From Kashmiri mutton yakhni to Anglo-Indian cutlets, Chennai’s home cooks deliver it all. We bring you a list of some home kitchens that have stood the test of multiple lockdowns in the city
We all have that hidden curiosity about what is cooking in our neighbours’ kitchen, and how different it would taste from home cooking. How fun would it be, if you could actually taste food from a different cuisine every day? These intriguing home kitchens, serving up family recipes, make that possible.
Having worked in IT for most of her life, in 2019 Hyma Sakhamuri finally turned her dream of running her own food business into reality. She carefully handles the heirloom recipes passed down to her by her mother and grandmother. Her Guntur style of cooking has built her a loyal clientele. She posts her menu a day in advance on Instagram and WhatsApp, taking bookings only for small batches. Her elaborate Saturday bhojanam with over eight sides, which can easily serve two people, needs a special mention and is priced at ₹700. If you are lucky, you may get to try her ulli garelu (onion vada) with chicken curry.
Mother-daughter duo K Srilakshmi and K Keerthana started a small food delivery service in January 2020, serving homes and hostels in their locality. During the first wave, when their other businesses were shut, food delivery kept them going. It was challenging to run a food business during lockdown, says Keerthana. “When the meat shops were shut during lockdown, the menu had to be changed to completely vegetarian,” she says.
Business took off when they started supplying food to doctors on duty; their combo packages were a huge hit. They have a standard menu one can pre-book, boasting chicken ghee roast deepened with Bydagi chillies and prawn biryani, lush with saffron milk. Their elaborate non-vegetarian combo for two is priced at ₹699.
Contact Number: 8667306011
To get your hands on Anglo-Indian food in Chennai is a rarity, as the cuisine is mostly restricted to households and family recipes. That, exactly, was Carl Fernandes’ motivation to start his home kitchen brand — serving authentic Anglo-Indian food to the curious gourmands of Chennai. This musician by profession turned to catering by passion earlier this year. He puts up a pop-up menu once a week, which customers get as a broadcast message on WhatsApp. Anglo-Indian beef curry and pork fry are some of his popular items, as is coconut rice and ball curry with devil’s chutney, served with a side of cutlets. Contact number: 9840340926
Ammu Manoj believes in the mantra, “Food makes people happy but good food feeds the soul.” The appreciation she earned from friends and peers gave her confidence in March 2021 to step beyond catering for friends. She operates from a separate apartment which she has converted into a kitchen studio, and sticks to quintessentially central Travancore (South Kerala) food. Her roots in Quilon (Kollam) shine through in the way her kallappam is laced with tender coconut. Her classic, however, is a combo of three palappams.
Contact Number: 9884898998
Ayesha’s Kitchen, Vepery
It has been two years since Sohail Mohammed has been taking care of handling orders and coordinating delivery for his mother Shabnam Parveen’s venture Ayesha’s Kitchen. A focus on Muslim home-style food and steady word of mouth publicity has helped them expand their customer base, as have shoutouts on Instagram. Shabnam makes sure to follow her family recipes to the T: her shammi kebabs are made of meat marinated for hours at a stretch, and her seekh kebabs need the charcoal to be heated perfectly, to achieve just the right smokiness. Sohail beamingly mentions that his mother’s paaya ka salan is “lazeez (delicious)” and goes well with both string hoppers and parathas. A meal for two costs approximately ₹600-₹700.
Contact number: 9003213351
In May 2020 Yasmeen Azeem and her family decided to share their treasure trove of recipes from the Kashmir valley with the public. Yasmeen had shifted to Chennai after her wedding in 1976. Her bestselling mutton yakhni — meatballs simmered in a curd-based curry with a mild dose of aromatics — seems to have won many hearts. The fiery-looking yet mildly spicy rista is another dish to look forward to. Wash it all down with a glass of home brewn kahwah; you will not regret it. Sadia, Yasmeen’s daughter-in-law, handles the social media for her and helps in facilitating the order process. A meal for two costs approximately ₹800-₹900.
Contact number: 9840089139