The land and its people which were parochial enough to call me a Vella Kaka (white crow) as a teenager, while I was growing in the state of Tamil Nadu (an aryan in the land of dravidans in the 70s) is gastronomically more than acceptable to me. I have enjoyed the land, the people and the food in great measures from the 70s to now.
Memories, of Annapoorna Hotel in RS Puram, Central Biryani Hotel at Oppenkara Street at Coimbatore and slowly introduced to the Non vegetarian Tamil cuisines (Chettinaad, Chettiar, Karaikudi, Nachiyaar, Muslim cuisine of Tamil Naad), slowly the passion grew stronger and now was delighted to find the dining options at the Tamil Nadu house opposite the erstwhile Chanakya cinema.
Its pretty much a cliche, that all South Indians are Vegetarians (recent studies on food habits have shown the North has 45% Non Vegetarians, while the Southern states offer 65-85% Non Vegetrians). So, the educated gentry which travelled North and made North India their home were from a certain community which was influential, vocal and willing to travel, helped form this extreme opinion. Besides, the Udupi, Tamil and Kerala restaurants in the North e.g Woodland, Dasaprakash, Naivedyam, and the Coffee board restaurants did not want to do extreme stuff, so they stuck to the safer format of Idli, Vaada, Dosa rather than the extreme stuff. While Vegetarian and Non Vegetarian food happily co-exist.
Doing road shows for cable operators in the mid and late 90s for Discovery Channel and then StarTV, showed that all people ate, was Non Vegetarian food and ended it with Curd rice. We then started cutting down the extra dishes to keep the focus.
Now about a little Tamil Nadu in New Delhi. It has the smoke of Aggarbattis as you walk in with a proper cash counter with paans, with waiters with vibhuti(ash vermillion) on the forehead both vertical and horizontal (Vaishnavites and Shaivites). The only thing missing is loud Tamil Music. This is haven for the under Rs 100/- diner. You are spoilt for choices over 150 things on the menu.
We, (the two of us, returning from a sales call) settle down and order Porothas (thats how its spelled and pronounced, though hardcore Tamilians cannot say "P" tend to say "B"). So 4 Borothas (layered, crisp and flaky like patties) and Chettinaad mutton and Chicken biryani feeds us very well with a lot of chutnies, yoghurt with onions and gravy. Great flavours efficient service (plan how many Borothas, well in advance to avoid the in between meak wait).
The flavours are authentic, prices very eglatarian, feels like Rs Puram and you see alot of the Tamil community, even the NRI variety with an American friend from college. It definitely appeals to the sensibility of the travelling salesmen. Yes we paid Rs 250'- with the tips and paan we did not make it to the under Rs 100/- mark but we were close and we ate well. Try it.
The final comment I have to make about Bhawans is (though I could go on for another 20 more, it will be repetitive and boring), they can be a huge exposition of modern day culture and food of the province and the state, serving all local produce, including the local wine, beer and other alcoholoic beverages. Move away from current parameters of art and culture, i.e, handicrafts, traditional folk music and dance and give it a modern take for showcasing of modern existance and what better palce than Delhi where there is already a format and venue. But for godsake lets not raise the prices, so much for Government subsidy.
I am tempted to begin work on the Indian Coffee Houses (means different things to different people), I know reams or enough pixels have been written about them and in them, well still worth a try and they are bulls eye in my TG ( Target Group), eating well in Under Rs 100/-