One of the most funnest [sic] activities, my friends and I in Bangalore always enjoyed was eating out. Bangalore is home to some of the best restaurants I have been to, and unfortunately for our meagre income, the most expensive food on an average. So, those places in the niches of Bangalore, which serve really great food, and yet surprisingly cheap, should be publicised as much as possible. And that is what I intend to do in this post.
For almost an entire year, Sambit, my neighbour in J-Block had been telling us about his haunts in Bangalore, and one name that kept cropping up was Bangliana, a small Bengali restaurant in the by-lanes of Koramangala, run by a Bengali family. So one balmy Saturday afternoon, when I had absolutely nothing else to do, I decided to go there for some culinary adventure with him.
On the way there, Sambit kept on telling me that one shouldn’t be put off the by decor, since it is exactly done like a ghar ka atmosphere (homely atmosphere). It is not like the run-of-the-mill cheap rip-offs that you find dime-a-dozen on Bangalore’s streets which try to come off as posh places, and do a very miserable job of it. In fact it is the very opposite. They have got mismatched chairs, rickety tables, no cutlery, faded plates, water in old beverage bottles… just like what you would get at home 🙂 It does seem a bit odd, but you soon get used to it. And the food much more than makes up for it.
We decided to check out the buffet, and the first thing that appealed to me was the price: Wonly Rs. 180. 🙂 And the fare was atleast worth twice the amount that we paid, atleast that’s what you would have paid in other restaurants that I have been in Bangalore.
That afternoon, they had a sweet-ish pulao with cashew nuts, and raisins, a chicken curry, a fish curry, a fish-head curry, brinjal fry, a vegetable curry (which I had to leave on the plate unfortunately, because I was so stuffed.), and a mustard fish steamed in banana leaf. And as if this was not enough, Sambit ordered some mutton curry from the menu, which was amazing. Sambit did grumble midway about puris (or loochies as they are better known in this part of the country) not being available, and the gravy of the mutton curry being thin. But for me, boy oh boy, it was paradise revisited!
The fish-head curry was a new dish for me: they had crushed rohu (a common river fish) head and mixed it into a curry, so that the curry was mostly bone and shell, interspersed with something that looked like crab meat. Yum yum…though you had to eat like a minefield, being careful you don’t ingest a piece of bone. While we were loading our plates, the guy behind the food table asked me whether I had had it before. I lied, nodding my head vigorously, dropping a few confident “Of course!”s, scared that he wouldn’t give me any… imagining it was reserved for a particular cult only 🙂
The mustard fish was divine, though I had a little trouble unwrapping it, probably because I was newbie. It was made like any other mustard fish, but it tasted much better than the only other mustard fish that I had at 36, Ballygunge Place at Indiranagar. It might have been the halo effect, but it was pretty good then.
Of course, we went for seconds. 🙂
To finish it off, we had malpue, which was the dessert with the buffet and we had ordered a cup of mishti doi each. We were stuffed to the brim, but we couldn’t miss these.
We ate the entire lunch with our fingers, and so did the rest of the customers there, bilkul ghar ke jaisa. I was sceptical about the ghar ke jaisa factor before, but it was creepy the way the waiter brought me plastic glasses, just when I was feeling thirsty. Almost telepathic even. Bilkul ghar ke jaise. 🙂
What delighted me more about this place is that it actually made me wish I knew Bengali. They had recently started these evenings where they would screen classic Bengali movies, and serve their fare alongside, which I think is an amazing concept, because as an MBA now, I can appreciate what a great loyalty-building idea this is. I am sure they run to full capacity almost every time they run movies. It would definitely work with the Mallu crowd in Bangalore, if one were to screen Mallu movies and give Mallu food :).
Bangliana is in Koramangala, just off the road on where Raheja Arcade, Baskin Robbins and the new ice-cream parlour, Cream and Fudge (or something like that.). It is opposite the HDFC ATM on the other side of the road, in the lane behind the Corner House there. You could miss it easily, so lookout for the Friends restaurant, and it’s right beside it. Definitely a must-try for hard-core foodies in Bangalore.
(PS: Sambit also recommended Friend’s restaurant as a cheap restaurant for continental fare, popular with students.)