Inspiration has struck at last dear readers! I have found my elusive muse, she captures all my senses and always leaves me asking for a second helping. It’s time we meet another true love of mine – food! They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Well gentlemen, the way to my heart is also through my stomach. So if you’re looking to win my heart, all you need is some rad culinary skills or the dough to afford one with said skills.
Coming from a khaata peetha khandaan (translation: eating-drinking family i.e. a family which loves food and eating), I don’t just love eating, I live to eat. Spicy, savoury, salty, sweet, you name it and I like it. Food is the biggest reason why I can’t wait to rush back home every year. My mum is an excellent cook but since I can’t invite you all home for dinner, here’s my list of favourite places to stuff my face in my hometown.
I find the best food to be associated with memories. It always takes you back to a place, incident or person. It doesn’t just leave you with a warm and full tummy but also a very warm and full heart. These are the places closest to my heart. I’ve been a loyal customer in most of these places for the better part of my life and in some cases, even before. This is food I grew up with and which laid the base for my love of food.
Sri Sagar: Or what most people in Malleshwaram know it as CTR aka Central Tiffin Room, is always packed! I remember going here as a kid, back then it was much smaller than it is now and it used to be packed. Fast forward twenty years and the crowd remains the same. All that has changed is the size of the masala dosa and of course the price. Inflation Sir! It doesn’t matter when you turn up, you will never find a place free. Trust me, I have tried. I live about 800 metres away and I’ve tried different times of the day. You will have to wait. And the trick to getting a seat? Stand around the tables and gaze hungrily at their food. Don’t bother with families with small kids, you’ll just earn ugly looks instead, go for the mid-aged groups. They are most likely to be sympathetic to your stomachs cravings. Bonus points for tummy rumble! Order while you stand so that your hot benne masale (butter masala dosa) greets you as you finally get to park your backside. The Mangaluru bajjies are another speciality here.
Sri Raghavendra stores: Or Railway station idli as my sister and I know it. Why? because it’s right in front of the Malleswaram Railway Station. Despite my mother’s aforementioned cooking skills, she makes the most awful idlis. I love the woman but not those idlis. They’re dry, crumbly and everything else that will make you hate idlis. To compensate for it, we get a treat some Sundays in the form of hot, melt in your mouth soft idlis. They are like little cloud pillows. Especially if you are eating at the store and get some butter on top. I usually get 2 idlis, 2 vadas and a kesari baath to go now-a-days. I call it my 1 euro breakfast because it all adds up to about a euro.
Koshy’s: This is yet another of the old school places around Bangalore. I’ve just realised that I’ve only ever been to Koshy’s for lunch. Strange! Anyway, Koshy’s is known for it’s continental and malabar cuisine. Strange mix, I know. Their breakfast spread has rave reviews but unfortunately, 25 years and I’ve never tried it. Like I said before, only Lunch. What I can recommend is their fish and chips but my absolute favourite has to be their Biryani. Unlike most biryanis which are spicy and heavy this is the Malabar version. It is light, aromatic and flavourful while not being overwhelming. That is an achievement!
Sri Sai Ram Chats: Also known as Rams. Please note, I’m not talking about the one near MES college. This is the original and now relocated onto Temple Road. I’ve been going to Rams since I was in 9th standard and Rams was in a Garage. My friends and I used to order almost everything on the menu (back then it was not as long) and chocolate milk shake. We all used to eat at least 2 plates of chaats per person on a daily basis. Mahesh uncle, who runs the store, is someone I know since then and who still recognises me even though I now go only once a year. There are a lot of things to recommend in Rams – from the chips masala to the Sai Ram special, a lot of Rams chaats are store specialities which can’t be found anywhere else. I order based on my mood but my staple is a grape juice with less sugar and more salt and pepper. Yes! Loyalty gets you customised orders.
Sweet Chariot: Another Bangalore staple, Sweet Chariot is known for their pastries, birthday cakes and other snacks in general. You can find outlets all over Bangalore, if not there are always smaller bakeries which get their food. Unfortunately, the closest Sweet Chariot is on MG Road and going their often is not exactly an option. However, there was a small bakery close to where my mum worked which got stuff from Sweet Chariot. Now, my absolute favourite form Sweet Chariot is their Japanese cake. I have no idea why it’s called that, it has nothing to do with Japan, believe me I’ve done my research. But it’s so hard to resist that cream filling sandwiched between two crunchy layers. This small bakery received freshly baked japanese cakes every Thursday and without fail, I would call my mum to get me one just before she left work for home. These days, I always eat one and pick up another to go whenever I am in MG Road. Another favourite of mine here is the plum cake you get during Christmas. Rich, moist and just so so good!! I can’t wait for December and it’s only May now!
Lakeview Milkbar: Most Bangaloreans will swear by Corner house ice cream. Now in all fairness I do like corner house, but when I’m miles away like I am right now, it’s the ice cream at Lakeview that I miss. Lake view Milkbar is one of the oldest eateries you can find in Bangalore. Today they occupy a blink and you’ll miss place on MG Road. But if you’re in MG Road after a night out you are sure to see the Lakeview waiters standing outside, by the road, menus in hand. Having been a loyal customer longer than my life, I recognise a couple of the staff. One uncle (I’ve known them forever so it feels weird to call them waiters) even remembers my order – Veg cutlet and chocolate ice cream with cream and nuts. Having tired almost everything on the menu, these are my favourites. The veg cutlet is one of the best I have ever eaten and the ice cream is just something else. You will be hard pressed to find something like it anywhere else.
Tandoor: Another place on MG Road that I absolutely love. This is a restaurant that my dad used to bring any guests we had on any special occasions. Everything from the decour to the cutlery in Tandoor is old school. The chandelier and the painting on the walls is from another era. The food is every bit as luxurious as the ambience. I sincerely recommend their seekh kabab. I’ve tried other restaurants that serve north indian/Mughal cuisine but I am yet to find one that stands up to Tandoor. The kebabs are exquisite! The meat is tender and every single mouthful is filled with rich flavour – try it with the chutney it is served with and I challenge you to get to the main course! Another Tandoor staple I miss is the garlic naan. You will never again eat a garlic naan in any other place once you’ve had it here! Even when you do, it’ll just feel so wrong!!
I have to stop here before I make gluttons out of you all and before I burst into tears thinking about all my favourite dishes that I have to wait for another seven months to eat. It is 2:30 in the night on a working night as I type this. So never question my dedication to food!!
Have you eaten at any of the places mentioned? Do you have any stories associated with them? Drop a line below!