CHENNAI: When the earnings from his stunt projects were insufficient to support his family, Krishnan Anjana set up a beef and idiyappam kadai in Adyar to make a few extra bucks. Little did he know that it would become a hit among his customers, and a thriving business.
"I started doing stunts in movies at the age of 17. That was almost 20 years ago. It was something my friends and I loved, and we practised together. However, the industry took a dip for stuntmen in 2017. I stopped receiving projects like before and that reduced my income too. In order to sustain myself, I started selling beef soup, beef curry and idiyappam," he says.
Krishnan had specifically picked those items to be on his menu because of the nutritional value of beef. "While growing up, my father emphasised on how healthy beef is. He loved the beef soup my mother made and used to insist that I eat it too. Today, I ensure that my children have a healthy dose of beef every day," says the 42-year-old.
"I haven’t seen anyone sell good, well-prepared beef. Many youngsters love the meat. I started selling beef items only because no one else sold it in the area," Krishnan says. A month into opening up his shop, Krishnan was loaded with orders.
"I would come at six in the evening to find at least five people surrounding the kadai, waiting for me," he laughs. "That’s why I now come at 4.30 pm to set up shop," he adds.
Krishnan stays a few minutes away from his kadai. Work begins immediately as he wheels in his auto. “The beef for the soup is pre-cooked. I marinate two kilos of beef in chilli powder, turmeric, garam masala powder and kothamalli. This mixture sits for two hours for the marinade to soak, after which I fry it with curry leaves and mustard seeds. In another pot, I fry onions, tomatoes and puree the mixture. To this, I add beef bone stock to flavour the soup,” he says. He carries the two elements separately to the shop. He mixes the two in a large aluminium pot filled with three litres of water and boils the soup.
Preparation for the beef curry begins at noon. "I let the meat marinate for three hours. Only then do the flavours soak into the juices of the meat. I fry the beef curry at the shop because it should be served fresh and hot. While the beef marinates, I prepare around 150 idiyappams," says Krishnan.
The crowd of customers chomping on the beef hungrily is generally a prominent indicator of the aroma and flavours. "People get curious and come over to see what’s cooking. They seldom leave without eating anything," he adds.
“There have been times when my friends and I have waited for Krishnan to set up shop and serve us beef. Most of the places prepare Chinese varieties of beef, but Krishnan adds curry leaves and Indian spices, which I love,” says S Rajesh, a customer who has been coming to the shop for the past two years.
"The beef and the idiyappams are too good. The beef is well cooked and the idiyappams go well with the curry," says Rahim Peshan, a daily customer. Krishnan buys his beef at Palavakkam on ECR. “I buy around four to five kilos of meat every day. One kilo costs me around Rs 300,” he says.
As the only beef dish vendor in the area, Krishnan has felt safe. “People always think that I would have gotten into trouble for selling beef but I have had no such problem till date. Even policemen eat at my kadai,” he adds.
As for his stunt projects, his income is still low. “I have grown old now but I keep myself fit for any action roles by working out every day for three and a half hours in the morning,” Krishnan says. He spends his free time in-between gymming and preparing the items on his menu, with his two daughters.
"One is six-and-a-half and the other is one. When my elder daughter comes back from school, she sits next to me, watching me cook," he says with a smile. "I still take up supporting and stunt roles in movies. It’s become like a hobby now. My kadai has become a primary source of income now and I enjoy cooking and feeding people, the way my father fed me," says Krishnan.
The beef soup is priced at Rs 65, beef curry at Rs 80 and idiyappam at Rs 20. Krishnan’s shop is located near Indira Nagar Water Tank, 2nd Avenue Main Road, Adyar.
Stunning stunts in...
Yennai Arindhaal (2015 )