Sep 6, 2010
It was a visit that was pending since the month of Ramzan began. Zeeshan, my colleague who is away from home wanted to indulge in some Ramzan delicacies. And that's how we decided to go on an Iftar binge. We were three of us.
Bangalore is home to a large Muslim population and during the month of Ramzan, many popular areas are abuzz with activity. We chose the bustling area of Shivajinagar for our Iftar raid and this visit will surely go down memory lane.
Thanks to the indecisive Bangalore showers and the maddening traffic, we reached about 30 minutes after the time of breaking fast. This proved well for us since we missed the rush. With the novena at St Mary's Basilica in the vicinity, there was barely any space for people to walk around.
The streets of Shivajinagar wear festive look during this season. Walking through the shops selling dazzling clothes and glittery footwear is an experience in itself. But the best part here is the food. There are food stall almost everywhere and in certain areas, the entire road in and around Russel Market has food stalls on either sides. This is nothing short of heaven for a food junkie like me. The make-shift food stalls and hotels here are open almost round the clock
during this month.
Ramzan has its own delicacies to boast of. And iftar is the main meal of the day culminating the fast. If you have an appetite for non-vegetarian food, this is the place for you. Each street on either sides has humble eateries selling everything from kababs to biryani to desserts.
Hyderabadi Haleem is the most popular dish of the season and is available at most hotels in Shivajinagar. It is a type of stew made from pounded wheat and mutton (with variations of chicken and beef) made into a thick paste. The ingredients include mutton, cracked wheat, lentils, ginger and garlic paste, turmeric and spices. It is a tradition to break the daily fast (roza) at Iftar with a plateful of haleem. It is served hot topped with ghee based gravy and lime pieces, coriander and fried onions as garnish.
Walking along these streets, you can treat your taste buds to sheek kebabs, grilled chicken, spicy biryani, rumali roti with delectable chicken and beef gravies, meat rolls and cutlets. And for those with a sweet tooth, rice and milk kheer, carrot and pumpkin halwa, egg pudding, shahi tukra, sevai (vermicelli with milk and sugar) and malpua are some of the offerings.
And in case you wish to take something for the family, there are carts overloaded with dates, dry fruits, ashgourd petha and different kinds of halwa.
Our first stop was for the sheek kebabs. The aroma of marinated meat grilling over red coal dragged us and we attacked the stall like there was no other. The piping hot sheek was cooked just right with flavourful masalas to tease the palate. Melting sheek, chopped onions and a dash of lime served as a great start.
At Rs 20 for a plate of two skewers of sheek, it's a must-try. We continued on our gastronomic journey stopping by at each eatery to see what was on the platter. Yes, mutton samosas! I'd like to call them "meat" samosas considering they were Rs 5 each. But that apart, the samosas too were delicious as expected stuffed with juicy minced meat sautéed with onions and green chillies. Though soaked in oil and crispy, once you bite into them, it's just a mouthful of paradise.
Eating fatty foods calls for some refreshing drink. Right next door was a stall selling falooda. The pink and orange colours were tempting and we shared one amongst ourselves. Rs 15 and you get a tall glass of chilled falooda. Not very great on taste, we were glad we didn't order more.
Our next stop was for some more kebabs. This time it was veal (tender beef). We ordered one plate which ofcourse had small chunks of veal, marinated in spices and deep cried in oil. Once deep fried, it is garnished with coriander leaves and fried curry leaves. The red food colouring of the meat against the green garnishing made the kebabs irresistible. A 100 grams would cost you about Rs 25.
Next on our list was the chicken cutlet. Though the hawkers here called it Chicken Rogan Gosh, it was nothing close. But in taste, it did not let us down. It's the usual chicken cutlet with mashed
potatoes, dipped in egg and deep fried. It somehow does not taste the same when made at home. A ketchup dip would make the dish complete.
But nonetheless it was a good bet at Rs 15 a piece.
As we continued to walk along the street, we came across the carts selling lassi and set curd. If you enjoy lassi, don't miss these stalls. A glass of chilled thick lassi costs Rs 10 was is great to wash down the plate of kebabs. You can also try some set curd with sugar served in matkas (earthern pots).
With two more rounds of sheek, it was time to pack dinner. Yes, we still had place for food. Though we wanted to taste the haleem, the description of the dish didn't go too well on us and we decided to instead settle for some kheema roti. A thick roti stuffed with kheema masala is a meal in itself. And of course, we did pack some chicken biryani and chicken kabab.
And finally we laid our hands on some dessert. Since we had already experimented enough, we played safe and feasted on some Bengali Malai sandwich and some rasmalai.
We spent less than a hundred ruppes per head but had a feast we will never forget. The dim lit street, the make-shift stalls, the aroma of meat in the air, the colourful dishes (though the place scores low on hygiene) and the friendly food hawkers made the Iftar binge a great experience and a "Dear Diary" moment.
Shivajinagar is the place to visit for those craving for street food. Our two cents - leave your table manners behind.
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