In my youthful days, if there was an event going on in our area, we were the people who would tie banners or beautify the surrounding areas. This involved decorating the circles and nearby trees. Such days would take away our late evening as we used to work till 12 midnight.
After all the exercise, we would be hungry. This is when we used to visit the restaurants open for people like us. The great Food culture that evolved in different parts of the city of Bangalore is still catering to us in the same way. Let us try to understand Bangalore’s food culture and its evolution. If you are ready to read about how to eat according to ancient Indian culture, you can read it here!
Bangalore Food Culture: An evolution
Until the advent of the software industry in the early 90s, Bangalore was a relaxed place. Moreover, this was very evident from many aspects, and food was one of them, which was available even at around midnight as written earlier. Some of the eateries then stood as proof of this type of food culture.
It all started in the early 20th century when the entrepreneurs then were eager to explore something different in terms of food catering to the higher middle class. We will now look into the list of restaurants based on their established date and who are still in the game. The oldest of its kind is the legendary MTR food.
1. MTR (Mavalli Tiffin Room)
An area attached to Lalbagh close to its west gate is called by the name Mavalli. Standing tangential to this place is a restaurant that started in 1924 by Parampalli Yagnanarayana Maiya. This brand eventually went on to become a huge success, by also entering ready to cook food.
2. Shivaji Military Hotel
At the same time came the first military hotel that has a couple of stories attached to its history.
On the one hand, people attribute to the military personnel visiting the place and discussing their plans gave birth to the name Military hotel.
On the other hand, right from Shahji’s time, there were some places that the military force was associated with, so the name military hotel. Also because they refrained from preparing Beef and Pork, Hindu came in as a prefix to their names.
This was also started at the same time as MTR and was started by Manaji Rao.
3. Udupi Sri Krishna Bhavan
After their small hotel ventures, HV Janardhanaiah started Udupi Sri Krishna Bhavan to cater to the higher middle class. Along with idli, dosa and the likes, the restaurant also served meals.
After that, they never looked back and now they have 4 restaurants with one of them on the highway near Channapatna, on Mysore Road.
4. MLTR (Mahalakshmi Tiffin Rooms)
This is an old tiffin room that has a typical ambiance of that of a vintage mosaic flooring. Though this is not as famous as that of the others, the quality of Masala Dosa is a blend of the old thick ones and new crispy ones, that taste heavenly.
This was started in 1926 and is almost as old as MTR. Another USP of this tiffin rooms is the separate reservation for family (women).
A little bakery in the 1940s went on to become very famous all over the city. This little bakery was started by PO Koshy. Started as a bakery, it now serves a wide range of cuisines, mostly the food items that were not of this land and culture, and has a decent seating capacity too. This is called by the surname of the founder “Koshy’s”.
6. Vidyarthi Bhavan
A little later, one of the most famous restaurants in Bangalore to date was started by Venkataramana Ural in 1943. Though subsequently, it has changed hands concerning the management, it has not stopped attracting the crowd.
Even today people stand in long queues to get to taste the famous thick masala dosas.
7. CTR (now Shree Sagar)
A need for Malleshwaram crowd to rejoice Masala Dosas gave birth to the Central Tiffin Rooms in 1950 by one Mr. Raghavendra. This is standing as a great attraction to date in Malleshwaram feeding Masala Dosas for heavy crowds daily.
After handovers to different people, the name was changed to Shree Sagar in the early 90s, though people still prefer calling it by the name CTR.
8. India Coffee House
Well before the independence days (also read about unique freedom fighters from this article), there were coffee houses that were started by Britishers, which did not allow Indians inside. This led to a cold war and made Indians start their own. It was initially started in Delhi by a group of people.
To give it a great push and spread its wings, a cooperative society was formed in Bangalore in the year 1957. Since then Indian Coffee house started in many places across the country. The famous Indian Coffee House in Bangalore stood in MG road until it was forced to move to Church Street off late, for some reason.
9. NMH (New Modern Hotel)
The New Modern Hotel was started as a premium lodge cum restaurant. This hosted a lot of writers, directors, musicians (read more about Indian musical instruments here) from the yesteryears and some of them still prefer to stay in this lodge to write their scripts.
This hotel was started by Lakshmi Narayana Rao in 1959. It stands majestically in the old JC road with two floors serving food and providing shelter.
