The idly however remains just the same. As does the hot-and-cold staff who, on a good day will reward you with radiant toothsome smiles, and completely ignore you the next time around. There are several strange things about the store though, which I shall compile into a compendium of coschans below:
Why is it a shop and not a hotel? What sort of shop sells idly anyway? How can pasty idly taste this gorgeous? How on EARTH do they get those vadas like that? Why do BTS buses have a special wail when they brake to a halt at the bottom of the slope in front of the store? Why does the same idli taste silly when parcelled and taken home? What on earth is Brahmi juice and who is going to drink it when they can have wonderful filter coffee?
To all these I have only one answer: Mwah.
Veena stores, 15th cross, Margosa Rd, Malleswaram.
Needless to say, the idly vada only whetted my appetite, so I waddled over to TRFACTR (The Restaurant Formerly Known as CTR), who are planning on changing their name officially to a heiroglyph of a benne masale stuffed with a goli bajji. Another slew of questions hit me instantly:
Why bother changing the name of a restaurant when nobody cares? How in the name of all things heavenly do they get their benne masale like that? Why don't they hand out xeroxes of the coffee maker's foot for daily worship? Has anyone benefitted from the poster of wise sayings installed on the wall in 1753? Has anyone cleaned this poster since 1753? Can I please sit in the family room? Hello table-sharer, which cross and main are you from?
And to all these questions is another simple answer: Silence.
Just eat your dosa, do not talk. Central Tiffin Rooms (aka Shree Sagar, 6th Cross, Margosa Rd)
Terribly satisfied and strangely unable to move, I decided to roll down the rest of Margosa Road, crash into the flyover-in-progress and worm my way over the debris to Bhagyalakshmi Butter Gulkand store.
Established in the latter half of the jurassic period, they have successfully evolved their menu to support 4 items: (a) Butter (b) Gulkand (c) Butter Gulkand (d) Special Butter Gulkand.
Apparently there are 7 people in Malleswaram who actually buy items (a) and (b). As for me and several other people who like the feeling of being gobsmacked with an industrial strength sugarbuzz, (d) is the perfect choice. To make it, take a plastic sheet, slather on a years supply of homemade butter, add three spoons of gulkand (rose petal preserves) , top up with tutti frooti and sweetened banana.
I ate four spoons of the good stuff, whirled around 5th cross screaming "Sugarbuzz.. sugarbuzz.." and miraculously found myself at 8th cross. Walked into Janatha Hotel, once famed for its sweet sambhar and monster-sized vadas. Still lovely, but considerably less crowded. I think it's because people can't spot it after the strange Palm-Like Dracaena tree in its mini courtyard got walled in.
The vada in my stomach assisted greatly in rolling me down to Asha Sweet centre (8th Cross, Sampige Rd). After loading up on basundi and badami haalu, yodelling Bantu reethi kolu 28 times, whirling around 8th cross and collapsing in a dead faint, I decided to document the remaining Malleswaram restaurants, food shops and wannabes of note below. Kindly do the needful and oblige.
(y) Rajanna's chaat, 8th cross, 5th main. Easily identified by a stertorous "Kotte shiva, kotte!" emanating from a buzz of humanity surrounding a chaat trolley.
(e) Villa Pottipatti, opp Rajanna. Beautifully restored Malleswaram Bungalow, now a Neemrana hotel. They have a french restaurant that you have to call ahead to reserve. Whatever!
(n)New Krishna Bhavan, 3rd Cross, Sampige Rd. Nice, but fairly average always-been-there joint. South Indian Naarth Indian Mini meals type place with an ok-ish speciality restaurant called Gopika.
(r) The Basil, 3rd cross, Sampige Rd. Hmm. Sorry you cant be called that in Malleswaram.
(i) Cafe Coffee day, 13th cross Sampige Rd and 18th Cross 8th main. Eh, you know the deal.
(s)Om shakthi Mess 2nd Cross, Sampige Rd. Palakkad aakum. Their rice servings come on a side plate covered with a layer of rice exactly one grain thick. Fantastic. Oda-oda resaththa vittu aathula panna chorum koottaanum kuduppaalaakkum. Enna, manassilaacho dee?
(w) Shenoy Stores: 8th Cross Margosa Rd. Chakli, nippat, thindi.. y'know... Not my favourite to be honest.
(a) Sri krishna Sweets: A recent entrant into Malleswaram from Tamil Nadu, they haven't bothered changing the spelling of their speciality sweet from its Tamilized version : "Mysurpa". A bit overrated, though their freebies are fun.
(m) Iyengar bakery, Vyalikaval main rd. Lovely benne biscuit, baked nippat and sponge cake. Good stuff. Try maadi nodi.
(i)Butter sponge: An offshoot of the Basavangudi version. Not really great, though their speciality sponge cake: Butter Sponge, is rather nice in an eggless, chavukku-chavukku sort of way.
(a) Amrit Nice Creams 11th Cross, 7th main. Uyyo what a lovely. Run by nice Melkote Iyengar mama and husky voiced mami. Home made vanilla, pyoor saffran and manoranjani ice creams served vith or vithout vooden spoons. Warning: Since the ice creams are made with milk without mixing in lard, they have a distinct paal vaasne (milky smell).
(r) Love Luck stores: 12th cross, Sampige Rd. Well if they can survive with a name like that in the 2000s they've got to be old as the hills. Chutney pudis, pickles, condiments and the like. Good stuff.
(a) HaLLi mane: 4th Cross, Sampige Rd. A faux village restaurant. This newish entrant has gained insane popularity among the locals, and blends right into the food scene in conservative Malleswaram. Skip the North Indian Thali and try out the local specialities: Ragi and akki rotti, ragi mudde, cocum saaru etc. Quite nice.
(ma) Sri Rama Coffee Works: 9th Cross, Sampige Rd. Good old fashioned coffee powder shop. They also sell something called Mammary tea, which I havent had the courage to ask them about. Mumsy has developed a unique communication system with the shop lady. She'll pull up silently by the kerb and pretend to ignore her. The shopkeeper will scoop our weekly quota of filter coffee powder straight from the grinder into a packet and hand it over to her silently with a 10 rupee note. Mother will make blank calls to random people to pretend she is busy and wordlessly hand over Rs 100 and drive off. Strangely though, you can't tear them apart when they meet each other in different circumstances, such as in the 12th cross market or at an oxygen bar.
Acknowledgements: Veena store and CTR pics from the lovely blog of Bellurramki.