I love to discover a city through its food. Bangalore has been home to me for more than 13 years, and uncovering the culinary treasures of this city has been a major form of entertainment. I have snuck out of office with colleagues at the stroke of noon to reach a nondescript door in Malleshwaram that opens up for an hour to dish out mutton biryani on a steel plate. You get served, stand on the pavement with traffic thundering past and dig in.
As a restaurant blogger I have numerous brilliant food memories that I love to flip through in a mental slide show. The multi-course edible flowers meal, a deconstructed Italian parmigiana served as a cold orb of goodness, pork belly in ways that will only have you singing praise to porcine gods and more. While I can give you a laundry list of things to try in this city, I personally feel there are some experiences that are a must.
Go Brewery Hopping
Bangalore loves its beer. Gone are the days of chugging pints and the least sober at the table keeping track of the number of bottles packed away. Today's beer-loving crowd can treat themselves to Irish, English, American or German craft beers. Ales, stouts, pilsners, lagers, IPAs and more are there for the taking. What I particularly love about the beer culture in the city is the season-based experimentation - I have nursed a pumpkin beer and a lemongrass beer at different times. The range of beer cocktails is the complete shebang, from theatrics to potent mixes. And when you drink out of mugs, steins, towers, litre glasses and some other innovative drink holders, you have an unbeatable experience. When in Bangalore next, go on a brewery-hopping spree. Jimi Hendrix may come down from his framed perch on the wall and croon by the end of it, but it will be worth it. Be sure to cab it home.
Street food at V V Puram
Hit The Streets
Sure, every city has its share of brilliant street food and so does Bangalore. The most talked about perhaps is Food Street aka VV Puram Thindi Beedi - an entirely vegetarian affair. You may begin your food tour with gobi Manchurian rolls. Continue what can only be called a food orgy with floating pani puri, rasgulla chaat (which is savoury by the way), dosas and paniyarams like you have never heard of before, gulkand with ice cream and American corn done 25 ways.
Streetfood at Shivajinagar
Bangalore's street food takes a diametrically opposite turn at places like Shivajinagar, Johnson Market and Tilaknagar, a meat-lover's paradise. Follow your senses to hand-pounded kheema samosas, lusciously spiced kebabs, succulent beef fries with idiappams, spicy grilled teetar and, of course, beef and mutton biryanis. Endless cups of sweet Harira and Suleimani chai seal the deal.
Iftaar at Shivajinagar
If you want to experience some of the best that Bangalore has to offer, time your visit according to the major festivals in the city. Come Onam and you have some brilliant Onasadyas (Onam feasts), complete with the ada pradaman, being organised as part of the festivities across the city.
Of course, the iftaar offerings on MM Road, Tilaknagar and Shivajinagar can bring the best of us to our knees in appreciation. Khova naans, pattar ka ghosht, bheja samosas... have I got you drooling already?
Ganesh Chaturthi is a time that sees massive celebrations in every nook and corner. It is a time that the Bangalore Ganesh Utsav celebrations bring to one spot kitchens that showcase the cuisine of six regions from across the state. From gokak karandatu and jackfruit mulaka to davangere benne dosa, kotte kadabu, maddur vada and more, the variety of food available is worth all the elbowing you have to do to make your way to the counters.
During Durga Puja, the city is dotted with pandals that offer you the best of Bengali festive cuisine - luchis, aloo dum, chingri jal, chholar dal, mishit doi, rosogollas, chanar payesh and I can go on...
Bangalore is also home to two other festivals that promote the welfare of farmers - the Kadlekai Parishe (groundnut festival) in December and the Avarekai Mela (the broad bean festival) in January. While the groundnut festival is more of a visual treat, the Avarekai Mela outdoes itself every year with the range of dishes that are prepared. Sweet, savoury, experimental - you dream of it and it is a possibility here.
SGR Military Hotel
Imagine this - steaming hot mutton pulav and spicy meat fries as first light breaks! Well that's a military hotel for you. These small eateries have histories that go back a century or so. There are several stories on their origin, the most popular being that they came about to feed hungry soldiers. Today, these little joints serve a small menu of closely guarded recipes, primarily meat-based preparations; service begins as early as 6am. Don't expect a smile when you are being served and be ready for an eat-and-scoot kind of meal. But what you will take away from here is the memory of an unbelievably satisfying repast for a sum that will not dent your wallet in the least.