By Parnika Singh
Bangalore is a gourmand’s utopia. It’s a place lined up with gloriously lavish cafes on one side and on the other it’s a place every street food lover could ever dream of, an epicurean paradise. From piping hot idlis served with spicy sambhar for a breakfast lover to sublime seekh kebabs with tangy green chutney for a meat devotee, Bangalore street food serves all, Donne Biryani being one of its highlights.
If you are from here you already know what makes this biryani unique but if you aren’t, here is a little information about it – It’s special type of biryani comprising of an intoxicating blend of spices- coriander, mint, cardamom and cinnamon grounded together, slow cooked in lots of ghee and served in a donne (a bowl made from palm leaves) with an aroma that hits your heart and pieces so tender that they melt in your mouth. If you ever happen to come to Bangalore, do make it a point to indulge in this delicacy at the Shivaji Military Hotel that serves the best donne biryani. Located in Jayanagar, Shivaji Military Hotel is a humble and crowded place that stays busy throughout the day and you rarely get a full table for yourself. So if you happen to find an empty chair on someone else’s table, you better seat yourself there or you won’t even get a place to sit. The biryani is served along with a spicy rasam and some cucumber and onion salad to enhance its already exotic flavour. The recipe is a secret and is only known to the chefs- the two Rao brothers that also happen to own the place. And it’s not just the biryani that this place is famous for, you can also order from a variety of kebabs, chicken dry or mutton paya soup and you won’t be disappointed it, plus it’s light on the pocket too.
If you are more of an all day breakfast kind of person, Central Tiffin Room; another buzzing Bangalore icon is the right place for you. Standing on 7th Cross in Malleshwaram, CTR is a two floored, busy building with wooden seats on the ground floor and cushioned ones on the top. Be patient while you visit this place as you’ll have to hunt for seats, grabbing them soon as they get empty and also wait for 20 to 30 minutes for your order to arrive. But it’s all worth it in the end when you have a bite of their signature benne masala dosa served in yellow plastic plates with pudina and coconut chutney (they don’t serve sambhar). The crunch of the crispy butter fried dosa while you tear your bites is music to the ears and the generous helping of butter in the stuffing makes you swoon with its flavour, richness and aroma and is just enough to not clog your arteries.
You can also try their Kali(set) Dosas, bhajjis, chow chow bath, khara bath with a classic filter coffee( pronounced as Filter Kaapi) and if you have a sweet tooth, do yourself a favour and do have their kesari bath, a preparation of semolina, sugar, ghee, water and milk with cardamom and kesar to add the flavour.
Moving onto the food streets; Bangalore has quite a few of them. First on the list is the VV Puram Food Street also known as the VV Puram Thindi Beedi, a 300 metre stretch crowded with food stalls, all of it worth trying. And because you can’t have all of it at once although you want to, here is a list of all the must haves at this Mecca of street food in Bangalore: Congress bun and creamy puffs at the V.B. bakery, Chaat and dabeli at Dev Sagar(do not forget to try the unique rasgulla chaat), Capsicum, chilli and potato bhajjis at the Bhajji Stall, South Indian snacks at Ramu Tiffin Centre, Idli Mane and Arya Vysya Refreshments, Indo-Chinese rolls like gobi Manchurian and baby corn rolls at Sri Subramanya Chinese Fast Food Centre and to end your food walk on a sweet note have some butter gulkun ice cream from Shivanna Gulkun Centre.