10. Iyer Mess
It’s a typical Tamil style Iyer’s food that consists of a range of south Indian delicacies neatly arranged and served in a banana leaf. Though the neighborhood has changed drastically, this very place stands the same since it was started in 1959 by Mahadeva Iyer in Malleshwaram.
The current owners, children of Mahadeva Iyer are presently looking after the place, who have deliberately maintained the place as it was 60 years back.
11. Brahmins Coffee Bar
In 1965, what was started by Narasimha Rao as a small shop that would serve idlis prominently continued and came in a big way. The butter-soft idlis with unlimited Chutney that they serve, comes as a blessing for the big fan following.
Slowly their children started restaurant chains as Adigas, by their surname, which is now a popular eatery across Bangalore and even in certain parts of the country and the world.
12. Janata Hotel
A premium hotel was built and started in 1971 in Malleshwaram, which added more and more restaurants to its bucket. Specially and uniquely added to the menu were Mysore Pak and Maddur Vada, which was not available anywhere in the vicinity.
13. Dwaraka Hotel
What started in NR Colony, a part of Basavanagudi in 1972 by Shridhar S Holla, is now a very famous place in Basavanagudi. There were already established hotels when they started this, but then, each hotel had a unique selling point.
They started preparing a set of three dosas made using different ingredients that will be relatively much thicker than the normal dosas, and softer too. These dosas were unique to Dwaraka Hotel and were not well known at that time. This has continued to be their item to date.
14. Chickpet Donne Biryani House
Since most of the restaurants then were hosting only for vegetarians, there was a need for the restaurants that would cater to the non-vegetarians who were sharing the city in equal numbers. In 1975, these tasty Biryanis occupied the central part of the city, in Pete area.
Donne Biryani was cooked by the Marathas (Read about qualities of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj here) and it was from there that the recipes got migrated, which was later catered to the meat-eaters of Bangalore.
15. Veena Stores
It all started as a small store in 1977 that was mainly catering to the daily needs of the people of Sampige Road. Slowly evolving to serve the locals of Malleshwaram with the unserved local recipes of south Karnataka like Avalakki, Khara Bath and Bisibele Bath.
It still serves from the same place where people do not mind waiting for a long time standing, only to taste their delicacies.
16. Cafe Darshini
All the listed restaurants above either acted like stores, catering to the customers outside their premises or having their customers sit and eat. But, a revolutionary idea by Prabhakar changed the way people started eating. The changed way had its services as follows.
- Customers would collect the coupons from a cashier by paying cash
- Customers submit the coupon to the person taking care of ordering from the open kitchen outlet
- Food will be prepared in the nearby open kitchen inside the premise where customers just ordered
- The customers will be served with the order within minutes of the order
- Customers will use the tables arranged inside the restaurant that has a place both to sit and stand
- Customers leave the plates from where they ate once they are done with the food
The following were the advantages of this type of service model:
- Less priced food as there are no servers
- Open and clean kitchen for the customers, increasing transparency
- Food available in less time
- No need to think of hundreds of options to order from
This was conceptualized by Prabhakar in 1983 and was given the name Darshini (customers can see the entire process)
17. Upahara Darshini
In the same year Prabhakar’s brother, Jagannath started that same concept in DVG Road, Gandhi Bazaar. This went on to become a super hit, which helped Jagannath to start a chain of restaurants by name UD (Upahara Darshini).
This was a brief history of how Bangalore supported the beginning of restaurants. When people of Bangalore started enjoying visiting restaurants on Sundays (which was the only weekly holiday of that time), more and more restaurants started opening, which resulted in some places where the whole road was dedicated to food. Let us see how they will be like in our coming section.
18. Bangalore Food Street
The food street is a street dedicated to the food of different types. The first of its kind was popularized in Vishweshwarapuram, Bangalore. It all started as a few mobile carts selling different south Indian cuisines that slowly evolved into small shops retaining the mobile carts.
When the whole street was full of a collection of such vendors, people started flocking in, to happily eat. Subsequently, the road was dedicated to food, by stopping vehicles from entering the street at different times in the evening, which is the most happening time.
You can have a glimpse of how it looks and how all you can experience this type of a unique old concept through the below video.
Slowly, this concept happened in many parts of Bangalore, like
- BTM layout
- Basaveshwaranagar, etc.
