Number munching at Cafe Mysore
The Matunga eatery makes 60 idlis in eight minutes, and feeds 350 customers daily. Here's looking at one of Mumbai's oldest Udupi joints through hard figures
The kitchen at one of Matunga's most famous eateries is busy with rhythmic clangs of batter being stirred, oil perpetually on the boil, and bananas hacked into bits. It's hot and loud, but Krishna Shetty is perfectly at home in a sticky kitchen with 20 men shuffling around him.
Sixty idlis are made every eight minutes at Matunga's Cafe Mysore.
Pic/ Atul Kamble
The 45 year-old kitchen manager at Cafe Mysore has been an employee with one of Matunga's oldest southern snack joints since he was 12. After he made his way from Karkala taluka in Karnataka to Mumbai, Shetty found work at the Udipi joint, started by A Rama Nayak, in 1934. He learned from experience, starting out as the skinny boy who wiped tables clean. Today, he is responsible for making sure every dish that leaves the kitchen, is consistent in quality.
Mysore's kitchen opens at 4 am, and shuts shop by 9 pm. The day begins with the young kitchen staff peeling and slicing mounds of vegetables. "Nothing is prepared the previous night. We don't have a fridge. It's all prepared based on the day's requirements. No extra food is prepared or wasted," explains owner Shanteri Nayak. Shetty's job includes tasting chutneys and sipping on Rasam throughout the day, and making sure there is enough fermented batter to whip up idlis and dosas for the steady breakfast crowd.
The menu is basic -- 10 items include Idli, Dosa, sandwiches, lunch thalis and sweets like the popular Pineapple Sheera. Shetty rattles off ingredients off the top of his head. Cheese makes the Dilkush Dosa a favourite among collegians, and the healthy Khotu idli is cooked in jackfruit leaves to reduce acidity. "We push the idlis more than any other item on the menu. And speed is our forte," Nayak smiles. A laminated sign on the wall behind him reads, 'Come to Cafe Mysore for eating, and not just meeting.'
"We use a steam machine that can prepare 60 idlis in a span of eight minutes. The machine is fitted with three trays, each holding 20 idlis," explains Nayak. Her son Naresh prefers to call the restaurant the original fast food king. "We may not be able to compete with McDonald's 'seven minutes' (meal), but our food is healthier," he says.
"Foreigners who come to sample the food ask for 'rice cakes' and can't get enough of our idlis," says Nayak, whose client list boasts famous diners, including the Ambanis. They share their love for steaming fresh idlis with college students, rushed office goers and Gujarati seniors sipping on filter coffee.
No matter who you are, the taste of your coconut chutney will always be the same, every day, thanks to Shetty. As a one-liner on the menu puts it: 'The owner of the restaurant also eats here.'
461, Durlabh Nivas, Bhaudaji Road, Matunga.
1934 The year Cafe Mysore was started
50 times the floor is mopped in a day
100 breakfast Parcels are packed off on a Sunday
60 Idlis are cooked per batch
8 Minutes to make a single batch of Idlis
30 Plates of Idlis served for breakfast every day
10 per cent profit made per dish
20 Minutes to make the most time consuming dish -- the onion uthapa
20 Minutes is how long a customer takes in the Cafe
7 waiters work a shift in the Cafe
8 hours is how long a waiter works in a day