Next up on our list we have Shivajinagar Street, a complete paradise for all the meat lovers located between MG Road area and the Cantonment. The moment you enter this food street, you can hear the clinking, the sizzle and the hiss of a kadai or a tandoor kept on coal lit stoves or gas burners cooking up your favourite kebab or frying your crunchy samosa and spreading it’s beckoning aroma, luring you in. Stop by at the Royal Restaurant to grab a cup of Suleimani Chai served in old fashioned tea cups with some samosas (available in vegetable or meat versions) and bite into the crunchy yet juicy goodness that has just been fried and taken out of the kadai. You can also go to Savera if you are someone who loves trying tea from different places. The Suleimani Chai here is a bit different with a hint of lime in it and you can have it with some nan khatai to pass your evenings or to give rest to your 2 a.m. tea cravings. Moving on, to feast on meat you can choose from a variety of food stalls and it won’t matter which one you pick because all of them have a similar menu; an assortment of delicious kebabs ready to be served to the waiting customers. You can have mutton, beef, quail, chicken all wrapped in a variety of spicy marinades at just one place. And if you are more of a sit and eat in peace kind of person, you can go to to Grand Hamza or the North Indian Hotel and dig into a plate of nice and wholesome beef biryani and some bheja fry. But between all this, the showstopper has to be Iqbal Dressed Chicken Centre, a place that serves you iddiyappams with a wide range of succulent kebabs; be it mutton fry, beef fry or seekh kebabs that are bound to melt in your mouth. Moving towards the end of this food walk, don’t forget to indulge in some sweetness at the M.K. Lassi stall, a 33 year old place famous for its Hareera and Sweet Lassi and is open till midnight.
If a place like Shivajinagar food street delights your palate, you are bound to love the Johnson Street. From mouth watering seekh kebabs to something as simple as dilpasand, this place serves you everything in the heart of the city, like a treasure trove of street food. Visit Fanoos if you are in the mood for some rolls or a shawarama or you can go to the Siddique Kebab Center if you want to have some kebabs. And if you feel like having some nice biryani or a hearty Indian non vegetarian meal head over to Khazana and try some veal kebab, phal(grilled meat) with a plate of beef biryani. Though if you are short on time and are just passing by this place during the evening, stop by at the Makkah Cafe to buy yourself a cup of tea with some hareera or samosas, sit down on one of those wooden benches and enjoy looking at the hustle and bustle of the city.
If we are talking about food and we don’t mention Kormangala, it’s a crime. Kormangala is loaded with eateries- from fine-dine restaurants to street-side carts, it has everything to put an end to your food search. Starting at 5 p.m. in the evening, the fairly organised food street of Kormangala, right opposite to the Forum Mall has an interesting mix of street food-pao bhaji, momos, Indian-chinese , pani puri, 99 varieties of dosa, it has it all and before you get confused, here is a list of where to have it from : Pao bhaji from Bombay Bhaji stall, Bread Omelette And Fried Boiled Eggs from Santosh’s Bread Omelette, Momos And Soup from Hot Momos, Pyaz Kachori from Kota Kachori, Chinese noodle dosa from 99 variety dosa and Daal Baati from Shri Shyam Thali. And if you happen to be a fan of Tibetan cuisine, don’t miss out on Khawa Karpo, a place serving authentic Tibetan food with their thukpa and chicken shaptak to die for. Also, do visit Hatti Kaapi if you are a coffee lover. They serve the quintessential filter kaapi and along with it 8 other varieties of cold coffee served with idli, masala bun or a samosa to make your evenings and coffee complete.
Our last stop is at Indranagar, a crowded place where you’ll have to walk and explore the streets, but the effort is all worth it in the end. Head over to Khan Saheb for some delicious crunchy rolls- paneer tikka roll and reshmi chicken tikka are their must haves, otherwise if you are more of a dosa person then you go to Om Sai Skanda Dosa Camp for some Tamil-style south Indian cuisine and hog on as many idlis, dosas and uttapams as you want to. Talking about drinks, Lassi Point and Tea-brew are the best places to have milkshakes, mocktails and tea in this area.
And while you are thinking that this is the end of all the places you could go to indulge in some deliciousness in Bangalore, we have more. There are a lot of other places scattered around that serve you equally great food and a similar street food experience, like the Shahi Darbar in Yeshwanthpur, Karnataka Bhel House in Basvangudi, Sri Sairam’s Chat in Malleshwaram and Puchki’s in Marathalli to name a few.
So this is Bangalore for you, a melting pot of cultures with great food and equally amazing weather to make your food quest memorable.