Banashankari Bangalore restaurant reviews
I have developed quite a fascination for Military Hotels this past year. I spoke of two of them in an earlier post and now have two more here to wax eloquent about. The first is a personal favourite simply because it is so close to home and the food is divine. No week goes by without a quick stop for an indulgent lunch. Ranganna Miltry Hotel has been around for a long while now and if you follow my Facebook and Instagram, you will know that my love for Ranganna Miltry knows no bounds.
From the few conversations I have had with Muniranganna, the owner and a one time wrestler, I came to know that he inherited this eatery from his parents. It was a small, dilapidated looking space that had its loyal customers spanning a couple of generations in Jayanagar. Today, he runs it along with his sons. The eatery has moved to a larger, airier space, just one road away, complete with family seating space, and is packed to the gills any given day.
Spices are picked up from the nearby KR Market and Muniranganna religiously handpicks up every piece of meat that goes into his preparations. How do I know this? Well, we go to the same butcher and have seen him in action. In fact, if you ask for advice on the cut of meat to select, he will happily oblige you. Here is a look at just some of the food that we constantly head back for at Ranganna Miltry Hotel.
You get served on leaves or plates, depending on what you order - you take your pick.
Thale Mamsa - Head Meat gravy - this one is a spicy dish that packs in all the flavor that oozes out during the slow cooking process. The spice is from the whole garam masalas that you will find abundantly and pepper. It is tempered with a generous amount of fresh coriander leaves.
Yes, its a poorly shot photo, but excitement got the better of me. Sudhakar's standard order when he is here is a Ragi Mudde with a meat curry. The Ragi balls are smooth and make for a sumptuous meal each and every time. Top it off with a share of mutton palav and siesta-here-we-come.
This Fish Curry comes with a generously oily base that packs in the heat of red chillies and of course Munriganna's secret mix of spices. He told us once that only a select few in the kitchen know the recipes of these dishes, among of course his immediate family.
My personal favourite and almost every time order is the Kheema Balls - what you see here is the Kheema Ball Dry - there is also a gravy version which kicks up the spice level a few notches higher, but is equally excellent. The meat is hand pounded along with all the spices and condiments it needs. It is then shaped into these generous balls and cooked in an amazing base of tomatoes, whole spices, peas and more.
Though my favorite Mutton Palav among the Miltry Hotels I have visited so far continues to be Naidu Miltry Hotel in KR Market, this one is a close second (yes, I still like this one over Shivaji Miltry Hotel). The meat in this one is always flawless, the spice comes from a generous onion-chilli mix and of course large handfuls of coriander and mint. Try the palav without the gravy first as, the gravy just adds to the spice factor.
The Chicken Fry is a typically home styled version of onions-ginger-garlic-tomato with a few spices. Again, a dish that shows how a few simple things can result in major transformation of a core ingredient.
A meal I once had of Rice with Kheema Gojju. These types of plated meals are by far the most common thing you will see going at lunch time. The kheema has been hand chopped rather coarsely, allowing it to take on all the masalas that have been added in. Team that up with the rice and that spicy gravy in the middle and you have a satisfying meal.
Rasam is how most meals end here and you do not want to miss this little steel cups of heaven. The staff is generous with their rasam and will get you additional cups if you request for it. You also get a choice of aerated drinks. Service is quick and the food hits the table soon. A meal for two will not cross the Rs 400 mark. The place also has a very clean men's and women's washroom. There is limited parking outside the restaurant, the parallel roads offer you a better bet.
Okay so for those of you who have heard of miltry hotels, there is no way you have not heard of Shivaji Miltry Hotel. By far the most popularly known joint, this place has been around for decades (as have most other miltry hotels). Finding it is not that difficult if you keep the Banashankari Bus Stand as your landmark. Just ask around and you will find yourself standing under the lemon garlanded entrance of the eatery soon enough.
The thing with Shivaji Miltry Hotel is your timing. People come here for the Donne (a dried leaf bowl) Biryani/Mutton Palav and believe me it gets over rather soon. The place serves just about 2-3 dry meat dishes a day besides scores of donne biryanis. There is a certain strategy you need to apply to getting your fill at Shivaji.
1. Arrive at the right time - Biryani in the mornings is usually done by 10.00AM, so arrive early and you get it. You can try catching the next round which starts getting served around 12.45PM to 1.00 and if you are lucky till 1.30PM. There is another round that gets done around 2.00PM usually based on demand for the day.
2. Getting a seat - Not that Shivaji is a small eatery, but it is packed... all the time. You have to master the art of scanning the space to see which table is nearing done. Stand next to the person eating and quite shamelessly stare them down till they finish eating and get up. Please don't wait for the table to be cleared, you will lose the seat. Sit down and the table is cleared in a jiffy and your order will be brusquely taken.
Of course, for those of you who cannot fathom doing this, the place also has a brisk takeaway service going simultaneously.
The plates of leaves stitched together that are placed in front of you
Buckets of Pachadi are carried around and it is unceremoniously dumped onto your plate, along with a plastic cup of the meat gravy. While you sit mesmerized with this whole quick mechanical process, the biryani is being set into donnes and your starter dishes are plonked in front of you.
The Chicken Fry - which comes with a generous dose of a spicy gravy
The Mutton Fry, which uses a red chilli masala as a base. Both dishes are oil-heavy as they are meant to be. They go perfectly well with a Coke, till you get your Donne with Biryani.
It is honestly quite a sight to watch the servers walk past tables with trays piled high with Donnes. Before you can blink, entire rows of patrons are already digging into their palavs. Each donne can served two people quite easily. You have to have a seriously large appetite to make good of one on your own. The palav is light, quite non-greasy with the meat being soft. Flavors of chillis and whole spices come through nicely as does that of the meat.
Little plastic cups of pepper rasam that are placed on your plate as you end your meal. These are poured from classic metal tea kettles of yore. You can ask for another helping, if you manage to catch the eye of your server.
Shivaji Miltry Hotel is an experience in itself. From the crowded tables to getting a seat to actually eating and then walking out with a burp of satisfaction. If you are looking for a quiet laid back miltry meal experience, I would put my money on Ranganna. But if you are looking to be in the eye of the storm, which BTW is a great experience too, then Shivaji it is. Service is quick, but bordering on rude. A meal for two will not go beyond Rs 350 to Rs 400. There are clean loos and hand wash areas here. Bike parking is about as much as you will get, if you are lucky.
Of course, there are so many more that I would like to visit. In my next post on Miltry Hotels, I will tell you about Shrinidhi Miltry Hotel in Basavangudi and Kaveri Miltry Hotel near Nandi Hills, which actually serves pork as well.