Meals were a part of some of the restaurants, but they were just mini-meals, which was confined in terms of quantity that was served. The restaurants did not provide its customers with a free hand in having their meals, which is when the concept of full meals was pitched in, the full meals. Full meals consisted of unlimited rice with the sides. The rest of the meals remained the same.
In the meantime, different cuisines entered Bangalore from different places. Trust me, they were all super hits in this place. Bangaloreans had migrated from different places for a very long time. They welcomed all kinds of cuisines.
The beautiful part of diversity is in the way that people have learned to be locals. Though many people have gotten migrated from different parts of India, in older times, the first thing that the migrants would involve themselves in was learning to be like the locals.
This never meant that they sacrifice their food or rituals. This meant that when they were outside their homes, they should follow the way the locals lived.
Besides, even the locals were welcoming people from other places, not just people, their food and other habits too. It was a win-win situation for everyone. This was the main reason for so many varieties of everything.
The same things happened in Bangalore that saw a diversified food culture. Bangalore was really happy about it because that did not harm anyone. Let us discuss some of the cuisines that Bangalore had to offer.
Bangalore Famous Delicacies with Special Items
The favorite and famous delicacies apart from traditional south India meals are:
- North Indian
- Tandoori Roti
- Pav Bhaji
- Aloo Mattar
- North Karnataka
- Jolada Rotti
- Kaalu Huli
- Soppu Eerulli
- Ragi Mudde Oota
- Kollu Huli
- Soppu Saaru
- Jiv Kadagi
- Andhra Style
- Bellulli Rasam
- Gongura Chutney
- Fried Rice
- Rice Bowls
Following them soon were some of the cuisines that came from the other states, like:
- Kerala Style
- Avi Rotti
- Dal Bhati
- Moong ki Daal Halwa
- Gujarati delicacies
Simultaneously, premium restaurants were into trying something unique too. They came up with buffet systems to attract their customers. This was a great concept and have advantages to both customers and the owners, like:
- A limited number of dishes to be served
- A limited number of servers
- Happy customers who can eat however much they would want to
- Less number of cooks to prepare the same dishes
By the time it was the early 2000s, the plan was to introduce more and more exotic items into new age restaurants, by the popular widespread menus. This gave birth to many exotic widespread buffet restaurants in the heart of the city like:
- Mainland China
- Three-quarter Chinese
A few years later, international cuisines made way to Bangalore, like:
- Som tum
- Phat Thai Kung
- Kaeng Phet pet Yang
- Exotic fruit
Along with the latest addition, which is Barbecue, the most recent addition that has gone on to become a hit.
Bangalore Street Food List and Best Fast Food
Apart from these let us now see the different kinds of street foods that are available across the streets in Bangalore. Street food has also been introduced to Bangaloreans from different parts of India and the world. Let us start from the local most street foods first and go on adding the food that has come from different places across India and the world.
Bangalore, true to its cosmopolitanism, has slowly evolved in catering to people from all over the world. This has been the reason behind categorizing food into the below mentioned three categories.
Local Street Food
These are the kinds of street food that are one of its kind in the world. Though some of them might have a source from the other places, more or less, it is different here and this variation not available anywhere else.
Churumuri, when directly translated to Hindi will result in Namkeen, which can be referred to as Dry Snacks in English. They are mostly kept on the shelf. While preparing, these dry snacks will be mixed with raw vegetables, sweet Tamarind Juice and a few selected masala powders resulting in this type of street food. Kadle Puri (puffed rice) is added wherever the name has puri as the suffix.
- Tomato Puri
- Tikki Puri
- Southekai (cucumber) Puri
- Boti (finger chips) Puri
- Bhel Puri
- Nippattu Puri
These are the colloquial counterparts of the chaats prepared in the northern part of the country. They are prepared with mostly the same ingredients with the variations being the changes in the proportions in the ingredients. Besides, there are some main differences concerning some ingredients like peas, whose addition gives Pani Puri a Bangalorean feel, as opposed to Chana everywhere else.
- Masala Puri
- Pani Puri
- Dahi Puri
- Sev Puri
- Alu Puri
Bajji and Bonda
Deep-fried street food is not new to Bangalore. They are as old as some of the oldest hotels in Bangalore. The deep-fried street food we are talking about is the Bajji and Bonda.
