The month of Ramadan is here, bringing in its wake a culinary prism to capture the delights of Islamic cuisine. Our experts give us tips on the best flavours of the season
Ramadan in Bangalore is an incredibly social time for most everyone. The month-long period of fasting and feasting is marked by meals rich with tradition. Euphoric iftars (sunset meals that break the fast) and late-night suhoors (the pre-dawn meal) culminating in a three-day blitzkrieg of eating and more socialising to mark the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr.
As foodies set out on the iftar trail armed with big appetites and a sense of adventure, we tell you where some of the best haleem, spicy kheema samosas, juicy seekh kebabs, fragrant biriyani and creamy rich shahi tukda, is available. And a lot more besides.
A long time resident of the area and a hands-on expert in Islamic cuisine, Saad Anees knows his marg (a lamb soup) from his patthar gosht and his kothu paratha from his anda roti. He can guide you through the bewildering array of heaping dishes of succulent kebabs and flaky breads with the right mix of anecdotes and insider information.
Feast on the street
“While Shivajinagar may be one of the oldest iftar food hubs, MM Road in Fraser Town is your best bet for variety and flavour. Speciality cooks from Hyderabad arrive here in sizable numbers to set up stalls along with the locals in the makeshift food courts that spring up overnight. So get here early, around 5 pm, to beat the rush which turns quite manic around 6 pm,” says Anees.
Platters of iddiappam and quail, lukhmis – feather light pastries filled with beef, mutton or chicken to take away, meltingly soft shammi kebabs and skewers of fish, chicken or lamb, either grilled or tossed in crumbs and deep-fried.
Done with the food courts? Head to Chichabas, an offshoot of the iconic Taj Hotel in Shivajinagar where the grilling and cooking stations outside are a revelation. The choices here range from juicy sheek kebabs, crisp onion or mutton samosas, bowls of haleem, patthar gosht sizzling on stone slabs (thin slices of lamb in a green chilli and pepper marinade), bowls of marg, mildly-seasoned mutton broth with pieces of tender meat served with a special flat bread that is meant to be crumbled into the soup, then eaten.
Not for the faint-hearted but quite delicious are bowls of spicy jigri — a dish made of ‘spare parts’ (brain, liver, sweetbreads, kidneys). Wind up with a glass of falooda from Bombay Chowpatty Kulfi and a steaming mug of suleimani tea from Taj Tea House.
He also curates iftar trails. Details: 9886067744
Aslam Gafoor |GM, marketing, Weber Grills India
I head to MM Street or Shivajinagar for my fix of triangular chopped onion samosas, baida roti, a tava fried roomali stuffed with a beaten mixture of egg, kheema, onions and spices – sinful but a sheer delight, and slivers of barbecued camel meat that you get only during this time of year. I suggest you wash them down with hareera, a hot drink made from milk slow-cooked over several hours along with dry fruits and saffron – wholesome and healthy. And there always is the all-time favourite, haleem, patthar ghosht and Bombay Special Tea. I don’t have any particular favourite spot – I just trawl the streets sampling what ever catches my fancy.
Melissa Arulappan |Corporate communication professional
Each year I find newer stalls and a larger variety on offer at MM Road. But my eternal favourites are Albert Bakery for their khova naans and SR bakery bheja puffs (the latter is a Ramzan only feature). Chichabas for their mutton samosas, patthar ka gosht near Kabbabish, haleem which is an all time favourite…although Pista House is known for their haleem, there are other stalls that are tastier.