Sometimes, it’s the tiniest places that serve the tastiest snacks. That’s the case with an eatery located opposite Berley Street in Shantinagar, which serves bhajjis and bondas. Chances are that you would have missed this place, which is surrounded by bustling streets and heavy traffic. But a closer look and you will find a couple, Valli and Mani, busy preparing snacks that are served directly from the khadi.
There’s a limited selection at this place with only four items on the menu. It includes vada, aloo bonda, chilli bhajji and raw banana bhajji. “My husband and I spend the mornings preparing the dishes. The recipes are my own,” explains Valli, who doesn’t take her eyes off the snacks while they’re being prepared.
The couple, who started the place in 1986, say that over the years they have had to take off items from the menu for want of labour. “When we started, we used to serve kesari bath and a couple of other dishes. But in the last 10 years, we’ve had to cut down. Even preparing this much is proving to be difficult,” she shares.
With a number of offices, colleges, and paying guest accommodation in the area, it’s mostly the regulars who queue up in the evenings. Others prefer parcelling the nominally priced items. Four bhajjis cost Rs 10. “For items like bhajjis and bondas, the taste comes from the oil. But we try not to use excessive amounts. However, most of those who come here like them as they are and don’t ask for any modifications. Even when it comes to the level of spice, we add only a moderate amount,” she says, adding that by 8 pm, the items are completely sold out.
Those who have visited the place are all praises for the snacks. “I found the place quite by chance and now, whenever I pass by, I have a quick bite. Otherwise I just get it parcelled and take it to office, where we enjoy an evening snack,” says Manju, who works around the area.
Sushil, another frequent customer, says that he relishes the flavour. “It’s crisp and fresh and the spices have a wonderful flavour. It’s so tempting to keep munching on them,” he says, adding, “I doubt that many would have spotted this place. But it’s a real find.”
“While I face the problem of dishes either being too salty or spicy, it’s just the right
mix here. The taste of the mint and onion comes out well in the vada. It’s crunchy and a good side dish along with dinner,” says Shashi, another customer, adding, “whenever possible, I come here after work and pack something to take home.”
The place is open between 4 pm and 8 pm from Monday to Saturday.