Bondas are prepared by rolling cooked vegetables inside the flour, making them into a round ball, and frying them, whereas Bajjis are prepared by rolling raw vegetables into flour and then frying them. The main difference between Bajji and Bonda is the ingredients being boiled in the latter.
- Alu Bonda
- Egg Bonda
- Donnamenisanakai (Capsicum) Bajji
- Balekai (Banana) Bajji
- Eerulli (Onion) Bajji
- Menasinakai (Chilli) Bajji
As opposed to the normal samosa that is stuffed with potatoes with additional ajwain added for both taste and to enable digestion, here in the streets of Bangalore, you see a different kind of Samosas. They are crispier, dark brown with additional vegetables stuffed inside. To add taste to it, they are given with raw onions with the sweet tamarind juice added to it.
This is very special to Bangalore alone, which can be categorized into a desert. This has a lot of varieties that add to the already existing taste of Gulkand. Gulkand is a sugary substance. The sugar solution is mixed with a few petals of Rose to get the taste. (Read more on dry fruits consumption here)
The variations are as follows:
- Benne (Butter) topping
- Fruits topping
- Ice Cream topping
Muskin Jola (Indian Corn)
A very simple recipe that is sold in nook and corner of Bangalore that is perhaps the healthiest of all the street food. The Indian corn heated in charcoal. Once it turns golden brown, some flavors are added to it which could vary as follows:
- Chilli sauce
Musuku is cover, so Muskin Jola means corn that is covered and that which is not revealed.
South Indian Street Food
These are those types of street foods that are sourced from different parts of southern India. Some of them might have improved versions of the same, like adding some extra ingredients to make them tastier.
The Dosas that are prepared everywhere else in the south with the difference in variations in this very place where they promise to serve 99 different varieties of dosas. The variations broadly can be categorized as follows:
- Sada Variety
- Masala Variety
- Sweet Corn Variety
- Special Variety
- Palak Variety
These varieties are in turn prepared using the below additional top-ups.
- Sprint Vegetable
- Sweet Corn
- Pizza Ingredients
- Palak (Spinach)
An item sourced from Bidadi which is a rural part of Bangalore district. This looks like flat conventional idli made with ingredients like rice, urad dal, and Sabudana. They are softer than the conventional idlis and are normally eaten with Chutneys of two kinds.
- Coconut Chutney (Green)
- Tomato Chutney (Red)
National Street Food
Many of the items available across the country are copied, or descendants from different parts of north India (norther to Karnataka), and are available in Bangalore. They are adopted and happily eaten by locals too.
- Kachori from Uttar Pradesh is a spicy snack which is in the shape of a round flattened ball and is a fried item
- Fafda is a Gujarati snack that has been in Bangalore for quite some time. It is fried besan flour with some carom seeds and black pepper
- Dhokla is made with a fermented batter derived from rice and split chickpeas. It can be eaten both at the time of snacks or breakfast and is also from Gujarat
- Dabeli, originating from the Kutch district of Gujarat is a sweet snack consisting of potatoes and a special Dabeli powder. This mixture is added in between the Ladi Pav, which is a burger bun. Chutneys of tamarind and other items are also added along with this
- Fruits Bhel Puri is from Mumbai, which is a mixture of Bhel Puri along with selected fruits.
- Jolada Rotti from the southern part of Maharashtra, adds to the main course meal, which is like Chapati or Phulka prepared using Jowar. There are two versions of this:
- Dry Jowar Roti that can be used for a longer period, and will be hard
- Wet Jowar Roti, which will be soft, but cannot be kept for a longer period
- Pav Bhaji consists of two main items:
- Pav which is a bread
- Bhaji being the stuffing that will be thick, prepared using mashed potatoes, tomatoes, and pav bhaji masala
- Usal is a dish from Maharashtra prepared using different kinds of sprouted beans, with some thick gravy and added mixed vegetables
- Gol Gappa is a kind of Pani puri from the Magadha region, where the word translates to “watery bread” or “crisp sphere eaten.” They are the Pani puris from the place where it started, with the crisp puri added along with the raw materials and of course Pani, the spicy, sour water
- Sabudana (also called as Sago, is a starch extracted from the spongy center, or pith, of various tropical palm stems) Vada, and then deep-fried using some masalas
- Vada Pav is a deep-fried potato inserted in between two buns with some spices and other ingredients for taste
International Street Food
Right from the concept of Bakery, there are a lot of such foods that are now a part of Bangalorean’s routine. Food from outside India has an extremely high demand amongst the youth crowd. This essentially means Bangalore has welcomed all types of food.
