Often called the ‘Blue Bells Biryani shop’ or the ‘Recharge shop Biryani’, Devaprasad Enterprises never fails to impress. Found in a little nook next to Blue Bells, the women’s hostel, Mr. Devaprasad’s store has been a source of joy to the students of St. Joseph’s College for the past 10 years. Mr. Devaprasad worked as an accountant at Mysore Lamp, a government company, but when it was shut down, he was forced to find another source of income. He opened a stationery store a little inside Akkitimanahalli, but the store wasn’t a success. It was then that he noticed that the students of St. Joseph’s College Shantinagar, often had to resort to eating egg puffs and basic bakery items during their breaks. It was then that he decided to open a store to sell food. He began with a sandwich shop that sold jam and butter sandwiches, cheese sandwiches, and vegetarian sandwiches too. With a fast increasing demand, his business began blooming, and soon, he received requests for food that would be a little more filling. He then began selling puliogere and lemon rice. Soon, the students began asking for something with a little meat in it, and that was what led to his infamous chicken biryani.
Mr. Devaprasad, a man who had never cooked in his life, decided that he would make chicken biryani. He looked up recipes online, spoke with the people he knew, tried various recipes, using a range of spices in different proportions, making different quantities. Forty times he tried making biryani, and forty times he failed. It was his forty-first attempt that provided a rhythm of sorts to his biryani making and created the recipe that the students love. Numerous people asked him to quit during his trials, but he persevered and after year, he achieved his goal. Mr. Devaprasad and his wife now make about 4 kilograms worth biryani each day. Being the only people involved in the business, they make only the one kind of food, as providing a variety of food would be a difficult task.
“In the beginning, chicken biryani was only 25 rupees, and the egg biryani cost 20 rupees per plate. After that, gradually the prices are going high.” He began selling biryani in the year 2008 and increased his prices by rupees five each year. Now, the chicken biryani is priced at 50 and the egg biryani at 40. Victims of inflation that they are, Mr. and Mrs. Devaprasad continue to make biryani for the students, unable to find it in their hearts to increases their prices to match current times. One of his main aims is to help students because they buy food with their pocket money and have a set allowance.
Mr. Devaprasad often finds students sitting outside his little store as early as 11:30 in the morning, hoping to be first in line for the much-loved biryani. Many of the students eating from here, are from North-East India and are exceedingly fond of it. They even help him in bettering his recipes, he says.
One of the issues he faces is the loss faced on the days that the students have holidays. Unaware, he makes his usual quantity which goes to a waste, as the students are his only customers. “It is not a good business. Because I own I house and my son is earning, I can manage. If I had to run the house with that money it is really a great loss. However, it is moving.” He says.
Having noticed the crowd that rushes for biryani every day, Mr. Devaprasad was also asked to facilitate mobile recharge in his store. Soon after, he was approached with sellers selling Ice creams as well. However, the summer months prove to be a total loss, as his customers are on holiday. Furthermore, the lack of electricity is also a cause of load shedding, which leads to a loss.
One of his most cherished memories, is from the year 2005, during the year he sold sandwiches, that the students of St. Joseph’s presented him with a handmade card, showing him their gratitude. It is a token of appreciation that he still keeps with him. Ex-students still visit him to this day, craving for the biryani that stays close with the memories of their college days.