Chennai has lot takers for Jain food. Places like Sowcarpet and Vepery, which have settlements of the community are also dotted with eateries serving Jain cuisine. However, most of these perhaps won’t pass the tasting test for someone who knows the cuisine like the back of their hand.
“Apart from homemade food, I have not tasted authentic Jain food anywhere in the city. They either add local flavour which spoils its taste or add heaps of masalas and preservatives,” says Shilpa, a Rajasthani Jain, pursuing her bachelor’s degree in the city.
It is to cater to the needs of people like Shilpa that Prasanth Jain and his 88-year-old grandmother Mena Jain have come up with a service to deliver home-cooked Jain food to people at their doorstep. “We serve 100 per cent authentic and pure Rajasthani and Jain food here at ‘Homemade North Indian Jain Food Delivery Service’. I was a professional chef and have worked in many restaurants across the city before starting this venture. Our family also owns a bakery in Thiagaraya Nagar,” says Prasanth.
He proudly says that the initiative was his grandmother’s brainchild. She wanted to help her friends in the neighbourhood who craved for home-cooked food. “We started this food business to cater to the elderly and working professionals who either don’t find the time or have difficulty in cooking for themselves. However, to our pleasant surprise, we have been receiving orders from a mixed crowd these days. Young and old, people want to experiment with cuisines. Even the locals are fond of the cuisine. Though there are umpteen number of restaurants available in Chennai, people at times crave for homecooked meals or what we call Saathvik food, especially during season they fast,” adds Prasanth.
Further, Prasanth adds, “There is a lot of misconception about this cuisine. Jain food is not just roti, sabzi and daal. It is much more than that. Although we do not use onions, garlic, ginger and potato, there is a lot of variety.” There are nearly 15-20 options on the menu that Prasanth claims are not available anywhere else in Chennai. From meals to desserts, the items are priced between Rs 60 and Rs 180.
While it was opened recently, Prasanth says they already boast of 60 regular customers. “And we haven’t done any formal advertising. It’s all through positive word of mouth. Not just resident, many Jain families travelling to Chennai pre-order food and we directly deliver it to them at places like Central, Egmore station, hospitals and airport,” he adds.
When we ask him of his future plans, he says, “Our aim is not to make it a big commercial venture. Rather, our ultimate aim is to ensure our patrons are treated to food that would remind them of their roots. So, it’s all about service to the community.”