Bengaluru’s cantonment was a movie buffs’ haven, with its range extending from the Jawahar Bal Bhavan at one end to Lido at the other, with a dense cluster of at least half a dozen halls in between.
Today, Basavanagudi is no different. Only, it’s not movies, but masala dosas.
Boasting riches in iconic restaurants along its bustling streets, the hallowed locality never disappoints the dosa fan.
The crisp roast at Vidyarthi Bhavan, the spicy red coating inside the Udupi Krishna Bhavan’s masala dosa, the pliable potato curry-filled special or the fluffy, perforated khali dosa at Mahalakshmi Tiffin Room, are all a few hundred paces from each other.
Regulars not only know what’s a must at each joint, like a double butter variant or sagu masala, but are well versed with their office hours and weekly holidays too.
So, if it’s Monday, it must be Janata, if it’s Tuesday, it must be Udupi Krishna Bhavan, Mahalakshmi Tiffin Room on Wednesday, New Modern Hotel on Thursday and Vidyarthi Bhavan on Friday.
So, much to the die-hard dosa fans’ delight, no two restaurants are closed on the same day. And it’s a fully-loaded weekend for them with all of them open on Saturdays and Sundays as Mahalakshmi Tiffin Room too switched its weekly holiday from Saturday to Wednesday recently.
For some, nothing but their favourite restaurant will do and they are willing to wait any length of time to lay their hands on that patented sagu masala or benne masala. So, as the wait for their turn gets longer, the breakfast plan turns to brunch and eventually to lunch, but every morsel has been worth the wait.
And when it comes to dosas in the locality, everything seems to be fair. The traffic rule says alternate day parking. But the rule doesn’t seem to apply when the road houses a dosa joint. Always park on the side on which the restaurant is located, is the unwritten rule.
And with Covid curbs eased, it doesn’t matter if a table is taken but one seat is left. The convention is not to spare any vacant seat. “Have seat, will eat” is the maxim.
But, no! Not so soon. He’s just left the seat to wash the dosa’s grease off his hands. He’s not done yet, not until he rounds it off with the steaming, strong coffee. Finally, he leaves, wiping his palm with the neatly trimmed piece of absorbent newspaper, which takes the grease off the hands, but not the scent, which lingers on till the end of a memorable day.
(This column looks at some food fetishes and secrets from a city of gastronomes and beyond.)