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Desi Di: This Chennai Restaurant is a Pot-Breaking Joint that Experiments with Traditional Food

A daring experiment indeed in these days when the urge is for instant gratification

Country Chicken Dish served at Desi Di
Country Chicken Dish served at Desi Di. Wikimedia
  • Chef Aaron Coutinho taps hard around the pot till it develops cracks and removes the top quarter portion to reveal the country chicken inside
  • There is an old payphone instrument that was ubiquitous in the 1980s, a hand-wound gramophone, the front portion of a Tata truck, vintage tables and steel chairs
  • One of the wall paintings is that of an attractive Rajput princess wearing shades and holding a smartphone

Chennai, August 21, 2017: The newly-opened Desi Di Restaurant is certainly a pot-breaking joint while trying to be a path breaker. So, what’s a pot-breaker?

‘Country matka chicken’ is one of the dishes on the menu and it is served in style. An aluminium  tray holding rice bowls, a sealed mud pot, an onion plate, dal and other items are brought to the diner’s table.

Chef Aaron Coutinho taps hard around the pot till it develops cracks and removes the top quarter portion to reveal the country chicken inside. Curious diners start clicking pictures of the pot-breaking ritual with their smartphones.

At Rs 1,599, the dish is one of the costliest at Desi Di. And it tastes good, with the portion size enough for four. It’s a meal in itself.

“This is one of the four dishes that need to be ordered 24 hours ahead. The country chicken has to be marinated for several hours before it can be cooked,” Coutinho explained.

A daring experiment indeed in these days when the urge is for instant gratification.

Desi Di is conceptualized as a restaurant reminding people of a bygone era. Outside the restaurant door, is the wheel of a cart-turned-reception table with sharbat bottles and a “Welcum” board on it. The word welcome has been deliberately misspelled to remind one of what is normally seen outside some rural shops, said a staffer.

Also Read: Sanjha Chulha: This Famous Eatery from Kolkata Feeds the Underprivileged with their Food ATM

The interiors also offer some nostalgia. There is an old payphone instrument that was ubiquitous in the 1980s, a hand-wound gramophone, the front portion of a Tata truck, vintage tables and steel chairs.

One of the wall paintings is that of an attractive Rajput princess wearing shades and holding a smartphone.

Soon after taking a seat, mocktails – lemon barley shikanji and red hibiscus iced tea were offered. Served in a tall beaker with a long straw, the red hibiscus tea was refreshing. “The drink is made with dried leaves of hibiscus and flowers,” Coutinho said.The lemon barley shikanji had a mild jaljeera taste.

By this time, the starters – vada pao (open-faced steamed bun), arbi (colocasia) pakoda, tandoori phool gobhi (cauliflower) and mirch pakoda had arrived at the table.

The arbi pakoda was served in an aluminium tumbler while the mirch pakoda came in a tiffin box that children used to take to schools in the 1970s.

“I used to take my lunch to school in a box like that,” a middle-aged female guest at the next table was heard commenting.

The vada pao and arbi pakoda were divine. “Instead of finger chips made with potato we decided on arbi,” Coutinho said.

Non-vegetarians can bet on a country chicken Afghani kebab. Similarly, the spicy mushroom khakra ya papad was nice and crispy and did not get soggy.

“As for dips, we decided to go for locally available veggies like makkai (corn), radish, ridge gourd or pumpkin,” Coutinho explained. The restaurant’s radish chutney was good and could go with all the dishes.

Also Read: Adopting these Ancient Food Practices Will Help You to Live a Healthy Life

Desi Di offers various items for light and heavy meals. Seafood lovers can choose prawn balchao stuffed calamari on a bed of lapsi/broken wheat. When bitten, the prawn and squid give out a nice flavor.

Vegetarians can try out Gujarat’s stuffed panki with varied stuffings. It was time to go for kala-khatta soda to ease the tummy for other dishes.

Coutinho came to the table carrying a charcoal burnt unshaved coconut. On opening the coconut top, the smell of cooked prawn and mustard oil wafted out. The dish was good with rice, but a dash of additional chilli is needed for the southern palate.The spicy Goan fish curry with brown rice (or if you wish, basmati or ponni rice) was also good.

On the other hand, the vegetarian paneer khurchan accompanied with dal tadka went well with rice and roti. The masala millet kichadi with Gujarati Kadi was also good.

For dessert, the gulab jamun cheesecake, gajar ka halwa,  falooda, and kulfi were on offer.


What: Desi Di

Where: Integral Club, Pilkington Road, Ayanavaram, Chennai

Cost for two: Rs 800 plus taxes/Rs 1,599 if ordering the specialty, but remember, this is ideal for a group of four (IANS)


Next Story

Here’s how China Invaded India with Its Technology

Chinese invasion decimates Indian mobile players, automakers next?

China has slowly but strategically spread its roots in the Indian IT/technology and allied sectors in India. Pixabay


The Great Wall has slowly but strategically spread its roots in the Indian IT/technology and allied sectors in India, and there is no stopping the dragon which has only grown fierce — threatening industries after industries across the spectrum as India celebrates its 71th Republic Day.

