Mylapore has numerous food outlets that have existed for decades and manage to do brisk business even now. The area itself has an old-world charm associated with it. On a hot summer afternoon after walking around the area for some work, our throats felt parched and we were craving for something cool to refresh our souls. After a quick online research, we were enthused by the fact that we were close to the Kalathi News Mart located on East Mada Street that has been selling the best rosemilk in town for years now. It is literally hole-in-a-wall kind of place so make sure you ask around for the place, else you might miss it.
But once in the vicinity, it is hard to not notice people across socio-economic strata relishing the delicious pink concoction with a slight froth on the top and getting temporary relief from the scorching sun.
Kalathy News Mart was started by Kalathy Mudaliar in 1927 as a neighbourhood shop for household essential items like plantain leaves, lights and betel leaves, among other provisions. It even sold newspapers and magazines, and delivered publications to the doorsteps. Over the years, based on demands of the people staying in the area, the shop grew to sell more items including soda, tea and biscuits as well. But it was the rosemilk prepared at Kalathy kadai that became a huge hit in the area.
Today the shop is run by 63-year-old retired bank manager K Mani, grand nephew of Kalathi Mudaliar and his cousin Kumar. If you happen to visit the shop, you will surely notice how involved he is in the process of making the rosemilk at his shop. We were also informed that while the rosemilk was earlier prepared by using fresh milk from the cows, owned by Mani’s family; they now have moved on to pasteurised milk. The concentrate for the rose milk is prepared at home and then brought to the shop. People have often prodded K Mani about the details of the preparation process of the rosemilk but he says it’s his family’s secret recipe.
The shop sells close to 300 glasses if rosemilk on a daily basis and has caters to everyone from established names in theatre circuits, film actors, popular singers, businessmen, lawyers to students and young professionals.