Nostalgic for Bangalore Dosai

Ruchi Ghanashyam Wednesday 24th May 2023 08:28 EDT

Last year, while returning from Bangalore, I felt so inspired by the wide varieties of delicious breakfasts available in the city that I devoted a column to that very subject. From the food perspective, Bangalore is really a paradise for vegetarians, though it offers a lot to meat-eaters too. 

Given the even temperatures in Bangalore throughout the year and much lower pollution levels than Delhi and other cities in north India, Bangalore is the best place to retreat to especially during winter months. It was my intention to write about the new discoveries I made this year during this winter in Bangalore. Other issues and developments managed to edge Bangalore out. Until now!

According to our friend Rajaram, who lives in Bangalore, Dosas and traffic are the two most written about subjects on Bangalore. While Bangalore’s dosas are to die for, the city’s traffic might kill you before you can reach your destination. At least that’s the much touted wisdom. I found Bangalore traffic cumbersome at times, but travelling by car in central London can be fairly exasperating as well! The state of Bangalore’s roads is another matter altogether!

Though Rajaram advised me to refrain from writing about Dosas, I’m hoping that the readers of this column in the UK and Europe, may not be so familiar with the subject and may enjoy a little diversion. 

There are three main schools of loyal dosa fans in Bangalore. There are the devoted followers of Mavalli Tiffin Room, better known as MTR, the iconic restaurant which is more familiar to people outside Karnataka for its packaged ready to cook packs and South Indian spices like sambhar, rasam and puliyogare powders amongst others. Then there is Vidyavathi Bhavan in Gandhi Bazar, which too enjoys a die-hard following. When we went to eat there, we found a large crowd of people from different parts of Bangalore who had come just for breakfast and were waiting outside patiently with their token numbers. The third brand with its own devoted fan-following is CTR Shri Sagar in Malleshwaram (an old and traditional kannadiga locality of Bangalore).  

Our visit to CTR Shri Sagar was meticulously planned by our friends Prabhu and Rajaram. Their wives, Subha and Padmini joined the excursion. We reached CTR in the morning, soon after the place opened but just before crowds came in. With the entire first floor available to us, we chose the best seats and ordered in comfort. That one visit confirmed my vote to CTR. I have never eaten a dosa that’s golden crisp from the outside but gently soft on the inside, except at CTR. Their Kesari  Bath (Karnataka’s luxurious version of our humble Sooji Halwa), and filter coffee were equally good, as were the items ordered by our friends. 

The visit to Vidyarthi Bhavan, the other renowned Dosa place, was totally impromptu. We were in the neighbourhood one morning and decided to find the famous eatery. The market area was in a mess as a flyover was under construction in front of the eatery. Vidyarthi Bhavan itself was also in turmoil as an expansion project was underway. It would have taken us more than an hour to get seated inside.  Ghanashyam remembered our friend Navin Kumar and called him. Navin called his friend inside and Voila! We got two chairs on a table for four. A couple of youngsters were on the other two chairs. Both had come a long distance. Every single chair was occupied. The crowd was unbelievable. It spoke of the depth of affection enjoyed by the brand! Perhaps due to the crowds and the cramped seating arrangement, I did not enjoy my dosa as much as I did at CTR. I promised myself a better planned visit next time!

I had eaten earlier a few times at MTR. The ready to cook Rava dosa and idli packs have been the answers for our sudden cravings for South Indian food. But when it comes to dosas, my vote as of now stands with CTR Shri Sagar of Malleshwaram. 

I hope that at least some of the readers of this column visit Bangalore and travel to the many splendours of Karnataka thereafter. For food lovers, the visit would be incomplete without trying all the three dosa places. I would eagerly await feedback from readers on which one they found the best! 

It was my intention to write a little about the beautiful heritage sites, forests, waterfalls and wildlife to be found in Karnataka. But that will have to wait for another time.

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