I was invited a few days ago to do my first ever food review at the Ganesha Utsav which takes place every year at the A.P.S College Grounds in Basavanagudi, Bangalore. I’ve written about Politics, Sports and most prominently Travel and Photography clubbed together but there’s always a first time to everything, no matter how cliche that sounds. The most interesting and yet ironic subject, quite clearly was the person doing the review, ME, has probably the worst apetite in the world and in a way might just add a new angle, if any, to all the delicacies served that evening.
I landed there to be escorted to the food stalls which of course was quite overwhelmingly claustrophobic with all the smell of the dishes that were associated with various parts of Karnataka. Hosted by one of Bangalore’s top Fast Food chains, Adiga’s, it couldn’t have been a better start ( like the branding makes a difference). To start off with actually, my wasn’t on an empty stomach. The history being, I was flying off to the UK in a couple of weeks so I was with friends all afternoon at another Cafe. This, to add to my horrible apetite. But there’s something about certain kinds of food and the aroma, no matter how badly stuffed you are, you can manage to eat as much as you want, as though there existed a new/bottomless stomach. I hoped today was one of those days with one of those feelings. I was then introduced to one of the staff members who would then take me around to taste all the food, made fresh, in small quantities, just for me 🙂
To start off with, I was given some chaat to taste and I don’t know how this was associated with anything to do with being ‘local’ but it was appetising anyway. I’d avoid it if I wanted something authentic. Like DUH! The next counter is where it all started and from then on I was in a different world. I was given a plate of SHAVIGE BISIBELE BATH. Bisibele Bath is usually made using rice but this was a speciality from Mysore and it was made from Vermicelli. It didn’t taste as interesting as it looked. Although delicious, you tend to set high standards when you have other dishes competing too right? Next was South India’s and India’s favourite South Indian food – The Masala Dosa. And one thing I have to say, there’s no one who can make it better than any of the fast food places in Bangalore and this was really right up there. It was crisp and I did have one of those ‘melting in the mouth’ moments. Next I was thrust with a plate of SHAVIGE CHITHRANNA. Literally translates into Mango rice made instead with Vermicelli. I’m not a big fan of the Mango rice in general, but this wasn’t too bad, but not good enough to increase my love for the same.
I was then escorted to the next stall where the food came from the Northern region of the State. My first dish happened to be the RAGI KILSA, which personally was my favourite of the evening. It was a sweet, looked more like a HALWA from another store but it had the right amount of sweetness to it and I could actually finish an averagely sized piece. As the name suggests the base was made from RAGI – the finger millet, one of most popular pulses in Karnataka. It was the first time I had ever tasted it and I’m going to hunt it down till I can find it in Bangalore. My next plate came from Coastal Karnataka and around called THATTE IDLY with SHUNTI KEMPUChuntney. The Idlis were really soft and burnt my tongue because it was so fresh. The ginger red-chuntney was not bad at all and it was the perfect combination with Idli. Just as I managed to finish the Idli, I was thrust with a plate of hot Sabudhana Vada, which I think was from the Maharashtra-Karnataka border. It tasted alright but again I think sometimes food tastes better when its not steaming hot and that’s why a lot of times, food cooked in the morning tastes better at dinner time.
Next, I was given a plate of what looked like BHEL PURI. It tasted pretty much similar to Mango Bhel at any Chaat shop/vehicles but they called it GIRMIT. It was quite spicy laden with a lot of green chillies but it was good change from the steaming hot food. Took some time to finish it and the staff was quite patient right through and helped me with through with a couple of water bottles that become a necessity in order to neutralize the taste and also get the food going down the throat. The next stall was food from Coorg and surrounding areas and my first plate was something that looked like Idli again. Called KOTTE KADUBU, it was apparently made from the inside of the tree bark. I wish had more time to ask how exactly they managed to do that but it tasted a lot like Idli though. This time the accompaniment happened to be another kind of Chutney.
Just as I was relishing the taste of the chutney off my fingers, I was given a plate of NEER DOSA. Literally waster dosa, it’s made without or sometimes with minimal use of oil. Unlike the Masala Dosa, this was quite bland to taste. But the accompaniment was what made the dish my 2nd favourite for the evening. Named KAI HOOVU, it was sweet and went very well with the Dosa. This kept the chutney at bay and for the only time that evening I had a 2nd helping of a dish. Yes, I do think there’s something with me and having a sweet tooth! I took some time to relish it and then made way for the stock dish again from North Karnataka – JOLADA ROTTI. Roti made from corn is one of the main dishes in many regions in Karnataka and it is eaten with curd/yogurt and Egg plant curry.
And finally I had to finish it off with a sweet again from Coorg called the KAAI HAALU. More like payasam made from Rice and dry fruits, made as my desert for the day. Certainly a great experience to eat as much as I could, more than how much I’d usually have for a stock meal. But again how many times are you going to get opportunities like this to eat as much street/fast food? I think I’ve made the best use of it and I hope I’ve done a little justice to all the food that tasted so heavenly.
I might just actually do it again. MIGHT. JUST.