Decades ago, elderly Bangaloreans used to take their morning walk around the Lal Bagh Fort, and at the end of it, visit the Mavalli Tiffin Room, known more popularly as MTR, for their breakfast. On some days, the Tiffin Room used to be full and one had to wait in a queue.
One could see persons belonging to the rich, middle and lower middle class waiting in the queue, waiting for their turn. There were no reserved tables. Till the end of the last century, Bangalore used to be a 'fanless' city, leave alone air-conditioning.
A good breakfast, for a Bangalorean, cost hardly a couple of rupees. It used to be rounded off with a warm glass of coffee.
The demand for MTR cuisine became so pressing that it had to prepare packed ingredients at their 'factory' near Bangalore. The packed food became a major attraction following the 'research' done by the Defence Research Laboratory in Bangalore in the sixties to ensure that the Indian soldier serving in far-flung posts along the northern border could have healthy food.
When MTR could prepare more food that was demanded by the armed forces, it decided to market the same in retail across India. Today, you can buy from the shelf, the ingredients for 'Idli, Upma, Sambhar, Vada, Gulab Jamun and Kheer, to name only a few.
While other Tiffin chains, like the Woodlands, Dasaprakash, Udupi Hotels, the Sagar Ratna, Naivedyam, Ananda Bhavan and Sarvana Bhavan, to name a few, opened their branches all over India and abroad, the MTR did not. It is news now that the chain is opening a branch of the MTR Tiffin room in Singapore of all places.
Indian food consists of a wide variety of regional cuisines native to India, and given the range of diversity in soil type, climate and occupations, these cuisines vary significantly from each other and use locally available spices, herbs, vegetables and fruits.
Indian food is heavily influenced by religious and cultural choices, and the cuisine is popular not only among the large Indian diaspora, but also among the mainstream population of North America and Europe.
Apart from Europe and North America, Indian cuisine is also popular in South East Asia, because of its strong historical influence on the region's local cuisines.
Indian cuisine has had considerable influence on Malaysian cooking styles and also enjoys strong popularity in Singapore.
It, therefore, comes as no surprise that Karnataka-based Mavalli Tiffin Rooms, known more popularly as MTR, which has been serving authentic South Indian food, is opening its first restaurant in Singapore on May 26.
India's High Commissioner to Singapore, T.C. A.Raghavan, will be the chief guest at the opening ceremony of the restaurant that is located at 438, Serangoon Road, opposite the Sri Sininivasaperumal Temple.
Mavalli Tiffin Rooms (MTR) was started in 1924. It was set up near Lalbagh Fort, Bangalore, by two brothers-Yajnanarayana Maiya and Ganappaya Maiya, who came down from from a place called Parampalli, near Udupi, Karnataka.
In 1936, Ganappaya Maiya decided to go back to Parampalli and Yajnanarayana Maiya assumed full charge of the restaurant .
It was originally called 'Brahmin's Coffee House', but the name was changed when it was shifted to a bigger premises in 1960.
In 1950, Yajnanarayana undertook a European tour to see for himself how restaurants in other parts of the world functioned.
The cleanliness and hygiene there opened his eyes. He resolved that MTR would adhere to the same standard of cleanliness.
He distributed small booklets on health, proper eating habits and recipes. He introduced the system of opening up of the kitchen to the scrutiny of any customer who was interested.
In 1968, Yajnanarayana Maiya passed away and the restaurant was taken over by his nephew, Harishchandra Maiya.
1n 1976, at the height of the Emergency in India, the government called five of the most well known restaurants in Bangalore, including MTR, and told them that they had to reduce the prices of food at their restaurants according to government approved rates, to bring it within the reach of the common man.
The prices of the items were to be the same in all restaurants. Some restaurants paid up, others started compromising on the quality, but MTR did neither.
It kept the quality of the food as high as ever and put up a board stating the losses for the day outside the restaurant.
This practice continued for 16 days, and on the 16th day, MTR downed its shutters, and opened a small departmental store next to the hotel, from where it sold mixes for rava idli and other items.
The restaurant opened again after the emergency was lifted.
The food safety and quality assurance policies of MTR are their commitment to excellence.
Raw ingredients are selected after a careful process of quality checks and satisfying various food science attributes before the processing begins in their kitchen.
The preparation of food in MTR's kitchens is based on traditional recipes complimented with food technology principles to blend old world charm of traditional Indian food with swift processing and consistent taste.
With the storage and supply chain dynamically based on "KAIZEN" principles, the following are the USPs of MTR - finest ingredients; all food freshly prepared; no preservatives added; no mono-sodium glutanate (MSG) and no use of eggs or reused oil. (ANI)