It is the holy month of Ramzan and many of us have one thing on our minds -- food. As it happens, there are other Ramzan food destinations in India besides Old Delhi, Lucknow and Hyderabad.
Take Bengaluru, where you can sample melt-in-the-mouth kebabs, fragrant biryani, chilled creamy phirni and much much more by way of iftar fare.
Yes, the city can match the formidable reputations of other food-lovers' paradises, in part because it has a few trump cards in its kitty, such as the easy availability of camel meat, Brazilian beef and veal during this season.
A few stalwart establishments aside, it’s hard to pick favourites, especially when over the last couple of years authorities have been clamping down on the temporary pavement stalls in different parts of the city that serve iftar khaana.
However, you can head to Mosque Road in Fraser Town, Johnson Market, Shivaji Nagar, Tilak Nagar and MM Road, and you will not be disappointed with the variety of lip-smacking fare available. Crisp mutton samosas with flaky pastry, piping hot spicy rolls, a bewildering array of naans, and shawarmas oozing with mayonnaise, all command your attention. Then there are the desserts – Double ka Meetha, rose-flavoured falooda, and Shahi Tukra. To wash it all down, there is always first rate Suleimani chai or Kokum soda at hand.
Here are five stand-out offerings unique to Bengaluru:
BHEJA FRY PUFFS
This dish might not have the most appetising name, but the Bheja Fry (goat brains) Puffs at Albert Bakery are not to miss. Among the oldest of Bengaluru's bakeries, and situated in the heart of Fraser Town, Albert Bakery adheres to a philosophy that has won it the loyalty of many over the years, and can be summed up in a word: simplicity. There are no fripperies here with the food. A mutton samosa is just that -- flaky pastry stuffed to the gills with minced meat (yum!).
Every Ramzan, the bakery prepares Bheja Fry Puffs and Khova Naan which sees patrons lining up in long queues from 3 pm to 9 pm. On non-festival days, their Chicken Swiss rolls, and freshly baked buns and muffins are always in demand.
One of the best mutton biryani (Muslim style) in years at rahham's family in Bangalore. Melting mutton. pic.twitter.com/fHkAUpwK28
— Ranjeet Walunj (@iMayavi) April 10, 2015
Popular all year around, mutton biryani appears to take on a richer more satisfying form during Ramzan. One place where the biryani really stands out is an eatery called Rahhams or Richies, which is also popular for its selection of tandoori and gravy preparations. It has now opened five other branches, but for an authentic experience, head to the original eatery in Fraser Town.
Some other items on the menu such as Chicken Kolhapuri and Dilruba might sound a bit strange, and the service admittedly is terrible, but mouthfuls of their mutton biryani make it all worth it. If the biryani leaves you hankering for more, there are the kulmi and kali-mirch kebabs.
As it happens, during Ramzan, the stalls at Russell Market in Shivaji Nagar have an edge over Mumbai and Delhi eateries. Walk into the bustling market and amidst the temporary eateries offering paya (check out Abdul Lateef Paya Shop and New Hilal Restaurant), biryani, and haleem, you will come across many stalls offering camel meat chops and kebabs – an iftar delicacy not available elsewhere. Possibly the only area in the city buzzing with life past 2 am, Shivaji Nagar is a frequent haunt of nocturnal foodies. Be it camel soup or beef kebabs, the food goes well with steaming glasses of Suleimani chai (spiced with cardamom, lemon and ginger, and prepared without any milk) at the Savera Tea Centre.
Though available outside most mosques, the go-to place for Hareera or, hot milk boiled with dry fruits (almonds, cashews, raisins) and cardamom, is M.K Lassi and Sweet Stall in Shivaji Nagar. (The simplest way to get here is to hit Lal Masjid from Jumma Masjid Road). Established somewhere in the 1980s, this stall has been winning over patrons for its masale ka doodh and naans. Interestingly it also features something known as Andey Ki Mithai that's available at Rs 280 per kg.
Makkah Cafe in Johnson Market is another place where one can enjoy a glass of Hareera for Rs 10, along with crispy samosas or, coconut and fruit naans.
Beef in Bengaluru is available commonly enough. The beef 'Pathar ka Gosht' from New Taj restaurant located next to Richie's is quite famous as is the beef shawarma at Fanoos in Fraser Town. However, Johnson Market is the ideal place to head to if you’re looking specifically for veal. Besides the tiny carts that serve piping hot veal rolls, one can go to Khazana or an eatery called Siddique Kabab Centre for veal kebabs and veal phal (strips of meat rubbed with spices, and fried). If you still have room, wash it down with one of the 25 varieties of soda available at Madeena Stores that is right in front of Fanoos.
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