With some spice and nostalgia

Lingering taste

With some spice  and nostalgia

Just the thought of ‘masala puri’ makes one’s mouth water. The snack, which is originally from Uttar Pradesh, is now famous even in countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan. A place in the City where this snack is much sought-after is Karnataka Bhel House.

Situated in Chamarajpet, if one takes a walk down the small roads of the bustling bazar street, one can smell the delicious aroma of the spicy and tangy ‘chaats’ of this place. The taste of the ‘masala puri’ here is unmatched. Served piping hot with fresh and crispy ‘puri’, it is a must-have here. While ‘masala puri’ is served steaming hot, the ‘pani puri’ is served with chilled ‘pani’ and hot peas. The other popular dishes here are — ‘sev puri’, ‘bhel puri’ and ‘dahi aloo puri’.

Started by Prabhulinga Dev in 1975, this was the first ‘chaat’ stall in Southern Bengaluru. Having a small board with almost no visibility, it was then known as ‘Chamarajpet Pani Puri Angadi’. Prabhulinga’s sons Virupaksha and Ravishankar now own the place. “The whole concept and name was my father’s idea.

The North Indian ‘chaats’ usually have ‘channa’. But my father wanted to experiment with them by adding boiled peas instead and they were a hit,” says Ravishankar, who has a degree in science. The place was started when he was barely two years old and he says, “My brother (an automobile engineer) and I have grown with this place. This has now become a family business and we did not want to let go of it.”

Apart from the best ‘chaats’, the place was also noted for its softy ice-cream that was very popular among kids. “We shifted to a new place recently. But we had stopped making softies even before this due to space constraints,” he informs. The only stall dedicated to ‘chaats’ in southern Bengaluru, it has five branches — all well-planned with drinking water and seating facilities.

Years have passed but the quality and taste of the ‘chaats’ remain unchanged and it is loved by all gastronomers. Forty years back, a plate of ‘masala puri’ used to cost 40 paisa and the other ‘chaats’ were worth 60 paisa! Now one can grab a plate for Rs 30. “It does not feel like so many years have passed. It is only when I look back that I realise that this place has remained popular for a long time now,” he says.

With five branches, the stall has spread its wings across the City. Each place has the same taste as there is a centralised kitchen where fresh ingredients are mixed to make the gravy. These are then transferred to all the branches. They also have automatic ‘puri’ making machines that make tiny crispy ‘puris’ in no time. Noted for its hygiene, the place has faithful customers.

“Some customers have been coming from the day we first opened. They all say, ‘we used to eat three plates of ‘masala puri’ and two plates of ‘bhel’ for Rs 2.50’!” he says. “We want to retain the taste and maintain the same standard,” he wraps up.

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