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Know Your City: The beef hub of Chennai – Dadashamakan

The regular customers here claim that no other area in the city can match the quality of beef that is available in Dadashamakan, an area close to Otteri in northern Chennai.

Dadashamakan is home to shops offering customers a variety of food items.

When an outsider is asked to describe Chennai, they may speak highly about the beaches, Carnatic music sabas, historical venues like churches and museums, and food, referring to idli and sambar. But there is much more to this city, like the Dadashamakan, which is often referred to as the hub of beef in Chennai.

Dadashamakan, an area close to Otteri in northern Chennai, is a predominantly Muslim neighbourhood with a population of around 5,000. The area is home to shops offering customers a variety of food items. The regular customers here claim that no other area in the city can match the quality of beef that is available here. They claim even the prices are less in comparison with other areas in the city.

S Ziya Ullah (43), the Masjid e Akbar joint secretary, says the area got its name owing to Mahaan (religious leader) Dada Peer.

Regular customers claim even the prices are less in comparison with other areas in the city.

“Our ancestors told us that Hazarath Syed Hussian Peyarey Janullah Sha Khadria Shutaria (Uraf) Dada Peer (Rah) came to this place from Karnataka about 600 years ago. People started to come to this place to listen to his spiritual discourses. The nawab who was ruling here during those days, hearing about the services of Dada Peer and after meeting him and being inspired by his noble qualities, gifted this land to Hazarath. The disciples of Dada Peer started to settle in the area to offer him services.

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“The area was referred to as Dadashamakan and later it became Dashamakan. Makan means house; the name Dashamakan refers to the house of Dada Peer. In olden times, the followers of Dada Peer used to light a lamp behind his tomb at the dargah. They used to come back the next day and take some oil that was used in lighting the lamp and apply it on their head or forehead as they believed it would cure their illness. Even now, people are following this custom,” he says.

S Ziya Ullah (43), the Masjid e Akbar joint secretary, says the area got its name owing to Mahaan (religious leader) Dada Peer.

Imran, 43, who runs The Old Shop, says different varieties of beef items are available in the locality. “I have been running the shop for over four decades. Seekh kebab, veal kebab, phaal, and beef shawarma, are some of the varieties that are sold here in large numbers. I inherited this shop from my father and have been running it despite several hurdles. But I am not sure whether my future generation will continue in this business… My son is now pursuing computer science in a city college and he says he doesn’t want to run this business,” Imran says.

Explaining the reason for the availability of ‘top-notch’ quality beef in the locality, Imran says before the animals reach the slaughterhouse, a veterinarian inspects them and provides a stamp that these animals can be consumed. After the completion of this process at the slaughterhouse, the meat is cleaned at the shops, and later supplied to customers.

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Imran, 43, who runs The Old Shop, says different varieties of beef items are available in the locality.

Mohammed Sultan, 61, says about 80 kg meat is used in their shops daily, while some of it is sent to their branches in other parts of the city. He adds the meat available here is primarily beef and only 10 per cent is chicken.

He notes his grandfather came to this area in 1912 and his family continues to reside in this part of Chennai. He hopes that even his sons and future generations will live in Dadashamakan.

“I had been running the shop here for over 40 years. I started the Latif Biryani Shop here in 1975, when bus tickets used to be 10 paise. There are around 52 shops here. From 8 am to 11 pm, you will get everything here. Everything is halal here, we get cattle, and chicken from many areas including Puducherry, Theevanur, Acharapakkam, Vandavasi, and even from some areas in Andhra Pradesh. Though we can manage our expenses and continue to run the business, people should remember – and I tell this to even my family members and colleagues – that not everyone is successful here. Several people have lost their income, and many have taken up other jobs and moved to other places. Nowadays, several restrictions have been imposed by the authorities and they affect our business,” he says.

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The Latif Biryani Shop established in 1975.

Sultan adds that prices of beef items have gone up as many non-Muslim populations including Hindus have started to consume beef.

“Business happens throughout the year, per day close to 150 people visit each shop here. Some shops may get more customers… Many people will drop by shops in Dashamakan, while commuting to other areas in the city, to buy a parcel of their favourite item… You won’t find a space to stand here on the weekends, as a large number of families visit their favourite shops,” Sultan says.

Locals say the entire area gets into a festive mood during the birth anniversary of Dada Peer. They claim even people from other areas visit this place during the festival to seek the blessings of Mahaan.

Locals say the entire area gets into a festive mood during the birth anniversary of Dada Peer.

Raheema, 56, a resident of Dadashamakan who works in the Nisar Beef Shop for close to six years, says she is involved in all sorts of work from chopping the meat, cleaning them and maintaining the shop. She claims the quality of beef available here is not found in other areas of the city. She adds that people from other places like Madurai and Sivakasi visit this place regularly as they like the beef sold here.

Nirmal Narayanan, 20, says, “Beef is a healthy food and it protects against many diseases.” He says he eats beef at least thrice a week. “The area is very hygienic. Even during Covid-19, this place was buzzing because of the quality of the meat here,” he notes. Narayanan adds that he likes eating beef and he is not worried about people who raise an issue about it.

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Raheema, 56, a resident of Dadashamakan who works in the Nisar Beef Shop for close to six years, says she is involved in all sorts of work from chopping the meat, cleaning them and maintaining the shop.

The Babu Biryani Kadai, A1 Beef Stall, and The Old Shop are some of the popular eateries that have been operating from this neighbourhood for over 40 years.

“Once I got my friends to taste the biryani here and since then whenever they visit Chennai, their first plan would be to head to Dashamakan to have a plate of biryani. I come here at least twice or thrice a week. The quality of beef biryani here can never be matched outside,” says a customer at Babu Biryani.

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Faisal, who hails from Perambur, says all the food items available in this area are organic and they don’t have any added artificial flavours.

Faisal, who hails from Perambur, says all the food items available in this area are organic and they don’t have any added artificial flavours.

“This is good for one’s health. Beef is very special to me; I will eat as much as you give me. This is not some food item that we should feel scared to eat,” he says.

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Another customer Baskaran, who was waiting with his son Hari Ganesh for his order outside a shop, says despite resistance from his family, he loves to eat beef and that is the reason why he comes to this place often. “We know this is good for health, so we eat here,” he notes.

First published on: 13-09-2022 at 08:00:18 am
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