Madras Restaurant

Viswanath Nair tells us that this restaurant was started in 1951 by his father KP Parameswaram Nair from Kerala in 1951. Parameswaram and two of his brothers left Kerala to seek their fortune. One left them when they reached Chennai, to sail to Singapore and then went on to emigrate to the UK. One stayed up to Nagpur. Only Parameswaram reached Lucknow. It is said that this establishment pioneered south Indian food– dosa, vada and idli in Lucknow. It was managed by Viswanath’s father up to 1984, and up to 1995 by his maternal uncle. He has been in charge for the past 27 years. The original intention was to cater to the South Indian soldiers posted in the Lucknow Cantonment. With time, a long list of customers has only grown. Today the serve chhole-bhature and Chinese food as well. The small rooms of yore have been replaced by a hall that can accommodate 75 people. Viswanath says that stone-ground spices and batter make their food special. They start work at 6 AM and serve the first customers at 9 AM. Viswanath supervises stone-grinding of spices and batter. All material is prepared fresh everyday. If skilled workers are not available, Viswanath does everything himself. Madras Restaurant serves dosa with sambar and cocoanut chutney. The sambar tastes different in Kerala, Tamilnadu, Andhra and Karnataka. Viswanath makes authentic Kerala sambar. A regular customer, Kamal Gupta, tells us that he used to bicycle here for a 12-rupee dosa when he was a boy. Decades later, he still finds this the best dosa in town.