My friends and kins know, how much I love the month of Ramadan. I have many friends from my teenage days, who follow Islam, therefore on one side while I understand the meaning of this month, my interest lies in the different delicacies I can try during this season.
Ever since we discovered the pleasure of visiting mosque road, Frazer town, we usually pay 4-5 visits during this time. We always remind ourselves, that we should come and explore the eateries and food establishments even beyond this season, but somehow it does not happen. The fun lies in hopping from one stall to the other, trying one dish after the other. This is that only time of the year when I see the city in a festive mode, brightly lit, people (read foodies) of all caste and creed throng this place to eat their favourites. Some even come to soak in the frenzy. But overall amazing ambience.
This year – we thought of giving a break to the usual hopping and start from an establishment and then moving on to the stall-hopping. What better way than starting from “Rahhams” – a favourite with the Biriyani loving Bangalorean population.
It took me some time to reach Fraser town wading through the Bangalore traffic, but thinking of the food & the destination – my patience level did not dip.
Rahham’s is an old establishment of repute, it has 6 branches across the city. While I am a regular to their Old Airport road branch, closest to my house, this was my first visit here. The old ways charm makes me nostalgic. What I love is the mutton biriyani here. This has a unique taste. I only get this taste when I visit friends’ inviting me for “dawat” in their homes & in Rahhams. The rice is not the usual long grain but jeera samba rice – this is “dakhni” biriyani, where the meat is already cooked & then this “akhni” is added to the par cooked rice, which is cooked separately & everything is then put together in layers for “dum”. My friends informed me that these are common in parts of Tamil Nadu. It’s mild and has slightly tangy taste. The meat is so very tender, that they melt in the mouth. The rice & meat blends so well – because of this moistness I don’t need any other side dish.
We came out and here starts the actual trail – I walked a bit and met my gang waiting. The first thing we attacked were the “paththar gosht” (for those who are not aware of this, its chicken/mutton/beef simmered and cooked over a heavy slab of stone, which in turn takes 4-5 hours to get heated. The name comes from there). These are thin slices of meet slow cooked over the slab of stone & they are awesome. The texture of the meat – gives away whether they were really cooked over the stone slab or cooked in pressure cooker & then placed over the stone.
The next thing in my list was “sheek” – I love the way the minced meat is pressed against the iron rod and then roasted over open fire: the smokiness, the smell, the flicker of the fire, the oil dripping & the wait to get it on the plate – all adds up to the charm. All you require is a thin slice of lemon, if you prefer a bit of onion too. I take 2-4 sheeks in a plate & seek the next shop where I can get a ‘khubus’ or a roomali roti. For me these can be my year-long dinner!
With so much of meat for that night – next thing I wanted was something sweet. I love a couple of sweets around this time, first being the ‘shahi tukda’ or the ‘double ka meetha’. I guess I fell in love with this from my Hyderabad days. I love it when the shopkeeper, encouraged by my oohs & ahhs, generously pours the “rabdi” like topping over the ghee fried bread piece cut into a triangle and soaked in sugar syrup. If I still have the appetite after this I continue with other sweets or sometimes a firni, if I can lay my hands on this.
I love seeing the sherbats with basil seeds arranged in a delightful manner, with hint of added colors to attract people, though I have never tried it.
Though we have lassi shop, lassi point, Bombay chowpatty,creme stone & lots of food establishments around this place – during this time, I prefer hopping around and have it from the make shift shops or the stalls outside the actual shop. The only place where I don’t mind to take a stroll and see if there is room enough for trying any other sweet is Charminar kebab Place. Again, another corner attraction, the way they place the stall in the pavement, stack up their sweet invitations, whether I eat or not, I take pleasure in seeing it like a ‘’voyeur’’.
The evening stroll has to come to an end with a masala soda around the corner or a sulaimani tea from Taj, the legendary shop which continues to operate in the same building over so many years. I prefer my sulaimani in a glass only.
Every year my Ramzan or Iftar walk is never confined to a single walk around this place. It definitely spans over many evenings. I find myself in Fraser town, with company of foodies every now and then – during this time.
