore serves healthy yet delicious snacks

Prashanth Bala leads a double life. If the mornings are spent answering phone calls and analysing case studies at his office, the evenings are spent calling up customers with a gentle: “Sundal sappadringala, ma?” right outside his house in CP Kovil Street, Mylapore, where he has set up a stall.

An IT employee, Prashanth was flirting with the idea of establishing his own startup. He was mulling over the prospect for a brief while, but nothing came of it. A couple of bad suggestions later, he zeroed in on a “non-commercial” business plan — of starting a sundal stall.

“People suggested that I start a bajji shop. But I was particular about avoiding oily snacks and junk food and almost every street has a bajji-bonda or a sandwich shop. I thought: why not a sundal shop? I discussed with my parents and wife, and we started it,” says Prashanth, while scooping up a small batch of kozhukattai.

This sundal shop in Mylapore serves healthy yet delicious snacks

Taste of the past

Prashanth lives in the past. His stall, he says, is an attempt to tap into nostalgia — where customers can have a bite of “forgotten food items”. By forgotten, he means healthy yet delicious snacks such as sundal,pidi kozhukattai, vella adai and uppu adai to mention a few — all under ₹20.

Ask him if he wants to capitalise on the Navaratri season and he disagrees, saying, “The idea was to my own startup. I wanted to walk the talk. That is it. We initially began with two varieties of sundal, but the stall picked up in the second week.” He has been managing the space, thanks to the early morning shift at his office.

All in the family

His wife Krithika, also employed, looks after the business in his absence. The cooking is done by Prashanth’s mother, Saraswathy, who dedicates close to three hours for preparation each day. A volume of one kilogram of sundal is made every day, with karuppu kadalai being an exception. “People generally prefer karuppu kadalai, so we invariably prepare atleast a kilogram extra.”

This sundal shop in Mylapore serves healthy yet delicious snacks

It has only been a month since the stall took form, but the response has been reasonably good. He remembers getting a bulk order from a business firm, just weeks after setting up.

“I think customers like the taste. We have been seeing regulars,” he says, adding, “We have received mixed feedback too. A customer once said that the kozhukattai was uncooked in the middle.”

Prashanth does not have a plan to expand, at least not yet. But he hopes to build a strong customer base. “I am thinking of coming up with Kerala-styled snacks because they are good for health. Of course, all this depends on the reception,” he adds.

In this column, we explore the street foods of Chennai


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Printable version | Dec 5, 2021 9:15:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/a-steaming-bowl-of-nostalgia/article29618599.ece

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