There’s tiffin beyond kharabhath
Priya Bala | Editor, PoshVine
Last week, a very dear friend, old Bangalorean and devoted foodie, took me to the Ganeshotsav at the APS College grounds in Basavangudi. It’s as good a public cultural festival as you will get in these parts with an array of rivetting performances by top-of-the-line artistes. The previous week it was the magnificent Ilayaraja in concert. Missed that, drat! But we managed to make it to the show by the energetic Sivamani, Vikku Vinayakram, Selvaganesh and Rajesh Vaidya.
Those who despair that mall-going is the popular recreation in Bangalore, would’ve been heartened to see the turn-out – people of all ages, young couples with babies, techies still toting their laptops from work, lots of senior citizens. They all came for an evening of music. Oh, and the other big draw at this particular Ganeshotsav is the food stalls set up by the Adigas group.
It was a tribute of the culinary heritage of Karnataka and what a fabulous spread it was. Each stall was devoted to a particular region of this diverse state: There was neer dosa and coconut curries from the coastal belt, the soft akki rotis of Malnad to be eaten with averakalu in a mild spice mixture, whole brinjals cooked Uttara Karnataka style and a dish I’d never tasted before from the Hale Mysore stall. It was shavige bisi bele bhath, with rice vermicelli taking the place of rice. Slightly sweet, packed with veggies and topped with crushed chips, it was delightful. Delhi papads, from the `exhibitions’ of our childhood and masala lemon soda were also on offer.
I saw people tucking in with enthusiasm, browsing through the stalls, picking a Mangalore bonda here and a chilli bajji there. The food was all about earthy, southern flavours and wonderfully wholesome.
Which brings me to the question – why don’t regular Bangalore restaurants that offer idli-dosa-vada- kharabhath ever serve these regional specials? They can’t be that hard to make or serve, so why are we stuck with the limited darshini menu at every turn? These homespun fast food eateries seem only too happy to add a chaat counter and serve Gobi Manchurian, but won’t think of shavige bisibele bhath.
Bangalore could well do with restaurants serving the state’s very own cuisine, with its vast vegetarian repertoire. I hope Mr Vasudev Adiga is reading this.