The morning I re-located to Secunderabad from Bangalore(eight years ago), Our container arrived very late and so, setting up the kitchen was out of question for the next few hours.
We were tired and famished. The closest hotel near my house was an Irani hotel, with kebabs dangling outside. Having come from a vegetarian Brahmin family used to the typical Bangalore darshini’s sandarshini’s, SLV’s & sagar’s I found it difficult to eat anything. Later I went to the Balaji mithai bhandar – a Marwari sweet shop to find if there were any veg hotels nearby. He too had no clues.
Later during our weekend outings we found Veg hotels which were grand in décor , ambience and very expensive. But soon, I chanced upon many Udupi restaurants like udipi tiffins, udipi.com, udipi dosa point etc. The dosas were not like the ones made in Udupi restaurant in Bangalore. Ask my taste buds. They know better. They have tasted the food for more than 30 years in Bangalore.
The restaurant had nothing to do with Udupi , The restaurateur confessed he used the brand name so that people would flock seeing the name. That is the magnetic effect of Udupi cuisine, people simply flock to the hotels on seeing the name. Infact some original udupi restaurants like Dasaprakash, woodlands and Adiga’s don’t prefix the udupi tag.
Udipi is a small temple town in coastal Karnataka. This place is also called Annabrahmakshetra (where food is the religion). Like Thanjavur Brahmins, Tulu Brahmins of Shivalli( a village close by Udupi) treat their food as god. So they prepare the food only after having a bath. Their cuisine is strictly vegetarian and without onions and garlic, very clean and pure. They use vegetables, lentils, dry red Byadgi chillies ( not very spicy) coconuts and fruits like pineapple, apple, banana, jackfruit etc and hence their food is laced with sweetness.
Today one can find Udupi food practically in all corners of the world. They give their branded pizza, burger competitors a run for their money. The Udupi restaurtants are basically owned by Shivalli tulu Brahmins. Their recipes originated in the temple kitchens of the Ashta mathas( Udupi math) and they are passed on generations through word of mouth that explains why it tastes like ‘Ghar Ka Khana’.
No fancy décor, no mood/ candle lights, no fancy porcelain plates but clean ambience , efficient quick service, reasonable prices, yummy, pure home made food away from home all served on clean eco-friendly plaintain leaves/ clean plates. You can bet it is an Udupi hotel.
Personally, I like the pineapple gojju( sweet & sour gravy) , dum root halwa(a sweet made from pumpkin) Masala dosa(though dosa has its origins in Tamilnadu it was popularised by the Udupi restaurants especially the masala dosa) , kara bath and kesaribath with chunks of pineapple( this combo is called chow-chow bath in Bangalore).
We do have the Tulu Brahmins hotel in Secunderabad. They have deviated from their original taste and expanded into the Chinese territory of Manchurian and noodle with upscaled prices.
I also miss the clean darshini’s & sagar’s of Bangalore serving masala dosa ambode, akki roti, bonda soup, shavige uppittu and chow chow bath, bisibele bath and vangi bath. All easy on my pocket and located around the corner.