Combine a history lesson with no-nonsense street food for a unique experience
The OotaWalks was born out of Simi Reuben and Shibaji Ghosh’s need to connect with the city’s foodscape after relocating to Bangalore less than two decades ago.
“I grew up in Libya and moved to Kerala at 16, yet felt like an outsider in both places. But after shifting to Bangalore, I felt totally accepted and it was like I was home for good. However, I always wanted a deeper connection with the city as did my good friend Shibaji. We came up with the idea of Oota Walks, and were convinced it was the best way to establish that connection,” explains Reuben. And we couldn’t agree more.
With over 20 successful walks since they started a few months ago, and considering the spots get fully booked quickly, they’ve definitely struck a chord with their unique concept. Combining a food trail with a brief history of each place, the duo put in a lot of research before they finalise the route they are going to take. “For example, for the Ramzan walk, our recce took a total of six days. We sampled food from every stall before zeroing in on the best place to stop for a haleem, samosa or phirni,” reveals Reuben. But what if they can’t decide which dish is better? “In that case, we will include both places in our itinerary,” she laughs, adding, “Food lovers make no compromise when it comes to food.”
Currently, Oota Walks does a total of ten different trails, covering Basavanagudi, Malleswaram, Johnson Market, Russel Market, Cubbonpet, Cottonpet, Nagarpet, the general Pete area, Whitefield and Fraser Town.
Reuben feels the Pete walks are the best and she cites the SGR Military hotel as one of the best kept culinary secrets in the city “People line up as early as 6.30 am for their mutton and chicken donne biriyanis and by 7.30 am, it’s all sold out. The history behind the place is that it was one of the very few places serving non-vegetarian food after a plague hit Bangalore in 1893. Since it forced the womenfolk and kids to return to their native villages for safety, leaving the working men behind, they would get their non-veg fix from restaurants like SGR,” she explains. The area is also known for its ghee idlis and dosas that are served with mutton and chicken curry as opposed to the staple chutney and sambar.
Costing anywhere between Rs. 700 and Rs. 1,000, participants are given a thoughtful little cotton goodie bag, sourced from NGOs. The bags hold handy containers (to pack leftovers for consumption later), cutlery, paper napkins and a bottle of water to make their food trail experience a little easier.