I thought things could only get better after my lonely, congealed food buffet dinner at the Spa off Bengaluru yesterday. I was wrong. Breakfast was no great shakes. And then there was was lunch. A few bites down and colleague of mine looked up and said “I can’t have this for dinner today”.
And so I lead a renegade band of three people from my group, and one more who joined us, out of the Spa for dinner. I could feel the revolutionary spirit of Subhash Chandra Bose and his INA running through my veins. I headed in search of an Andhra restaurant. My lunch mate MumbaiCentral said that this was a better bet than Kannada food at Bengalore. I trusted her judgment. Even asked her what to order.
We were pointed to a restaurant called Nandidi which was apparently a 30 min drive from the resort. And then there was Bhagini, apparently not as good, but 15 minutes away. 40 minutes into the drive, our cab crossed Bhagini! By that time we had got used to Bengalaru time which seems to belong to a different time zone. So we decided to get off there and give the elusive Nandini a miss.
It was chilly when we got off. Pleasant change from muggy Mumbai. We had been told that Bhagini was a dhaba which had apparently had a makeover. We walked in. The place was segregated into different ‘garden’ sections. Covered spots, open in the side. Psychedelic lights flashing in between the sections for some reason. We were ushered into the ‘family’ section where there were other mixed gender groups versus the men only groups in the other sheds. The seating was basic, the walls pink… looked straight out of one of the places which the Highway On My Plate guys, Mayur and Rocky, would visit.
We waded through the Chinese menu and finally reached the Andhra section. Following MumbaiCentral’s recco, I ordered a nati chilli chicken fry (country chicken), which had a walloping taste of hot chillies. A pleasant change after the faceless spa food. Then crab fry which was served in a painted crab shell. Odd bits of crab meat in another incendiary Andhra spice base. This was good food and some of us begun to grin widely. Andhra chicken kebabs … succulent, juicy deep fried chicken which could out Kentucky KFC…the night was getting better by the moment. With Old Monk at Rs 26 for 60 mil, it would, I guess. ‘Goontoor’ chicken fry which came in a delectable bed of hot green chillies, tropical curry leaves and soothing garlic pods…tender meat enrobed in a fiery velvet spice mix. Nati (country) chicken curry which was similar to the gassis of Mangalorean restaurants such as Apoorva and Mahesh of Mumbai. We had over ordered by then. There were three non vegetarians in our group. But we had to order an Andhra mutton biriyani. It came well recommended. Turned out to be the best Calcutta biriyani that I have had out of Calcutta. Firm rice, no gravy, delicately flavoured and tender mutton. I could see my fellow Calcuttan purr in delight.
The manager was a bit terse with the poor vegetarians and turned them to the Chinese menu saying there was no vegetarian Andhra food. Poor things were struggling with mushroom Manchurian and then tough rotis and horrid cauliflower sabzi. That’s when I took over and ordered neer dosa and vegg gassi for them. The veg gassi turned out to be more like a veg a korma at Mumbai. Thick versus the thin gassis of Mumbai. But who cared, the vegetarians finally got some food which they enjoyed. I did my good deed for the day.
All of this with Old Monks, a few whiskeys and a beer came to a princely Rs 1580 or 35 USD for five of us.
I will try to sum up the post the way Rocky and Mayur of Highway on My Plate, the only food show on Indian telly with a soul, would:
Taste: 7/10, compared to the spa, 110/ 10
Value for Money: 10/10
Food court: You can take The Knife to a hotel buffet, but you can’t make him buckle
Yes, the trip has finally come alive.
|In search of edible food|
|Crab fry…100 Rs|
|nati chilli chicken|
|Andhra chicken kebab|
|Veg korma pretendingto be gassi with neer dosa|
|Calcutta, sorry, Andhra Biriyani|
|Escape to victory|
|We were missing at the offical dinner|
|Nati chicken curry|