How a vegetarian couple cooks and serves over 20 types of traditional non-veg dishes every day
A couple running an eatery at their home in Erode district, 79 kilometres from Coimbatore, has put their village, Seenapuram, on the food map of India. The restaurant, UBM Namma Veetu Saapaadu, serves a special non-veg lunch and gets customers from faraway places like Bengaluru and Chennai. Its speciality is its sumptuous unlimited lunch at Rs.500 (which goes up to Rs.700 in some cases) with around 20 types of traditional non-veg dishes made from mutton, chicken, fish, turkey and more. What’s interesting is that the duo, are strictly vegetarian.
Food is served on plantain leaves, seven to eight feet in length, and a family of four to five can sit together and eat from a single leaf. They serve on smaller leaves too, if you ask for it. The owners, R Karunaivel, 60, and his wife Swarnalakshmi, 53, make the food themselves. About 50 people drop by on weekdays, but a bigger crowd turns up on weekends, according to the couple.
“We get around 150 people during weekends and holidays. Families travel from as far as 150 to 200 km to satiate their taste buds and eat to their heart’s content. The smile on their face when they leave our hotel gives me the energy to feed more and more people,” says Karunaivel. Along with a variety of non-vegetarian items including mutton kolambu, rathaporiyal, kudal curry, thalaicurry, liver curry, items made of broiler chicken and naatukoli (country) chicken, meenkolambu (fish curry), they serve rice, rasam and curds as well. For children, a special chicken gravy is made adding lentils, which is less spicy
Lunch is served as they do at wedding feasts, to batches of about 50 people in each sitting. Twenty people can sit inside their home and a separate enclosure on the side of the house accommodates the rest. UBM is open from 12.30 p.m. to 3 p.m. serving only lunch. If you have to be sure of treating yourself to a hearty meal, you need to make a call and book your table.
“Our family was known for extending hospitality to people. My grandparents saw to it that nobody visiting our house would go back hungry. This was passed on to my parents and we are continuing the same tradition,” Karunaivel told The Weekend Leader. The couple procures the core ingredients locally. Karunaivel personally checks the quality of meat, and fish, and gives clear instructions on making the masala pastes and mixes to his wife.
“As a home-run establishment, and with my wife being the sole cook, we have greater control over what goes into the food, and thus we have been able to maintain the quality and taste. Our aim is to make the entire family feel at home and give them the experience of enjoying a meal sitting together and eating from a single leaf. For individuals and friends, who, at times hesitate to eat from the same plantain leaf, we serve food individually on smaller leaves,” Karunaivel said.