If you love South Indian Food, then this is surely for you.
Wait !! You also need to have Patience, Apettite and Drive to relish this food.
Last week, I was in Bangalore for a couple of days. There were three places on my agenda: Mavalli Tiffin Rooms (MTR), Vidyarthi Bhavan and Shri Sagar (CTR). Now, these three appeared to be in three different directions. So, had to attend to the work first. Then in the spare time available, had to visit these iconic eateries in the city which I could, to some extent. Here is the story…
Lunch at MTR, Lalbaug
We landed at this restaurant at around 230 and followed the crowd moving up to the first floor. A person, just outside the dining hall, perched up on a stool with a pad and a pen in his hand, signalled us to take the coupon from the counter on the ground floor. I ran down and was asked, “How many meals”? Ala carte is not available during lunch hours. I said two to the man at the counter. “520”, he asked of me. Paid and having armed with the slip I ran back and handed over to the guy on the enterance to let us in. He noted down the number in his pad, scribbled some number on the slip, handed me back the slip and signalled to wait. Then I realised that there were quite a few already waiting. After a short while I saw many diners coming out and then we were let in. It was a maze of dining rooms inside with one leading to another. You have to share tables and so,we were guided to one by the staff inside.
As soon as we settled down, a Thali and a glass was kept before us. No spoon (I had to ask for one). And yes, we were asked to submit our coupon back. And if we needed the coupon for records, one can get it back from the counter below on the way out. Quite an organised Standard Operating Procedure.
First of all, in a steel tumbler, we were served a dark red concoction. One can easily mistake it for Rasam or Kokum or Beetroot Juice. Sip it, and no, its Grape Juice perhaps with a mix of pomogranate. This surprise sets your mood for a great experience. Immediately, a person came and poured that great Coconut Chutney in your Thali. But this one was having a green tinge to it. I couldn’t resist and quickly tried a spoon of it. Ah! It had a flavour of mint, quite refreshing. Soon a mini sized Masala Dosa is put on to your Thali. Dark in colour, it has porous texture and seems quite inviting.
This Masala Dosa was fresh as ever, piping hot and was fluffy. The Aloo masala stuffing was mildly spiced and was quite flavourful. One didn’t suffice for me, so asked for a second helping which was served with a mechanical speed.
Next came on Aloo Subzi of two kinds, one with gravy and the other a dry version. Along with it came a dry preparation of Lentils, Greens, Grated Coconut which had a tempering of mustard seeds. We were served piping hot fluffy Puris with these.
Next came in Gur Pyasem, a southern version of Kheer and a piece of Burfi. Quite confused, we wrapped up enjoying these sweets.
That’s it ? Is the meal over? Though, internally we were not convinced.
After a gap minutes, our patience paid and were served Bisi Bele Bath, a concoction of Rice, Lentils, Veggies with a bouquet of flavours. It was a delight to savour that preparation. While I was enjoying the hot Bath, a cold veggies Raita was served. The addition of Raita took the Bath flavours to the next level.
While I wasn’t yet recovered from the Bath, Sambar Rice was served. The Sambar was golden in colour with veggies peeping out. Again a favourite curry served here with a difference and quite flavourful. It was thick in texture and had balanced flavours. Next came in my favourite Curd Rice (I had written about it earlier here). I enjoyed this creamy flavourful concoction to wrap up the hearty meal we have had.
Wait ! The meals story is yet not over.
We were then served with Kesari Bath, a safronised version of our very own Suji Halwa. It was quite a delight to enjoy this desi treat. Wait ! The desserts roundup was yet not over. We were then served a bowl of Fruit Ice Cream with cut fruits; an ensamble of colours, temperature and flavours. And finally we were handed over one South Indian Paan.
We were full and more than satisfied with a hearty and flavourful meal. Quite an experience.
Dinner at Shri Sagar (CTR) at Malleshwaram
In the evening, wading through the thick traffic, we reached this address – 7th Cross Malleshwaram (I hear an upmarket South Indian Restaurant has named a Dosa after this). This is a very basic restaurant with minimal and basic furniture. At around 830 in the evening, the place was doing brisk business and there was a waiting of about ten minutes.This place earlier known as Central Tiffin Room (CTR) is famous for its Benne Masala Dosa. Obviously, our order had to be this. “Benne” in Kannada language means Butter !!
In no time, a medium sized, dark coloured, Dosa, served in a yellow tray, along with two types of Coconut Chutneys landed on our table. These trays are their trademark. One of the Chutney was a regular one and the other had a colour and flavour of mint and corriander.
The Dosa gives you an enticing aroma of butter and waiting any further is impossible from the time it lands. A quick tear of a morsel told you it was super crisp on the outside and thickly fluffy inside. A sort of piece of an art. Once in the mouth it gives you a creaking sound followed by the smoothness of the fluffy buttery base. The Aloo Masala filling is infused with balanced spices. The taste would say that the size is small but by the time you finish it, you realise that you have had a hearty meal.
The meal was wrapped up with Kesari Bath and the traditional Filter Coffee (actually Kapi). Three of us paid a meagre sum of INR 231 for this princely meal.
Sadly, my plans of going to Vidyarthi Bhavan for breakfast next morning had to be aborted for the place is shut on Fridays.
I have to have breakfast as VB next time and can go to both of these places many times over. Its an experience of legendary simplicity and consistency of taste. If you have any such experience, do share.