The food scene in Bangalore has evolved greatly in the past few years, exploring various cuisines and concepts, right up to molecular gastronomy. But what remains inherent to the Bangalore eating out culture are the tiffin rooms and the darshinis, where anyone can simply stop by and have a plate of a piping hot tiffin and get going with their day. Unpretentious, humble food, served in no-nonsense eateries, some of which have been around since the 1920s, these are Bangalore’s favourite eating joints.
Most of them have strict hours of operation and limited items on their menu, but their down-to-earth pricing and quality that has stood the test of time, keeps the hoards of people coming in day after day. Anybody visiting Bangalore must make it a point to hop into a few of these tiffin rooms, for the typical Bengaluru experience.
When Mahindra Motors contacted me to be a part of the #GoGustoRides leading a bunch of food lovers on a tiffin trail around Bangalore, I jumped on the offer. My South Indian genes did a little jig at the thought of doing a tiffin-room-hopping. That too on a scooter, with friends, seemed too good to be true. For someone who lives in the newer parts of Bangalore, a trip to these iconic eateries seemed like a great Sunday morning plan.
While I don’t ride a scooter, I was to be riding with fellow bloggers, Archana Nivedith, and my friend, Prats, who is a pro at going around the bylanes of Bangalore on her 2-wheeler. What I loved about the features in the Mahindra Gusto, even as a pillion rider, were the front compartment to keep my mobile, the adjustable seat height (perfect for a shorty like me) and the little hanger in the front, from where you can hang your shopping bag or handbag. Little practical conveniences!
Sunday morning dawned early. We were at the Mahindra showroom at Basavangudi by 6.45am. The fellow 8 food-lovers gathered and by 7.45 am or so, our scooters were flagged off.
Vidyarthi Bhavan, Basavangudi
Since we started off from Basavangudi, it was a no brainer to make Vidyarthi Bhavan our first stop. This place, started in 1943, draws up a crowd as soon as they open at 6.30am! Our group reached Vidyarthi Bhavan shortly after 8am, and there was a huge crowd waiting outside. We made ourselves busy by walking around the beautiful flower stalls on the footpath, tummy rumbles not withstanding.
Since most of us had left our homes very early in the morning, by the time we could be seated, all of us were ravenous and we literally ordered one of everything on their menu. Their masala dosa, thick, with a crisp golden brown exterior, housing a generous portion of the potato curry, served with a coconut chutney and sambar is the stuff of legends. The most expensive item on the menu is a Sagu Masala Dosa for Rs.42. The golden brown, crisp vada dunked in sambar, the chow-chow baath- which is a portion each of khara baath (the local upma) and kesari baath (a sweet semolina dish) and fluffy idlis were all demolished within minutes. You don’t wonder whether to order coffee here, you just order it by default. It is proper filter coffee, piping hot and frothed up just right. Just this coffee is worth the drive from wherever you are in Bangalore!
A masala dosa + filter coffee at Vidyarthi Bhavan will cost you Rs.55
Next stop, MTR, Lalbagh
Another landmark eatery in Bangalore that opened as early as 1924, still standing proud. There are people who say it is overrated and only of nostalgic value. But going for a meal in a restaurant that started over a 90 years ago, that is something for me! By the time our #goGustoRides group reached here, the breakfast session was kind of waning, but we did have to queue up here too, for at least a good 10 minutes. Since we had already stuffed ourselves on the dosa and vada at the previous stop, we decided to try some of the MTR specials – the rava idli, mosaru vade (dahi vada), pongal and their famous badam milk. No one quite does rava idli like the MTRs, and one plate of rava idli has just one idli but this is not without reason. The rava idli is way more filling than a regular idli, despite being soft, fluffy and melt in your mouth. We would have loved to order the Bisi Bele Baath here, but it was not available that morning. The dahi vada is a single large vada, covered with whisked dahi, spices and a tempering of mustard seeds and curry leaves, served with some spicy boondi on the side
A rava idli + Badam milk will cost you Rs.113 at MTR, Lalbagh
Next stop, Hallimane, Malleshwaram
The 6+ km ride from MTR to Hallimane was a joyride in the truest sense of the word. A breezy Bangalore morning, roads wide open (thank you, Sunday), wispy clouds on a powder blue sky, made a perfect foil for the #GoGustoRide. Hallimane, located in a bylane of Malleshwaram is known for its rural Karnataka cuisine. While they do serve the regular stuff like idlis, masala dosa, what you must try here are the Akki and Ragi Rotti – rotis made using rice flour and ragi flour respectively. That they have a special counter dedicated to these two items, on the footpath outside, says how popular they are. Served with a coconut chutney, a podi and a butter that just melts over the hot-off-the-griddle rotti is rustic bliss on a plate. The coffee at just Rs.10 is one of my favourites, freshly brewed decoction and hot milk coming together in a small glass tumbler to give you the best filter coffee experience
Akki Rotti + coffee will cost you Rs.40 at Hallimane
We wrapped up our ride at Hallimane with lots of group photos, bidding adieu to new friends made during the course of the ride and a promise to come back and revisit more such tiffin rooms in the near future
Thank you, Mahindra Scooters, for organising this utterly scrumptious food ride that will be cherished for a long time to come!
View the album with all photos from the trip on my Facebook page
More photos on the Mahindra Scooters Facebook page
If you plan to do a similar tiffin trail, the other places you can include are Veena Stores, CTR and New Krishna Bhavan in Malleshwaram, New Modern Home and Brahmin’s Coffee Bar in Basavangudi
(c) Nandita Iyer 2006-2015