Thursday, August 10, 2017

Mohan Bhojanalay Madurai

A Rajasthan Family that serves high quality North Indian Food in Madurai
Over four decades old Mohan Bhojanalay is a quiet restaurant on Dhanappa Mudali Street and does not have the big visibility of a typical high profile restaurant. But this will easily qualify as one of the best North Indian eat outs in Madurai.

A Picnic to Kodai triggers the idea
In 1972, 31 year old Mohanlal Rawal, hailing from a small remote Viravara Village in Sirohi district, Rajasthan came on a trip to Kodaikanal on a picnic with his then employer in Bombay. At the end of the picnic, he sought a day off to meet his relative in Madurai. She suggested that he also visit the Meenakshi Amman temple.

On that trip, he found that there was no eatery in Madurai where ‘Godumai’ Roti was available. ‘Maidha’ was used everywhere. All the visitors from outside of Tamil Nadu missed their ‘favourite’ Goduma roti. It struck him to start something of his own. But he did not know the local language.

He quit his job, landed up in Madurai that year and worked at a shop for 8 months learning Tamizh in the process.

And then he started a small tea shop offering several different varieties of tea, unheard of at that time in Madurai.
Very soon he expanded to making different varieties of Bhajji.

The Land Owner's Role
Alavanthar Chettiar, the owner of that place on Dhanappa Mudhali street, was impressed with the service mind of this young man and asked if he would be interested in taking up the first floor to fulfil his dreaming of making 'Gothumai' Rotis for the Maduriites. Thus began Mohan Bhojanalay in 1973 offering high quality North Indian meals.

During those initial years, Mohanlal struggled with the finances - he had absolutely no savings and had to single handedly take care of a large family. In those years in the 70s and 80s, it was a desperate scenario for him and his home maker wife to make both ends meet. There were no tables and chairs and the guests sat on the floor. The income generated for the day was re-invested to buy vegetables for the next day’s meals.  

Treating Visitors as his Guest at Home
From the very beginning, Mohanlal had decided that he would treat the visitors as guests and not customers. Over these 44 years, he and now his two sons have welcomed every visitor with folded hands. They are polite and service the guests personally. There are no restrictions on the Rotis. The over 20 employees, that he employs now, enquire and offer the main menu as well as the side dish in unlimited quantity. As one felt a sense of happiness having consumed the unlimited Rotis, his staff surround the guests with unlimited rice along with Sambar, Rasam and Curd. And there seems to be no ‘escape’ route for the guests from the abounding love of Mohanlal and his staff.

The hall now has tables and chairs but they have refrained from refurbish the place and giving it a new modern look. And thus, it still has the charm of the old traditional eatery. 
The biggest satisfaction for Mohanlal is the fact that he has been given an opportunity to feed the devotees who come to have darshan of Meenakshi Amman. And the feedback he receives from across the world from those who have tasted this food is a great source of strength for him to continue to offer this service to his ‘Guests’.

He takes great care of his staff treating them almost as his family and that can be seen in the way they service the guests.

Overseas Visitors are a regular here
His guest profile comprises of overseas visitors, IT employees, students from the Madurai Kamaraj University and high profile businessmen.

With their father’s health deteriorating, the two sons, Dinesh Kumar Rawal and Gautam Kumar Rawal joined their father full time. Mohanlal is past 75 now but he is there through the day at the cash counter welcoming every guest with a smile and making sure that they are fed well. 
     Son DK Rawal with his father at the Mohan Bhojanalay

With a number of guests visiting every day, Mohan Bhojanalay is doing well, financially and there is enough money to take care of the children but their satisfaction and peace of mind when they go to sleep every night comes from the way they have taken care of their guests and that the guests have left the place with a sense of happiness of having tasted high quality and authentic North Indian food.

And that will continue to remain this family’s vision.

There have been a number of offers from Bombay, Madras and Bangalore to open branches and make this a food chain but the family has refrained from the lure of expansion and have remained contended to offer personalised service to the residents of Madurai and the temple town's visitors.

Mohan Bhojanalay is at 33, Dhanappa Mudali Street (off West Tower Street), a 5minute walk from Madurai Junction/ Periyar Bus Stand. Mohanlal Rawal can be contacted on 0452 2346093/99433 23221

(Referred by Shri Praveen Aravamoothan,Founder of an IT start up)


Anonymous said...

One of my favorite joints in Madurai... We have had many roti eating competitions there... ��

Anonymous said...

Loved this place from the 70s and 80s. My fav.
Those unlimited Chapatis were what my childhood was filled with.
Whichever evening we went, we used to avoid the afternoon lunch.

Anonymous said...

i have enjoyed their food at least 10 times. Very delicious. Mango juice or rasamalai will be also outstanding.

Anonymous said...

i have enjoyed their food at least 10 times. Very delicious. Mango juice or rasamalai will be also outstanding.