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Yearning for the perfect dosa?
R A Krishna |
March 20, 2006
We continue our reader-driven series on great restaurants and eating places across the country.
R A Krishna tells you where to get the best dosa in Bangalore.
Bangalore can aptly be called the mushroom city. Like Topsy in Uncle Tom's Cabin, it 'just growed and growed.' And, with a constant influx of outsiders, it is hardly surprising that dosa aficionados seem to be in short supply.
Blessed as we are with epicurean taste buds allied with a sense of adventure, my family and I have made several rounds of eateries said to serve the best dosas in Bangalore. And we've realised the Masala Dosa is the thing to eat.
While the shape may differ, there is no difference in the components, the dosa per se, the palia or potato filling and the accompaniments, usually chutney and sambhar. For the purist in me, no self-respecting restaurant should serve sambhar with Masala Dosa, but I understand concessions have to be made for those with lesser tastes.
So, here is the Honours list:
~ Central Tiffin Rooms or CTR in Malleswaram
~ Hotel Janardhana on Kumara Krupa Road (between Race Course Road and Sivananda Stores junction passing through what was Hotel Bangalore International)
~ Janatha Hotel at Malleswaram 8th Cross
~ Vidyarthi Bhavan in Gandhi Bazaar
Let us now look at the commonalities of these places.
They are all unimpressive looking, for one.
Secondly, these restaurants are part of what I like to call Old Bangalore, a place with a unique and gentle charm and unhurried grace.
These restaurants have allowed time to flow around them and are not affected by its passage. So, if the service seems a tad slow, it is because of this rather than any laxity on the part of the staff. Also, please bear in mind that the best paintings were created over a long period of time.
Thirdly, their core competence lies in their dosas. The idlis and vadas are passable. A famous business guru recently mentioned that, for a company to survive and thrive in competitive times, they must be the best in one thing; for the rest, they can be up to average market standards. So it is with these places.
Now, the evaluation.
CTR is the first, and the dosas are heavenly. It is a nondescript looking place that, surprisingly, has a board that reads Sukh Sagar in Kannada. It is situated on 7th Cross, at the corner of Margosa Road.
If you want ambience, go elsewhere.
One more thing, CTR is open for just a few hours in the morning and closes at 12.30 pm. In the evenings, it is open till 8.30 pm.
As for the dosas, they are a lovely golden brown. The texture is crisp on the outside, soft on the inside. The flavour is yummy, all dosa and butter. The potato palia is wonderful -- well cooked, with the right mixture of spice and flavour. The chutney is obviously the fruit of years of experience.
Follow it up with coffee and you are down by less than Rs 20. Go away smiling at having experienced a piece of history. This really is the stuff of legend.
Next, Janardhana. Here, wonder of wonders, you have a nice compound to park your car or two wheeler. Approach it from the Race Course Road end.
The dosa, again nice and soft inside and crisp on the outside, is served with great chutney and sambhar. Great flavour, great taste.
Further south is Vidyarthi Bhavan. The dosas are well done -- a tad too well done in my view -- but I could be in a minority of one as far as that is concerned. Only chutney served with it, which satisfies the purist in me.
Then, Janatha Hotel in Malleswaram 8th Cross, nearer to Sampige Road on the small stretch between Margosa and Sampige Road.
The dosa here compels you to get lyrical. Again, perfect flavour and taste. Can life get better than when you follow the dosas with a good cup of coffee?
I am not really one to quibble about which one is the best. These guys know their job. Trying to criticise them is like, as Evelyn Waugh says about Wodehouse, 'carrying a shovel to a soufflé.'
R A Krishna lives in Bangalore.
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