Anand Bhuvan bats firmly for authentic South Indian cuisine

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At the age of 12, Madhav Nayak was sparked with fire while working for military canteen in Pune. He stayed there till he turned into the chief cook. Finally, his reckoning came when he shifted to Bombay in the year 1931. His innings in Bombay was not all that easy in the beginning. He worked in what was then called Victoria Terminus (VT). He gradually picked up skills in cooking dishes from the South Indian cuisine. Subsequently, he shifted to Matunga where he was the chief cook in a little known hotel. Finally his career took to the road when he took over a Gujarati hotel Anandi Bhuvan in 1946. The hotel was rechristened as Anand Bhuvan and is now under the control of third generation Nayaks.
Having introduced the South Indian variety of idlis and dosas the transformation was complete from Gujarati thali hotspot to a corner for South Indian delicacies. It is currently under the aegis of second generation hotelier Haridas Nayak. Haridas is ably assisted by his two sons Pritesh and Prajnesh.
Haridas was forthcoming about the flow of events as the family tree keeps growing. He recalled that in the earlier days that were close to end of the British era people who were knowledgeable about cooking used to frequent the hotel. “My focus has never been on competition or one-upmanship. We ensured that we served authentic south Indian dishes. Our focus was on two things, namely quality and authenticity. This has stood us in good stead over the years.”
“That apart we also are particular about hygiene. Right now from our stables you can order Urdu dosa, set dosa, neer dosa and tawa dosa. In the rice variety you can order bissiblla bath. In recent times we have also come out with GSB thali,” he narrated. Connoisseurs also said that the filter coffee served at the hotel was unbeatable.
When queried about expansion plans, he said, “We believe that to maintain the authenticity of food you should have a family person running the kitchen. We are keen on maintaining authenticity. As time goes by, when the new generation comes of age we can think about expansion. Right now it can wait. Our family knows the A to Z of cooking. That’s our focus area.”
Haridas affirmed that the crowd at his hotel was cosmopolitan in nature. “Many Maharastrians and North Indians too come to our hotel for our tea. We also serve Missal pav. We cater to people from varied economic strata. Our pricing is easy on the purse. Apart from dosa types, we also have bhajiya tipes like Kanda bhajiya, mung bhajiya, methi pakoda and so on,” he enthused.
Asked about the changes he witnessed during the decades he spent in Bombay as a hotelier, he said, “The difference between the Old and new generation is that the old-timers were able to appreciate and discern the authentic taste we provided. The new generation lacks knowledge. They go blindly by taste. Formerly, we used to have plenty of students from UDCT or VJTI or Khalsa. But now only a few from the student community visit our hotel. The rest are hooked to junk food.
Queried about the old time loyalists Haridas said, “We had a 99-year-old man from what we popularly called the Garden group. He frequented our hotel regularly till recently when he passed away.” On a parting note he added, “I would like to carry on with the same hotel business. You asked about changes. Yes, there are changes in the social structure too. We are facing high attrition among the staff of waiters. That’s a part of occupational hazards when running the hotel line.”

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