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Friday, January 27, 2012

Village - the soul of India

There are so many long holiday weekends this year and I already have things planned out for most of them. But when it came to this particular one (the Jan 26th one), we had to shelve most of our plans for several reasons. Not one to give up that easily, I had this one holiday well planned out - Get as early as possible to the Lalbagh Flower show and then head out to the Butterfly Park at Bannerghatta road with a nice lunch in between. The Lalbagh Flower show, at least what I got to see of it considering the crowd was like someone had told the Bangalorean population gold was being handed for free, was really nice. But we saw half and got out before we got squashed. Next we headed to Bannerghatta road, but half hour of not making any head way in senseless traffic and we just hightailed it back. I needed to pick up some stuff for junior and we headed to Central Mall in JP Nagar. As luck would have it I did not get what I was looking for. As we were leaving, happened to notice this ad painted on the lift - "The Village, Yeh Ek Restaurant Nahin, Ek Anubhav hai" - Its not a Restaurant its a experience". Since we were there and its was lunch time, we decided to head there. And so all the way to the 6th floor we went.

At the door we were greeted by this guy playing the dhol. You pay at the entrance for the buffet, which was vegetarian and then enter. I was totally floored then - below is one of the first sights you see... an absolute village setting. You have a fake neem ka ped (tree) with a jyothish (astrologer) sitting there waiting to read your palm, you can get mehendi done or even some tattoos. The whole place is divided into sections that are typical to the village. You have the Billu Barber section, complete with the mirror and grooming paraphernalia, Imperial Talkies where a real ancient B&W film was playing. Bal Vidya Mandir with the blackboard et al, the Police Taani, Babloo ki Goshaala (Babloo's cow shed) and more. It was so much to take in at one time and junior was in excitement overdrive. 

The neem ka ped and astrologer

An overall look

The Billo Barber section

Imperial Talkies and Bal Vidya Mandir

Now for the food experience. As you enter, you have these guys dressed as chaiwallahs carrying little steel glasses of jal jeera and shikanji in those metal tea carriers. You can take as many glasses as you like. Next a chap dressed as an inmate of Central Jail (which later features as an important part of your meal) comes around with an old time kettle filled with hot tomato soup. The Shikanji and Jal Jeera were ice cold and great and the soup was so-so. We took in a bit of the movie at Imperial Talkies while we sipped on these.

Being served by the inmate. I just caught him at the wrong time,
he was actually smiling all the while

Next you can head to the Chaniya Maniya counter and gorge on all sorts of chaats. There was a shouting match going on between the Theka (where ice golas were being made) and this counter. Each was yelling out typical hawker style to get more people to their corner. It took me a few minutes to figure out that it was the same guy with the gun throat heading from one counter to another and creating the ruckus. But good fun it was! We missed it at the beginning, but opposite the GoShaala is the paani puri guy and you should have some from there if you like tangy, spicy, aloo filled puris on your little plates.


The food is a mix of Rajasthani, Gujrati, Marwari, Punjabi and some South Indian thrown in for good measure. And so, there is a push cart serving a variety of farsaan. Lot of crispy savories and junior came back quite often. All the mains were served at "Hungry Eyes Chowmein Center". From what I can remember - dum aloo, paneer in a thick cream based gravy, Sarson da Saag, two kinds of dals, a moong dal pulao, rasam vada, white rice, sambar, mango kadhi, dal kichdi, pav bhaji and jalebis made hot of the fire. Tried most of it and liked what I ate. What particularly stood out was the mango kadhi, the moong dal pulao and the sarson da saag.

The Farsaan Counter

Hungry Eyes Chowmein center (Oh Yes! there was chowmein as well)

And so where were the rotis you ask - in Central Jail of course. You head there and get your dosas or rotis made on the spot. The choice was between naan, makki di roti and parathas. I had one of each and all were great. Skipped the dosas though. 

Central Jail, where most people actually stood and had their meal so that they could get hot rotis literally off the tandoor and into their plate

A look at one of my initial servings - dal khichdi, dum aloo,
makki di roti, sarson ka saag and a dal

We sat close to the theka in the Billu Barber section. Do not miss the truck wheels put up with those tacky oneliners you see on trucks. Now while seated here, one of the chaps was roaming around with this bucket filled with fake (or not) Carlsberg beer bottles filled with chaas (buttermilk). I called him over and had 3 three glasses of that cold yumciousness. Got a scratchy throat today though!


Now can you miss having an ice gola after all this - I could but Sudhakar was not about to. He decided on a strawberry kiwi one and had a ball finishing it off. I headed to the Mishtan Bhandar (sweet stall) and had one of each - kala jamun, tiranga burfee and something called Kela Burda. This looked very much like a gulab jamun, only thing the stuffing was predominantly banana... warm and yum. 

In the making and on the plate

Strawberry Kiwi ice gola

Tiranga Halwa, Kala Jamun and Kela Burda

By now we were pretty stuffed and simply walking around - I got my palm read for Rs 51 and thoroughly enjoyed an impromptu Bhangda show by this big group of guys who came in and made the punctured autorickshaw cum seating table their adda. And through it all came this guy on cycle selling "garama garam chai".

Garam chai from the cycle wallah

This huge truck where a large family can be seated

The impromptu bhangda session

What the Village has to offer

I agree that this was an experience more than a restaurant. At the end of it I had spent more time taking it all in and taking photos than I actually ate. The food is nice, the novelty factor is certainly there. The "Laadies" and "Jhaantz" loos are equally clean, though the Laadies could do with some mopping. For the Rs 750 this cost us, chomping on a paan and ringing a bell on the way out to show our appreciation, I would say it was completely worth the fun!

Address: Bangalore Central Mall,  45th cross, JP Nagar
Phone:9663294243
Cuisine: North Indian, buffet, bit of South Indian too 
Wallet factor: Rs 750 for two
Parking: Mall parking

3 comments:

Ri(t)ch Styles said...

We have this in Vashi too and it definitely is an experience!! :)

xoxoxo
Ritcha
http://ritchastyle.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Visited this place today. Good food, interesting atmosphere including dandia and Bhangra dance by clients.

Good value for money.

Anonymous said...

Food was salty and to be toned down on salt.
Ambience is good.

 

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