Want perfect snacks? Head to babai hotel

Want perfect snacks? Head to babai hotel
Highlights

There are times when the tummy rumbles and grumbles. You don’t want to go in for something heavy, but are looking for that perfect snack that keeps your body light enough to keep working without feeling drowsy. So, we zero in on idlis.

There are times when the tummy rumbles and grumbles. You don’t want to go in for something heavy, but are looking for that perfect snack that keeps your body light enough to keep working without feeling drowsy. So, we zero in on idlis.

A staple, delicious food, the idli has become popular in not just Andhra Pradesh but also around the world. To relish this popular dish, we take off to Babai Hotel in Gandhi Nagar, which is associated with the dish for years. We meet Laxminarayana Sastry, the hotel owner, who narrates his journey of success.

As we wait for our dish to arrive, Laxminarayana says, “74 years ago, my uncle Parthuni Samba Murthy started the Babai Hotel in Vijayawada. The rest is history.” “I took over the business after the demise of my uncle in 1985. My uncle had named the hotel as Babai Hotel. It has a touch of simplicity and uniqueness to it. And now people ask us where we got this catchy name from,” he says.

When asked, if there is low turnout of customers due to demonetisation, he said there is no much impact on the business and added that around 100 to 150 diners visit the hotel every day and on weekends the rush will be little more than usual.

“Office goers, schoolchildren, businessmen and people from all walks of life visit our hotel,” smiles Laxminaryana. Even Telugu cinema legends Nandamuri Taraka Ramarao, Akkineni Nageswara Rao, Savitri and a host of politicians used to frequently visit our hotel those days to relish the tiffins, he adds.

Soon, as word spread, people from all over the city and even nearby districts made it a point to taste Babai Hotel’s idlis on their visit to the city. What is the secret of his fluffy idlis? Without divulging much he says, “It is prepared in a traditional Andhra way. We carefully select the variety of dal and rice, and have our own secret proportion. The batter is left to ferment for 10 hours.

We have an idli master who specialises in the art of idli making. Want to know who the biggest connoisseur of Babai Hotel idlis is? Laxminarayana himself! “I just cannot do without having idlis here, at least once a day,” he beams.

The idli is served with ghee and butter. It also comes in a podi (chilli powder) covered version for a palette open to something spicier. The eatery’s walls are adorned with the awards it has received over the years. Some of them include President’s Appreciation Award in 1977 (by the then President Neelam Sanjiva Reddy) and world’s largest travel website TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award in 2015.

Yesteryear actor Chandra Mohan and a host of other celebrities look down at you as you devour the delicacies doled out of the kitchen. This hotel’s onion uthappam, pongal and coffee are extremely popular too.

A regular customer Bhaskar says, “I cannot resist the temptation to guzzle down a few cups while drowning in its aroma.” The hotter the coffee, the better the flavour, he adds. It may be recalled here that the popularity of Babai Hotel is such that a movie named Babai Hotel was released in 1992 with comedian Brahmanandam essaying the titular role.

By K Sarath Chandra

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