Led by Sangeeta Di (from www.Lifeisavacation.in) we spent another Sunday evening – with much planning ahead (she literally carried tissue rolls, bottle of water, disposable carry bags) – to bring back the excess food home. This time we started with “bheja puff” from Albert Bakery, 2 young gentleman Arun & Soumya, volunteered to reach the venue earlier & brave the queue. Once all those who were supposed to join, gathered – we had the puffs (the flaky crust gives in to the bheja which almost melts in the mouth like a dollop of cream).
We then make a pitstop at the café Arabica, to reserve my choicest Baklava and head to Anisa’s. Here we had preordered our mutton samosa & biriyani. We try the samosas right in their office & even start digging into the biriyani. Though the initial plan was to eat all that we can, collect the biriyani and other main course like dishes and sit & have somewhere. The warm hosts at Anisa’s never complains and we had our samosas & nibble on the biriyani there & finally leave the office only to pose for a few groupfies. If you are happy and you know – take groupfies!!
As we headed for the MM road – we spotted a vendor selling ‘’khichda’’. Now I have had heard a lot about this from Rajarshee who has stayed in Mumbai – but I have not tried before – try karna to banta hai – he had two huge “handis”of chicken & beef khichda – it was amazing. The khichda is more liquid like – it comprises of rice, broken wheat, 7 types of lentils & a special masala which this gentleman gets from Mumbai, as he claimed. The hot bowl of khichda comes with a generous helping of ghee & crispy fried onions. Inspite of it being piping hot – it finished in no minutes.
In need for a we spotted Alibaba. We went to the first floor and made ourselves comfortable for a really long time.
The initial intent was to just have Moroccan tea and leave. But with the comfort of having a back rest, AC, warm hosts – who happily let us arrange the light. cups, trays, etc. – we really ended up sitting for a long long time. We had a nice conversation with the restaurateur too. We got to know only during this time – they are open till 5 a.m. in the morning. They served us the Moroccan tea in a beautiful tea pot along with a set of tiny glasses & we filled the room with fun n laughter. When the hearts are in sync – it’s so easy to accept the other person, you enjoy it all the more. Finally, we realized we have spent over an hour here & by the time we came downstairs – it was dark.
The call of the cricket match on that day was overpowering but somewhere it had to be sacrificed – for someone in our group. Online cricket score kept us going & we headed to the Chichaba’s Taj – again aim was to check out the ‘sheeks’ – they were amazing, so we ordered one, two, three & then said … some other day, let’s call it a day.
On our way back we passed the bucket biriyani but had to give it a pass , as we already packed from Anisa’s. We reached Café Arabica had 2 set of Baklavas, packed for home & headed for Taj. We had our Sulaimani there (for those who are wondering whats sulaimani, its lemon tea from Taj) . Then I realized my quota of double ka meetha was not ticked. I found a gentle man (surprisingly who speaks Bengali , working for one of the shops here) selling double ka meetha & other sweets. I bought the double ka meetha , savoured it in time & ordered for a firni. The firni turned out to be an average affair, given that they have used suji/rawa instead of the usual rice flour know to us.
I even peeped inside Savoury to see what special food they have to offer – they had hareera, however, at that time it was over. Alas, we discovered its Sunday night beckoning Monday morning & therefore walked till Pista house outlet opposite to Albert, packed Haleem for the household & called it a night.
My next 2 Iftar food visits were to Koramangala – near the JNC college. Surprisingly this place had much more number of stalls than usual. This year the food mela near Bilal mosque in banerghatta road was not happening – hence the crowd as well as the number of stalls were more here. We tried the usual stuff like stuffed naan or baida roti, keema parotta, sheeks , a few kebabs – ended it with double ka meetha from Empire and headed home.
