budget eating serves beef

Bangalore Street Food - Shivajinagar

Friday, May 24, 2013Me! In words

Shivajinagar was next on our list of street food places to visit now that we were done with VVPuram and Johnson Market. I would have liked to go in an even larger group, but then the three of us made it nice and compact. We met up at the Basilica and took the road running down the left of the main gate... at the end, you arrive at a crossroad of sorts and through the bustle and noise of the traffic, your nostrils will be assailed by such a variety of smells, of foods being cooked, and if you manage to somehow tune out the blaring horns, you will hear the hiss, sizzle and pops of kadais, tandoors and tavas going full steam on multiple burners.. all out in the open, all with a bit of the elements mixed, all beckoning at the top of their delicious voices. 

For me it was like a little kid being let loose in a candy store. I literally wanted everything on my little square of newspaper (which is the most you will get here by way of a plate). We started at Royal restaurant with some samosas - available in meat and in veggies. Of course we went for the meat. They were right out of the boiling kadai you see down in the first picture. Once you get past the initial heat of holding the samosa, every bite gives you a clearer glimpse of heaven. As we munched on the samosas we found a nook to stand in front of, actually a marination cupboard of sorts with a range of kebabs on display. There is lots to take in and immediately we zeroed in on the famous Savera for some Suleimani chai... but that was not before our eyes kept going back to "Iqbal  Dressed chicken Center" across the road. Yup! our eyes and tummies were all over the place. You need to get there to understand it. 

Samosas frying away in a kadai outside Royal Restaurant

An amazing riot of colors - once fried (top left, anti-clockwise - egg parathas, chicken kebabs, kalmi kebab, not sure of kebabs and kebab rolls. The little green and brown mounds are the fillings for the samosas

Right next to the Kadai the Karamel is lined up. A slightly different version of the caramel custard with thicker setting than your average dessert. 

Next, we walked over to Savera which does the chai-samosa-nankhatai routine. The suleimani chai here is something that can be guzzled by the liter. The squeeze of lime and mix of sugar is so balanced that you really get your fix of tea! Almost instantly you will ask for the next glass. The tea is served in a double glass to make it easy to hold considering how hot it is.

From here, it was time to roll up our sleeves and even the bottom of our pants and dive straight into that singular road of smoke and carts that seemed to be dishing up goodness from a land unknown. We decided to get to Iqbal's on our way out and slowly started to walk into the lane of pushcarts. Believe it or not, it was like stepping into another world - Picture a fairly narrow lane. On one side you have a row of butchers busy at their work and tending to their regular customers. On the other side you have a row of large carts with tandoors and grills going full steam, with quails marinated whole and on display, with mounds of meats - beef, chicken and mutton marinated in various ways, waiting to be placed on to whatever medium constitutes their final run before they land on our paper.

And then, I still don't believe it is possible - but each of these carts have a small set of tables and chairs for their very own makeshift restaurants - take a seat if you actually dare (a lot of people do). Now for effect add on the cacophony of birds, the honking of bikes on a two way street, the bustle of people going about life and you pretty much know what we were standing in the midst of.

The famous Savera from across the road

Their Suleimani chai... you are guaranteed not to leave the place without having the second one. 

The sights and sounds of another world - the butcher shops to the right, the food stalls and their makeshift seating arrangements to the left. Smoke from all sides, bikes, people and more!

Just one of the stalls doling out some great food

The Sheekh kebabs waiting to go

Our mutton kebab getting ready for us

Quails marinated and waiting to be chosen. We chose one here as well

This is how the quail is served

We stopped at one stall here and got all that we wanted - they all pretty much serve the same thing and I guess you stay loyal to one to get the best of everything. While our quail was cooking, we got ourselves the mutton and the chicken kebabs. The mutton, searing hot, continued to sizzle on our little paper plates. The marination had a coriander-yogurt base, made the mutton tender and even the fat that it came with was sensational to eat. The mutton disappeared fast and close on its heels was the chicken - this was the customary red masala - again am guessing a kashmiri red chilli-coriander-yogurt base which fortunately does not leave your fingers mehndi-like stained. Then came on the quail - we flipped it over to get a better photo of it as you see below. While the masala was nice, quail being quail is such a bony bird it gets difficult to stand, balance a couple of things and eat. Unless you make a bakra out of someone (in this case Sudhakar) and get him to pick the bird and make pieces for you.

The flip side of the quail

Once we were done with round 1 or was it round 2, we walked the stretch of the lane to see if there was anything different. Each stall beckoned us, but their wares seemed pretty much the same. At one of the places on the left, a small back-end kitchen of sorts was working, all guns blazing - they had an amazing mud tandoor, built on the floor to look like a little sand castle with a range of skewers passing right through it or right over it. I would loved to photograph the process but the guy manning the tandoor wouldn't have any of it. If you pass by there, do try and take a peek. 

And so we ambled our way back to Iqbal Dressed chicken center - placed at the beginning of the lane, he is more of a show stopper than most others. We caught sight of idiyappams - so what better way to go than idiyyapams and beef - and what a choice Iqbal's gives you - kebab, fry, masala fry, sheekh... we had it with the beef kebab - two mounds of idiyyappam with two skewers of kebabs. You may think that the kebab would be too dry an accompaniment - far from it. The kebabs are so juicy, you could actually use the idiyappam as a mop - best to place a piece of both in your mouth. While we devouring our kebab, Sudhakar spotted a bit of cold heaven on the opposite side of the road, before Royal - a falooda milk drink being served. After downing a glass, we were ready for grand finale - it was toss up between Hamza and Grand Hamza - when you are here you can throw Hilal into the fray as well. 

The range of kebabs going at Iqbal's

A more quieter corner of Iqbal with a chicken fry going

Idiyappam and beef kebab

The much needed cold falooda milk

We finally settled on Grand Hamza - a regular haunt for Sudhakar and former colleague, so while he was reliving the good times, we were there for the first time show. Do not go in expecting "fine dine" of any sort. It looks like a run-down Sagar-kind of place. We had to ask the staff to change the table cloth, the AC was not working and the fans pointed everywhere except us. But we were there for the food and so with Sudhakar at the ordering helm - we got ourselves a portion of mutton biryani, bheja fry and faham (tandoori chicken), both half portions.

The biryani comes with a brinjal salan and no raita. The biryani is typical of the area - light on the masala, filled with oil (in a nice way), with tender pieces. Think, younger brother version of Richies' biryani. The bheja fry Sudhakar declared as brilliant. I had a piece and agreed with him... that's as far as I go with innards and grey matter carriers. The faham was tender, not overcooked as chicken done this way tends to be. You order a biryani, you get to wrap up the meal with a sweet. In this case, a nice phirni.

You could think we were done after all this, but we literally rolled down the stairs, across the road to Savera and had (ok shared) a Suleimani Chai.

Bheja Fry at Grand Hamza

Mutton Biryani

Half portion of Faham

The phirni

If you want to continue eating on the streets, there are spots that serve beef biryani out of huge handis. I was curious, but at the end of it, my legs and tummy begged for mercy.  I actually missed out on fish... didn't seem to find any which was surprising since Russel market is hiccup away. Hygiene in general is questionable so if you are squeamish about it, you best stay away. Vegetarians too are not going to have much save the sweet offerings at Savera and the veggie samosas. But the experience is something in itself. All of this came to roughly Rs 300 a head. If you are a sweets person, you may want to check out Luna Sweets as you continue on the main road up from Iqbal. Carrying your own water would be a smart thing to do. I now have only one more street food set up to complete this discovery plan... Avenue Road, hopefully I will be coming sometime soon. 

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