As with any legacy there were many twists and turns in MTR’s history. Established in 1924, Mavalli Tiffin Rooms has grown from its humble beginnings on Lalbagh Fort Road serving coffee and idlis to with a chain of 10 restaurants in India and has successfully franchised into Singapore, Dubai and Muscat and will shortly foray into Malaysia, Australia, UK and USA. Over the years there have been certain defining moments that shaped MTR into what it is today.
The Magic Beans
Besides idlis and dosas, MTR is also famed for its filter coffee. Back in the day, coffee powder was easily available, but Yagnappa (the founder) had other plans. Instead of buying coffee powder, he meticulously chose coffee beans, roasted and ground them daily, making sure the coffee didn’t lose its flavour. Buffalo milk was preferred to enhance the flavour of the decoction when mixed. Silver cups were used to serve, and to make the experience enduring, coffee was topped with precisely ¼ of an inch of froth. Till date, before serving, the coffee is mixed by pouring it four times from one cup to another at a distance of a yard. At MTR, it is called as the ‘Four Yards of Coffee.’
Birth from a Dearth
It was the year 1943 when the world was seeing World War 2 in its progress, where food was a shortage. At the same time, the Bengal famine had hit India to a devastating effect which meant the scarcity of rice. When faced with a prospect of having to remove ‘rice idlis’, the mainstay of South Indian cuisine, the founder experimented with rava (semolina); it turned out to be the most popular item in the MTR menu. Its popularity doesn’t seemed to have waned to this day as the patrons still relish on the rava idlis topped with a dollop of ghee on it.
During the 1950s, Yagnappa, dabbling with an idea of creating something creative in his dish; so he came up with a sweet dish that was served as a Sunday delicacy. Initially it was named as ‘French Sweet’ when during his visit to France he noticed the resemblance of his invention to a French layered pastry. But the name didn’t help him sell the sweet dish. Then an idea struck him where he changed the name to ‘Chandrahara’, a movie that was running at a nearby cinema hall at that time. And voila! The dish was an instant hit and till date it remains as a trademark MTR dessert.
The Pivotal Journey
As a part of his global expedition into the culinary world to study how restaurants function, Yagnappa traveled to Europe where he recorded many things. When he returned to India he came as an enlightened man who was impressed by the standard of cleanliness, hygiene, discipline and practices adhered by the restaurants abroad. Therefore, after his journey, he raised the bar of MTR high by introducing new standards for hygiene, health and sanitation. He introduced sterilization of utensils, crockery and cutlery. He also created a small booklet on health and proper eating habits and distributed amongst his customers in order to educate the patrons on etiquette and hygiene.
The Walk-Through Kitchen
Although now a days, the concept of walk-through kitchen is quite cliché, but in the past, it was a radical concept. Back in the 60s, the founder, Yagnappa, wanted the restaurant to be more transparent to his customers so they could observe cleanliness and hygiene. Hence he pioneered the concept of walk-through kitchen where he threw the kitchen open to the scrutiny of the customers. He even designed the restaurant as such that the customers had to walk though the kitchen to reach the dining area and got to see firsthand the high standards of sanitation observed by MTR.
MTR is now serving up authentic South Indian Food in Malaysia with its first restaurant opening shortly in Kuala Lampur. To know more about the scrumptious food we have to offer visit http://mtrmalaysia.com/.