On Parnell Street, a restaurant specializing in Indian breakfasts
Ameya Saraf rests an elbow on the counter at Indian Tiffins, a backpack slung over her shoulder and a small paper cup of chai in one hand, Monday night.
“It’s filling, it’s satisfying, it’s tasty,” he says, taking a sip.
Saraf is thirsty for this tea and is enjoying it while he is here at the Parnell Street cafe, he says. “Whenever I feel like that, I come here.”
He hadn’t been able to get tea like this anywhere else, until he came across Indian Tiffins, he says.
Indian Tiffins co-owner Shashidhar Reddy explains that when the cafe opens weekday mornings at 9 a.m., there are usually a handful of hungry workers waiting.
But for Saraf, the chai reminds him of a cup he might have in a small tea shop in his hometown of Mumbai in the evening after work, he says.
“I am a tea drinker. Even in India, I drink tea in the evening,” he says.
A bigger place
Before Indian Tiffins opened, Reddy had another business in town: the Quik Pick convenience store on Ryder’s Row.
“After my MBA, I worked as a manager at Spar for 10 years. And then I started Quik Pick, five years ago,” Reddy explains.
They started cooking and serving dosas at Quik Pick in 2019, he says. With the pandemic and a drop in clientele, he started doing Irish breakfasts too, he says. “I had all this equipment there that I had to use.”
Quik Pick customers started telling him he needed a bigger space, he says. And he had noticed restaurants closing during the pandemic, so he thought there was room for more, he says.
Indian Tiffins, which Reddy owns with friend and business partner Shekhar Bhutkur, opened in October 2021.
“I thought it was the right time,” Reddy says.
The Parnell Street door opens to a counter on the right. Behind the counter are packaged Indian snacks and drinks and a small fridge to chill drinks.
Further inside are 10 wooden tables and benches.
Serving Indian breakfasts has been a big priority, Reddy says. He didn’t think there was much around, he said.
At Indian Tiffins, the turnaround time for an order of dosas – the South Indian pancakes often stuffed with potatoes, served with coconut chutney and watery lentil curry – can be less than 10 minutes.
Dosas aren’t the only thing on the menu though.
On the menu
Saraf, sipping his chai, says he went to Indian Tiffins with friends for an evening meal.
South Indian cuisine is as authentic as what Saraf would pick up in his hometown of Mumbai, he says. “It’s exactly the taste of what we get in India.”
On Wednesdays and Thursdays, the cooks cook chhole bhature, a chickpea curry with fried flatbread, and vada pav, a kind of Indian burger made with traditional bread and a potato pancake.
They also offer dabeli, a snack similar to vada pav but also with pomegranate and peanuts, and misal pav, a sprout curry served with bread.
“We introduced some North Indian stuff so customers don’t get bored,” says Reddy. “On weekends we make biryanis.”
“We do Hyderabadi biryani with meat on the bone,” he says, which is rare in Dublin.
Reddy and Bhutkur employed three chefs: one for biryani, the second for North Indian cuisine and the third for dosa.
Sasima Bhutkur, wife of Shekhar Bhutkur, prepares the best seller: the dosa. “I’m not a chef, but I love to cook,” she says.
She missed the taste of her mother and sister’s food when she moved to Dublin in 2009, she says.
“I want everyone who comes from India and loves dosa, idli and vada to feel like there’s a place where they can find the things they love to eat,” she says.
bring the spice
Sasima – who is from Hyderabad, like her husband Shekhar and Reddy – says the main focus of Indian Tiffins was to make spicy food.
“Wherever you go in Dublin, you don’t find spicy food. Even though there is Indian food, it’s a mix because they want everyone to visit,” she says.
Reddy also points out that Indian Tiffins prepare spicy dishes.
“We want to give people good Indian food, including the spice level and everything. We know our target audience and we got there,” he says.
Sasima says, “If our customers say, ‘We know the food is spicy and that’s why we’re here’, that makes us so happy.”
The restaurant is already growing, Reddy says. “We started with four staff members. At the moment, we are about twenty.
They are also hiring, he says. “So we will be almost 25 in a few months.”
They deliver via UberEats and Deliveroo. “On average, we make 50 deliveries a day,” he says. ” It’s our secret. We do not share this with anyone.
A waiter arrives and tries to get Reddy’s attention, but he continues to chat.
“All my customers – 90% of them – follow Indian Tiffins on Instagram and therefore know the dish of the day. That’s how they come every evening and until late at night. They treat it like home he says.
Students also get 15% off, he says.