The City has several tags like ‘Garden City’ and ‘IT Capital’. But of late, many have started to call it ‘the home of foodies’. While Mumbai is known for its street food, Bengaluru is slowly becoming popular for its culturally rich food. Exploring the different types of food in the City is ‘The Oota Walks’, which was started by two food-lovers — Simi Mathew and Shibaji Ghosh.
When Simi moved to Bengaluru 10 years ago, she wanted to explore the City. She was introduced to famous tourist spots like Lalbagh and Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace but craved for something unique. The psychologist and food-lover wanted to discover the City through its food. “Bengaluru might not be the city of monuments. But it is definitely a city of stories. I love food and it plays an important role in my life. So I wanted to explore the heritage of Bengaluru through food,” says Simi.
She adds that the City can be interpreted in different ways when you are behind the wheel and when you are on foot. Terming it as a “young but an eloquent City”, she says she wanted to learn more about the history of the City as well as the folk stories associated with it while treating herself to some great food.
Her love for food and folk stories helped her meet another food enthusiast Shibaji Ghosh, an advertising professional. The energetic duo started a group with a few other like-minded individuals called the ‘Oota Company’. They then began the walk for food that aimed at exploring the culinary delights of each neighbourhood.
“Our first walk was to Basavanagudi which has quite a number of legendary eateries such as SLV, Vidyarthi Bhavan and Brahmin’s Cafe. We were a group of 23 foodies and got excited with each story while enjoying the delectable South Indian dishes during this walk. It was a holistic integration of food and stories,” she says.
Their passion for food and walking only grew and soon, the group was renamed as ‘The Oota Walks’.
“We have come across a lot of great stories thanks to our walks. One of my favourite walks was the one to the Military Hotel, which is 115 years old. The thrilling part about the place is that they serve hot ‘biryani’ at 6.40 am!” she says excitedly.
A lot of planning goes behind each walk. “I am an active resident of the City and well-informed about the places that are worth visiting. We do a thorough research before each walk and take at least six months to organise one walk,” she says. There is a team of consultants and historians working with ‘The Oota Walks’, who research and sketch a blueprint before the walk to avoid confusion.
“We also map the trail and try out the food before the actual walk,” she adds. The participants are given an ‘oota’ bag that contains a brochure explaining the day’s walk, a map of old Bengaluru and a water bottle along with disposable cutlery.
After the initiation of the plan, the walk begins in a sequential manner with a cup of coffee and progresses to more filling dishes.
There is also a 15-minute break after every 500 metres during the walk, which spans two to three kilometres. The group that has organised eight walks till date announces their schedule and destination on their Facebook page, which is then spread by word of mouth. Each walk of theirs explores a slice of the City and help Bengalureans rediscover the beauty of it while treating their tummies at the same time.
For details, visit their Facebook page — theootawalks.