There is the whole street dedicated to food in Bangalore and by no coincidence it is called Food Street. Even though the street is quite short stretch of food shops, you can find a variety of foods here: typical street snacks – chats, bread and rice dishes, ice creams and desserts that represent quite a few regions of India.
While most of the vendors on this street operate throughout the day, you might think what’s the big deal about it if you come here early, when there is not much action happening and chilled shopkeepers are only getting ready for the evening. However, as soon as the sun starts sinking towards the horizon and after work crowd spills out to the streets, this place bucks up with a snap of fingers.
Frying, stirring, mixing and pouring with steam and flames rising from the stoves and grills, along with trails of nostril tickling aromas. Come to Bangalore Food Street with a big appetite and preferably bring some company along so you can share the meals and get to try as much as possible of all of the delicious options available.
When you see a man flipping big round flat bread on a dome shaped pan with fire burning underneath, stop by and try Rumali roti. The name of this bread was derived from Urdu word rumaal, which means a fine fabric kerchief worn as a headdress by Sikh men. The bread is so thin that it takes only seconds to bake. You will get it served with curry for dipping and a wedge of onion for that extra zing.
Invented in Gujarat Dabeli is yet another sweet and spicy snack you might want to try when a mound of buns garnished with pomegranate seeds, peanuts and sev noodles catches your eye. Dabeli is made of soft pav bread filled with a mix of boiled potatoes, date-tamarind chutney and fragrant masala made of cumin, cinnamon, cloves coriander and chili. Get it warmed up on a tava in a decent amount of butter (Julia Child would have loved India, I am sure) and munch it with onion and roasted chillies.
Raj kachori with its origins in Delhi looks like an oversized Dahi puri – stuffed pastry basket – that I wrote about in my Mubai street food overview. The fact that pastry shell of Raj kachori is much bigger means that there is much more space for the filling. Inside of it you will find tamarind and coriander chutney, boiled potatoes, chickpeas and sweetened yoghurt, all sprinkled with a bit of chilly and garnished with carrot julienne, coriander, pomegranate seeds, sev noodles and cashews. Sweet, sour and touch spicy flavour might leave you a bit confused whether you are having a snack or a dessert.
Visiting Karnataka and not trying holige – round flatbread with sweet filling – would be a real crime. It is Karnataka’s favourite dish during festivals, marriages and other special celebrations. Holige (also known as bele obbattu) can come in a variety of fillings including peanut and sesame. On Bangalore Food Street you can find them made with coconut and chana dal. You will see balls of dough with encased filling inside being pressed flat and then cooked on a griddle in front of you. I found dal holige less sweet, but the one with coconut had more flavour to it.
Yellow fiber-like coils of sweets called sutterfeni (‘sutter’ meaning thread and ‘feni’ – fine) piled up in stacks and a big pan of steaming hot yellow coloured milk will be a sign that it is time for yet another sweet treat. Originating from the deserts of Gujarat and Rajastan these sweets made of rice flour and deep fried in ghee can be eaten on their own. Here on Food street you can try Sutterfeni with saffron-almond milk. Watch one of those coils placed in a bowl and hot badam milk poured over the top of it. The coil softens up instantly, turning into a mushy consistency. If you are of saffron fan just like I am, this dessert is just for you.
Gulkan – rose petal jam – is popular in Indian cuisine, so don’t miss a chance to try dessert made with it. Head to the very end of the Food Street and look out for a shop called “Shivanna Gulkand Store”. From the first sight it might seem like an ordinary shop selling chips, bananas and soft drinks, but don’t get deceived by the storefront and ask for a special Gulkan. You will be handed over a bowl filled with mixed fruit, ice cream and a good dollop of jam which is said to have a cooling effect on a hot day. Be prepared for an explosion of sweetness and powerful rose flavour.