This is a part of the Chinese preparations. Street vendors prepare this even more deliciously without using capsicum. Their signature noodles will be spiced up with ginger and green chili sauce. The taste will be heavenly in certain selected places.
Gobi Manchurian has always been a huge hit. This is an Indianized version of the Chinese Manchurian that is fried more than once to make it crispy. There are many other versions like Babycorn, Paneer, Mushroom, Egg, etc. of which Gobi Manchurian is the most famous.
The simplest and easiest food that tastes yummy is an Omelette. This can be prepared anywhere with the utmost taste. In old Bangalore, this is prepared in a few places. Pepper will be added to taste which will be served with ketchup.
The Tibetan delicacy is served in every other part of Bangalore. There are many variations out of which the most famous ones are:
- Mixed Vegetable Momo
- Paneer Momo
- Corn Mom
4. Cheese Finger
These have originated from France somewhere in the 12th century. This is incorporated into Marathi Style food that has eventually migrated to Bangalore.
Samosa is a fried item that is of crescent shape and is stuffed with cooked vegetables like peas, potatoes, onions, and some other spices. The origins of this are the Middle East and Central Asia. The word Samosa originated from Persia, where it used to be called as sanbosag.
6. French Fries
This is a world-famous recipe that is prepared in all parts of the world in the same way. This was one of the first food items to enter into the country and to Bangalore. Now it is prepared in all parts of the city including many streets.
7. American Corn
American corn is now sold in mobile carts. They are sweet and are available in different flavors like butter, salt being the basic.
- Chat Masala
Originated in Seoul, South Korea as a street vendors’ snack, and now truly an international food. It is slowly occupying more number of streets in the city to cater to thousands of fan bases across the city.
After the potato is twisted, there are a lot of spices that can be added as a topping, where, most commonly added topping is Piri Piri.
Being originated from the middle east, this non-veg has many variants and is very popular in selected parts of Bangalore:
- Malai Kebab
- Lhasani Kebab
- Peshawari Kebab
- Sikandari Kebab
- Mutton Seekh Kebab
- Chicken Kalmi Kebab
- Dahi Ke Kebab
Bangalore famous sweets
Chiroti is an old sweet that is deep-fried using Rava. As this and Pheni are both not sweets as is, powdered Sugar is added after these sweets are served and a little hot milk is poured above the powdered Sugar.
Kobbari (Copra) Mithai is made out of Copra (dry coconut). It is mixed with a hot sugar solution (called Sakkare Paaka) to prepare a thick highly viscous layer, which will eventually be added to a plate and cut.
Mysore Pak is an old sweet prepared all over Karnataka using the following ingredients:
- Gram Flour
Chikki, a mixture of heated liquid jaggery and umpteen peanuts will result in the formation of Chikki, and like any other Burfi, it is poured into a container to take the shape of the container when it is hot.
Holige is famous across South India and is called in different names. They also have different variants like:
- Grain Holige
- Coconut Holige
- Dates Holige
- Kova Holige
- Carrot Holige
They are just like Chapatis (an Indian bread that looks like Tortilla), that are sweet due to the addition of jaggery.
Kajjaya is a deep-fried sweet that looks like a doughnut and is mostly offered during prayers. It is made using rice, which will be soaked for a long time, then heated with jaggery and deep-fried until brown, after reasonable fermentation.
Karjikai is a kind of sweet in Karnataka that is also called as Modak in various other places that just looks like momos, with a different sweet stuffing inside. The stuffing inside will mostly be a grated coconut jaggery combination.
Rave Unde, a white-colored ball-shaped sweet that is made out of Rava mixed with milk. Unde is a Kannada name for laddu, which refers to the round shape. Some dry fruits can also be added to add a different taste to it.
Shankar Poli, the diamond-shaped fried sweet that is as crisp as chips, but a little thicker. However, there are several versions of this too. Usually, Maida is mixed with sugar solution, bound and fried until golden brown color.
With such a diversified food culture, Bangalore has paved its way into a cosmopolitan city. With the support of Bangaloreans, a lot has happened right from 1924, when Mavalli Tiffin Rooms was started.