The following week we were resolute to go to a new place for Iftar food -walk, we went towards kamanahalli & kalyan nagar , last year I had tried the cheese samosa in front of sreeraj lassi – but this year did not find those stalls. I popped my head in Empire there to check if there is something interesting. Looking at the mutton samosa (the usual triangular ones) & the baida roti with fish – decided to try that. It was an average affair, but the heart was content on having something from that part of the city. From there we straight headed to Johnson Market, to check the food mela near fanoos. Usually we try the Mambo, Jumbo, Rambo – but this time we did not do it. We walked a bit ahead and found a stall in front of a tailor shop (2, Johnson Market) – selling sheeks. The moment we tried the first one, we knew it was really good. They insisted on trying their open shawarma too. 3 helpings of sheek & an open shawarma were enough to hint – let’s call it an evening. We packed a few sheeks for home, until we are stepping out again. While crossing fanoos – could not resist their beef samosa & spring roll – tried them all. Now I told myself, let’s give a change to the routine of finishing these trails with double ka meetha, so we ordered for khubani ka meetha (a sweet made from apricot).
In the meanwhile, we did not realize that almost a month was about to pass, so one evening I quickly paid a visit to the Paradise Restaurant in Indiranagar & packed Mutton Haleem for home. Though this is not an exact food walk, but, for me, Ramzan would have been incomplete without tasting Haleem from this place. Earlier when Pista house was not there in Bangalore, every year, we used to order Haleem through Gati , from Hyderabad.
Today we felt that as its almost the end of this holy month & just a few days left – lets visit Fraser Town, one last time. We started with Karama this time – their specialties for this year are cream chicken, chicken lal bazaar, bun with paya, chicken sufi, al moora, mutton shammi kebab, boti chicken, chicken fajita, tawa bheja, mutton liver curry. In Falooda and beverages they have introduced watermelon body cooler. We tried a flavoured halwa like dessert called the Basboosa.
Even Atty’s Bakery have opened a dessert outlet right outside this, where the caption is “Ättys ROYAL DESSERT PAAN , No tobacco, no Supari” . Then we headed back to the person dolling the khichda, had a bowlful of khichda.
Then we headed for the phaal & sheeks near Savera restaurant. On our way we found that by this time there were some stalls selling camel savories, we came back and tasted them too.
Near Savera we met a group of Iranian students who were selling Iranian Sweets made of no sugar & honey only. The money collected in this process – was to go to an orphanage. The cause and their English in a lullaby tone made me have a quick conversation and buy a pack from them.
Behind this we could see huge vessels of biriyani being prepared for all the mosque goers for their morning rituals. It was a feast to watch.
On our way, we met a dear friend, had a sulaimani & realized that this is possibly the last food trip during Ramzan this season.
This year we could not make it Russel market, Shivaji nagar – which is the biggest hub. We fondly remember the experience last year – the mid night frenzy, Naser guiding us through the alleys, explaining us the food & we kept it on eating till 3 a.m. This year we could not even make it Tilak Nagar, which also has shops on either side of the roads.
But the unique things which we tried this year, the several trips to Frazer Town, the return journey through Cox Town, watching the old houses – quiet households, are fond memories to last for a year or more.
Thank you all for patiently reading this long passage. It’s not only a food journey, but a chord tied to the old part of Bangalore I am very fond of.
My Two Cents for all those who are still thinking of visiting these pockets of Bangalore – especially Frazer Town – if you have still not visited & you don’t have any plans of setting out of the city, please explore this food-fun-fair. Things which you can try – keema paratha or baida roti, different rolls, kebabs (especially the sheek kebab), keema samosa, tikkas, Haleem, paya, khichda , hareera, different type of biriyani ,phaal & obviously the patthar gosht. If you wish you can try the fish fry & quail too. If you are lucky & experimental – you can try camel meat. A couple of years back – we had Emu meat too.
Famous outlets to try all these: Karama (different kebabs, biriyani & this years speciality – bun with paya) , Savoury (hareera), Albert Bakery (bheja fry puff), Pista house (Haleem) , Chichaba’s Taj (kebabs), Savera (paththar gosht), Rahham (mutton biriyani), Charminar Kebab Paradise (kebabs & sweets),Alibaba Café (for the morocco tea) , Taj (sulaimani) , Anisa (mutton samosa), Café Arabica (baklava) etc. In sweets you will get spoilt for options – I suggest the khowa naan, shahi tukda, Qubani ka meetha, firni & baklavas for sure.
These are purely my own liking’s and #nonsponsored.