Friday, June 03, 2011

Delhi meets Bengaluru- The birthplace of Rava Idli: MTR

After exploring Old Delhi Reeta Skeeter landed up in Bengaluru to explore the old world charm of Mavalli Tiffin Rooms (MTR). MTR is to Bangalore what Indian Coffee House is to Delhi in a way. Indian Coffee House boasts of being home to a place where political deliberations happened at one point in time, a place where the news of Emergency is said to have broken first. Mavalli Tiffin Rooms on the other hand survived the thrust of Emergency and lives on till date to tell the story. Restaurants were asked to charge food at govt approved rates. And this is what their website says, "Some restaurants paid up, others started compromising on the quality. MTR did neither. MTR kept the quality of the food as high as ever and put up a board stating the losses for the day outside the restaurant. MTR continued in this way for 16 days. On the 16th day it closed down. During this time, MTR opened a small departmental store next to the hotel and started making and selling mixes for rava idli and other items (that is a story in itself). The restaurant opened again once the Emergency was lifted."

While there is the regular review jazz to be told, stuff like they serve Kannadigga style South Indian food, that their dosas are slightly crisp on the outside and little fluffy inside, their vadas are crisp to the T yet melt in the mouth when they enter it, that their service is just about right but you won't be treated like a king or a queen ;), that upma is truly comforting as it should be, WHAT Skeety would like to tell you via this blogpost is a little different. The feel of the place is like an old style cafe where perhaps our grandfathers would meet over steaming cups of coffee, a snack and truckloads of conversation. It is not a so called "cool" place. You have to sit/stand in a queue and wait for your turn and this wait can be really really long. No snobbery of pre-booking a table works here. Very regular furniture, minimalistic decor, rickety fans are the high point here. The added advantage of a visit to Mavalli Tiffin Rooms is that you get to see a lot of old-style machinery (perhaps it is not-so-old for South Indians) used to churn humungous quantities of chutneys for daily serving. They gladly allow you a tour of their busy kitchen if you feel like seeing what's cooking. The chefs in the kitchen often pass a smile as you see them work. They don't get annoyed or intimidated by visitors. The bill does not even let you feel a pinch in your pocket while your stomach thanks you for making it Dosa happy :P The menu is limited but Skeety guarantees you would love to go back for the same stuff again and again. They have modernized and opened outlets. Skeety saw a swanky MTR outlet in a mall in Bengaluru. Skeety truly feels that one should still go to the old Lalbaugh outlet for the real feel of the Mavalli Tiffin Rooms. While international food chains are plundering the Indian food scene, Mavalli Tiffin Rooms in Bengaluru, United Coffee House in Delhi, Shiv Sagar in Pune maintain that very old Indian style dining charm. Please don't let that fade away into oblivion. We need to keep the tradition alive. Go MTR!

P.S. MTR is said to be the birthplace of Rava Idli.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Biryani: A photo essay

Presenting something completely different this time. A photo essay on Biryani. The vessel below is used to make 8 kgs of Biryani at a go. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Veiled City

Several parda nasheen women pass by Skeety as she walks towards Lal Kuan after getting off the Chawri Bazaar metro station. A five minute walk later she reaches Bade Mian kheerwale. The widest of wide smiles greets her as Jamaluddin invites her in. Skeety feels as if she was the only customer he had been waiting for whole day. Such is old world hospitality. Though in this part of Delhi women walk around in veils and are seldom unaccompanied, those from outside this world are treated with equal respect. Tehzeeb reigns supreme. Skeety is made to sit on a rickety chair but is treated no less than a princess on a PINK chair.
Conversations with Jamaluddin are devoured even as the taste buds await the kheer. Questions shot by Skeety are answered with perseverance.
And then enters the much acclaimed kheer. Converstaions halt. The dessert made from rice, milk and sweet (sugar and/or jaggery) over slow fire, enters the mouth. New age gelatos cannot match this taste that takes you to pre-cooking ranges age. An earthy, sweet flavour bursts in the mouth as one takes a bite. The rest four senses stand still. Such is the spell cast by the flavours.
P.S.: Jamaluddin tells Skeety that the kheer sold at his shop became famous as "bade mian's kheer", when food writer Rahul Verma started calling it so.
From the mouth of Chawri Bazaar metro station, start walking towards Lal Kuan. On your right, you will find this shop. Skeety can give you the exact location, but then she's never upto any good. *wink*