Friday, January 18, 2008

Bicycle Canteens of Hyderabad

Bicycle canteens are the cheapest source of food in Hyderabad serving a specific segment of customers comprising of daily wage workers and other low income group population.

2 idlies (1 plate) costs Rs 25 inside Prasad's iMax while few meters away, on tank bund road, these bicycle canteens sell as much as 5 idlies for just five rupees. That's an idly a rupee.

I do not intend to make any positive or negative remarks about the hygiene factor or quality of ingredients used because I haven’t cross checked the same. But it appears there’s no such compromise on these parameters and these vendors operate on wafer this margin. I did eat once at such a shop and taste was decent. The same food will cost 10 times more inside iMax (or other posh malls/hotels) mainly because of overheads (rent, electricity, advertising, tax, salaries etc besides higher profit margins).

They are quite self sustained and eco friendly. They do collect all waste papers and leftovers and take them back home to dispose at proper place. I haven’t found them spoiling the environment except customers washing their hands..

Haven’t found such canteens (operated on cycles) in other cities like Chennai or Bangalore, though we get to see canteens on four wheeled carts in all cities.

Each cycle is fully loaded-with two containers carrying chutney in front, one big drum in the back (on luggage carrier) containing idlies, dosas and vadas, a big plastic bag hooked to left side which is to be used as dust bin, a plastic can hung to the seat carrying water (a mineral water bottle will be refilled from water in this can-and water is all purpose- for drinking, for washing hands and to dilute the chutney if required :) ) There can be additional bags and facilities to keep paper sheets (which serve as plates) and other accessories.

Not sure how much profit they make. With very low inventory carrying capacity, I think they can serve around 100-150 customers max with the food they can carry at once. Assuming a 10% profit (10 paise on Re 1 idly) they probably make around 100 rupees per session (assuming each customer spends around 5-10 Rs). Not sure if the sell lunch and dinner this way.


The Self-Proclaimed Wordsmith said...

The Chennai version of this is the 'kaieindhi bhavan', where food is served from a cart. There's one in T. Nagar that's supposed to be fantastic, from what I hear.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

That was almost an instant comment Wordsmith, thanks.

I've added two more paragraphs to the post. Be sure to check out.

sarvesh said...


Its been a long time, I have all your posts marked and just going through them one by one. That was a good account. These are also popular in Vizag from what I remember from my childhood. THey used to be pretty cheap then. Not sure of the Hyd versions. looking forward to try them during my Hyd visit soon.


Shrinidhi Hande said...


Vizag is a beautiful place-I have to visit once.

Thanks for all those comments.


hari said...

It's best to avoid the carts in Chennai.

These cycle canteens look more decent and looks like the food has been cooked in one place and then sent out... so it might be safer to eat those idlis.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Yes Hari, they cook them at home and then bring for sale. Better than the ones who cook at roadside.

Welcome back. you're commenting after pretty long time (direct comment on blogger I've been sending mails)