Bringing Home Flavours of Bikaner
Popular for its authentic chaat experience, the newly opened Bikanervala makes a bold choice by offering a South Indian platter on its menu
An aromatic spread of raj kachori, chole bhature, bhalla papdi, south Indian platter and tandoori platter — the sizzle of which had set off the fire alarm only minutes ago — awaited us as we deliberated where to begin. It had only been a couple of weeks since Bikanervala, the Delhi-headquartered sweets brand, established its first store in the city on College Road in Nungambakkam — right in time for the Deepavali celebrations — and loyal customers of the brand were still trickling in, consistently.
The century-old brand has already brought its recipes of sweets, snacks, chaat, and food to multiple states — Rajasthan, Delhi, Madya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Haryana, Uttarakhand and more — as well as many other countries, including Nepal, UAE, United States of America, New Zealand and Singapore.
After setting up the Hyderabad branch, this is their second attempt to bring North Indian specialities to the South Indian market. With the aid of the festival time, the brand has welcomed a warm response, as expected according to a staff member. “The overall response was exactly how we had hoped. Chennai already has a lot of South Indian food but they were seeking North Indian options. We hope the guests here are satisfied with quality food and proper service,” he says, adding that the standard operating procedures and recipes remain the same across all Bikarnervala establishments.
We interspersed our conversation with some raj kachori and bhalla papdi that — though missing the typical north Indian flavour-packed punch — were well-balanced with the savouriness of the puri and filling (kachori) and bhalla, and the sweet, sour and spicy of the chutneys playing with the cold dahi (yogurt). The starters were followed by the tandoori platter and South Indian platter. I must be honest, serving a South Indian platter in Chennai as a north Indian brand was a bold choice. But according to the store manager, this was a deliberate one.
“The South Indian platter has a different taste from what is available here. You get a North Indian taste of it instead,” he says. He wasn’t wrong. The chole bhature and some ras malai were the finishers. While the meal did not ‘wow’, it also did not disappoint. However, those comparing to the authentic North Indian flavours may be in for an underwhelming performance.
For the meal, we were seated on the first floor. The store was adequately staffed for the day, especially with the Deepavali festivities setting the fiesta feast mood. This, however, was not the case when another Chennai resident, Radhika Madhavan, visited during the pre-Deepavali weekend. “We liked their Hyderabad outlet and so, we were looking forward to this branch. Unfortunately, there was only one person handling the crowd and it soon became evident that he was giving preferential treatment to those who had come to Chennai from north India. Furthermore, there were many options but only a few available. But, the portions and snacks are good,” she shares.
The store is focusing on retail sales. Those who come for lunch and dinner often also indulge in their sweets and snacks, mentions an employee. It offers 400-500 varieties of sweets, including kaju katli, moong dal ka halwa, boondi ke ladoo, rasgulla etc. and can also customise some on request.
Address: Old No. 12, New No. 29, College Road, Shyam Ave, Nungambakkam, Chennai,
Timings: 8 am to 10 pm