Sunday, February 21, 2010

Happiness on a BANANA LEAF

Happiness on a BANANA LEAF
Priya Bala | TNN


Meals Ready. It’s an announcement that jumps out and grabs the office-goer who’s stepping out for lunch and the mid-day shopper. Not the ones who settle for a sandwich or a masala dosa, but those lunch-time eaters who seek the sustenance only a meal of rice, sambar, rasam, vegetables and curd (pulao and sweet extra in deluxe thali) can offer, not to mention the burp-inducing satisfaction of it all.
Such a diner finds options aplenty
amid the bustle of the commercial and shopping belt of M G Road and Church Street. Definitely downmarket and for those who care not a jot for the setting are Sesha Mahal and Kaycees, serving up thalis with thin sambar, rasam, vegetable, curd, papad and a large
enough portion of rice to please a trencherman.
Go slightly upscale and be willing to shell out a bit more and you can tuck into the offering at Ullas Refreshments at the old S h a n k a r n a g , which is now Fame, a multiplex where your eating options are limited to chicken nuggets, French fries, popcorn and cola. So, those who want a proper meal still go to Ullas, where there are both South Indian and North Indian thalis with ordinary and special versions, the latter including soup, biryani and sweet of the day. This is also where lawyers from nearby Mayo Hall court and their harassed clients frequently eat lunch. While these are thalis, served in stainless steelware with a line-up of katoris, if you want the banana leaf meal experience, that’s available in these parts too. There’s the one at Bheema’s, known for its speedy service, which is what makes this a good lunch spot for many. A chutney, two vegetables, the Andhra-style lentils and greens, are all slapped onto the leaf. Sambar, rasam, curd and sweet — anything from gulab jamun to payasam — come in katoris. The rice is unlimited and they’ll top up the accompaniments as well. The podi and ghee starter sets this meal rolling, and you can eat till you burst. Non-vegetarians often add an order of fish fry or chilli chicken to perk things up.
Another Andhra meal-on-banana-leaf is at RR on Church Street, which follows the same pattern as the Bheema version. Here, they’ll try and nudge you into beginning your meal with a starter, say, of Gobhi Manchurian.
The latest addition to the list of leaf meals available downtown is the jolada roti lunch at
Emgees, the pure-veg restaurant at the Shelton Grand Hotel. For just under Rs 100, you get to tuck into freshly-made jolada rotis, served with the traditional accompaniments of lentils and brinjal, both cooked in the North Karnataka style. Rice with sambar, rasam follows, with a sweet, and a banana to round things off. So, even when lunch choices in these parts range from multi-cuisine to McDonald’s, if a hit-the-spot thali is what you’re looking for, it’s never too far away

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