I was in Bangalore for a little less than two weeks, fully determined to eat every meal outside of home. Living in South Bangalore, I enjoy the luxury of having several celebrated south indian breakfast joints quite close to home and so it didn’t take a lot of orchestration to go put thindi there. Given that I don’t get to eat at these places as often anymore, I optimised for experiences worth remembering and I had some pretty interesting revelations – such as chutney at SN is amazing, and sambar at maiyyas is super and so on. It’s easy to forget these little revelations and be consumed by the cult value of these eateries, and hence, I want to make this diary entry.
As dutiful fans of Mahalakshmi Tiffin Room (MLTR), Basavanagudi, we paid our homage to this holy shrine the day we landed in Bangalore. Now, I must provide some context as to why the husband and I love this place. In September 2009, when the husband and I met for the first time, we put beat around Gandhi Bazaar, to avoid continued eye contact (that you’d have in a coffee shop) and to morph the general awkwardness of meeting a friend off the internet. It was too much fun (and resulted in a marriage), and so, in 2010, we wanted to re-trace the beat. As we started walking down the Gandhi Bazaar main road opposite Vidyarthi Bhavan, we saw this small pre-darshini style Bangalore restaurant on our left, which we hand’t noticed the last time, probably because they were closed for Dasara.
We walked straight in, happily sat on the old style wooden benches, were amused at sign boards like “please don’t wash your hands in your plate”, “family section”, a stack of newspaper pieces to wipe hands and a wooden shelf hoarding “cool drinks”. The food at MLTR is good, not out of the world, but we love this place because of how we discovered it, how low key it is – the decor is plain, they aren’t trying to be anything they are not, waiters are humble and the ops is plain-ass simple, and of course, because they have a family section (which needs atleast one woman per table).
The khaali dose here is famous because it’s soft, fluffy, etc., but you see, over the years now, I have discovered that I am not such a big fan of khaali dose, I prefer crispy doses. I like their vade dippu (slang for vada dipped in sambar) and their coffee, which is a tad bit sweet for someone who prefers their coffee bitter and so you better remember to say “sakre kammi” if you’d like. We usually leave a generous tip every time we visit this place because the food is very humbly priced for the experience.
Within a few metres from MLTR is Vidyarthi Bhavan, which we don’t go to as often because it tends to be too touristy on weekends, which is usually when one steps out for breakfast. Until this winter, I’d been to Vidyarthi Bhavan twice – once with my parents when I was 5, had lost a painting contest and needed consolation, and then with the husband 6 years ago on a south bangalore thindi yatra. Thankfully being NRI and all, we were vela during the week and could also afford to eat overpriced dosas (Rs.56 for a std benne masale – which are 1.5x the price in any regular restaurant) without much guilt.
Now, the dosas here are a very different breed, they are thick yet crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and made of red rice. The palya inside is soft and tasty, and the oil/ ghee all around brings together the whole experience quite nicely making us pay a 2nd visit within a week. The chutneys and sambars were very madhuve mane types, and so was the chow chow bath. Coffee was alright, nothing to remember.Ops is pretty straightforward again, there’s one guy to seat you, one guy to take your order, serve and bring you the bill and another to clean your table. The only one thing that was amusing was the waiter who kept bringing a napkin after each course as opposed to keeping a stack of them on the table.
Now having done my bit as a tourist, it was time to get local and so, we visited Shankaranarayana (SN) in JP Nagar which also serves pretty good masala dose. It’s a tiny restaurant that was introduced to me by the husband a few years ago as being a great restaurant for idli vade. There are a couple of high tables by which you can stand and eat. Now, the cashier sometimes doubles up as the guy who runs the dosa pass, but I am still amazed by their dosa ops because that dude remembers exactly who orders how many dosas. I am less impressed with the idli vade counter because you have to give your receipt and stand around as a way to remind him that you are next in line. However, their chutney is sexy. The coconut used in the chutney is so sweet and yummy. Coffee is nothing memorable, but it was the first time I watched someone make a “sakre kammi” coffee as the barista fills the cup with sugary filk followed by plain milk (which is obvious I know, but still!)
The thing with most of these restaurants is that they are pretty crowded and form a huge part of the ambience, but it takes tremendous amount of enthu to make a trip to any of these places when you wake up late and you realize you don’t have your own bike/ car to make a breakfast trip. So, we did Swiggy breakfast a couple of times – once from Kottureshwara/ Grameena thindi and another time for Maiyyas, both in 4th block (down the road from home). Now, the thing with dosa, it’s best eaten hot of the griddle, and when not, it’s like eating a piece of semi dried cloth. So, I can’t say much about dosas from either of these places except that Maiyyas puts a chutney into the dosa and kottureshwara serves it plain because it’s davanagere benne dosa style. While Maiyyas sambar is the epitome of kannada sambar (sweet unlike tamil sambar), Kottureshwara serves some kickass chutney. The unique thing about the chutney is the use of cardamom, which is signature style of davanagere chutney. Oh, kottureshwara also serves cheap coffee, which used to be 8 bucks at one point, but god knows how much it is now.
This wasn’t meant to be a post reviewing thindi teertha at different eateries across south Bangalore, but when you try to write a blogpost over 3 weeks, you can’t help but forget where you started. Anyway, I am happy to have biassed your opinions about these addas. kthnxbai.