From smartphones to automobile/electric vehicles, from digital payments and consumer electronics to social media, Chinese companies have created massive ripples in the country in the last couple of years, while American giants like Amazon and Facebook/WhatsApp face the political heat.

China, which is a fastest-growing trillion-dollar economy with a current GDP of $14.14 trillion is on the path to become a $20 trillion economy by 2024 and India is its “sweet spot” — with millions of consumers buying Chinese goods which has decimated domestic players in certain sectors.

Xiaomi, a Chinese company has also established itself well in the country. Pixabay

Take the case of smartphone industry. According to Hong Kong-based Counterpoint Research, Chinese smartphone brands captured 72 per cent of the market in 2019 compared to 60 per cent a year ago.

Behemoth like the BBK Group (the parent company of OPPO, Vivo, Realme and OnePlus brands) captured 37 per cent market share while Xiaomi (along with Redmi and POCO brands) came second at 28 per cent.

Led by Xiaomi and BBK Group, the Chinese brands have invested heavily in manufacturing devices and accessories in India.

Xiaomi currently has seven smartphone manufacturing plants in India in partnership with Taiwanese multinational electronics company Foxconn and Singapore-based technological manufacturer Flex Ltd.

More than 99 per cent of smartphones that are sold in India are manufactured locally. Across these seven plants, Xiaomi has employed more than 25,000 people.

Xiaomi also locally sources and assembles PCBA (Printed Circuit Board Assembly) in India. It has invested in setting up smart TV manufacturing plant in partnership with Dixon Technologies in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh. The company last year infused Rs 3,500 crore into its Indian business unit.

Vivo has committed Rs 7,500 crore as part of its India expansion plan while Chinese company TCL is investing Rs 2,200 crore in Tirupati for plants that will produce mobile handsets and TV screens.

Amid the onslaught, where do you see domestic players like Micromax, Intex, Lava and Karbonn (known as ‘MILK’ brand)?

According to Navkendar Singh, Research Director, IDC India, while we cannot rule out any player making a comeback, especially in such a dynamic market like India, it looks nearly impossible for Indian mobile phones brands to win back any relevant portion of the market.

“China-based brands have been in India for almost 5 years plus now. In this time, apart from snatching the market share almost entirely from the other brands, they have gained immense knowledge about the workings of the India market in terms of consumer thinking, preferences, channel dynamics and marketing interventions,” Singh told IANS.

The Chinese brands are continuously committing resources and investments in all these key areas.

As China keeps introducing its technology in India, automobile makers will be affected. Pixabay

“Moreover, with more than 3/4th of the market being with 5 players, it is becoming increasingly challenging for any new or old brands like Indian brands to attempt any sustained comeback,” Singh elaborated.

So what are the options for the Indian smartphone players?

“Indian brands can surely look at the feature phone segment, where almost all major China-based brands have chosen to stay away from (expect Shenzhen-based Transsion Group which is the leader). Also, their brand salience remains strong with that consumer segment and Tier II and III markets,” said the IDC executive.

Cut to the Auto Expo 2020 and you will have a better understanding of how Chinese companies muscle their ways.

Top Chinese firms such as SAIC (owner of MG Motors), BYD (maker of electric buses and batteries), Great Wall (which is the biggest SUV maker in China) and FAW Haima, among others, have reserved nearly 20 per cent space in the annual jamboree of carmakers and industry leaders, at a time when the Indian automobile industry is going through a severe slowdown.

Bucking the slowdown trend, SAIC has recorded healthy sales ever since it launched the Hector SUV. At present, the carmaker’s first offering SUV Hector has an order book of 20,000 bookings. It has till date sold nearly 16,000 units of Hector since its launch in July 2019.

The Chinese automobile major has now launched its first electric offering called ZS EV, at a starting price of Rs 20.88 lakh. The company said that it has secured an overwhelming response for the new-age electric SUV, with over 2,800 bookings in 27 days.

To let its EVs run smoothly in India, MG Motor India is building a five-way EV charging ecosystem in association with major domain players.

China’s leading EV company, Sunra, has expressed interest in setting up a factory in the country as it sees India emerging as the world’s biggest market for electric bikes in the next four to five years.

The EV firm has partnered with 16 private companies in Delhi. Nearly six e-bike models of Sunra are under the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) test and two of its models are available in some of the showrooms.

Also Read- New Stretchable Battery Can Safely Store Power for Wearables

According to a TechSci Research report, electric vehicle market in India is forecast to reach nearly $2 billion by the financial year 2023.

As the Indian government firms up its EV plans, Chinese companies have already set their eyes on the EV sector roadmap in the country. (IANS)

One response to “Here’s how China Invaded India with Its Technology”

  1. This is a win-win relationship.Is India losing anything? Indians get job, foreign investments, latest technology from China. Do you think local Indian companies have the latest technology? Of course not. Its time for India to open up more, absorb these technologies and then go for home grown solutions. In short do to China what Chinese did to West.