Indira Canteens were started by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) in 2017 with the aim of providing affordable, good quality food to citizens across all walks of life. Now, five years later, holding a stark contrast to the state of most such canteens, the Indira Canteen in Dharmarayaswamy temple ward carries forward that objective by dishing out at least 2,500 – 3,000 meals a day to hungry customers. This comes amid lack of adequate funds by the government and alleged poor management
In 2017, selling over 3,000 meals a day, this place held the record for giving out the highest number of meals in a day amongst all the Indira Canteens. Today, it sells 1,350 plates of breakfast, 1,200 plates of lunch and 500 – 600 plates of dinner, according to the cashier at the canteen. He notes that whenever there is idly for breakfast, more people arrive at the canteen. For lunch, most of them prefer white rice and sambar/rasam over other rice forms.
“The most popular combo here is upma and kesari bath. As it tastes very similar to the same dishes prepared in hotels, our customers enjoy it a lot. Here, we do not usually get much feedback about the taste as most of who come here are already hungry and it is their routine to have a meal here. But rarely, some come up and compliment us for the food”, the cashier told The Hindu.
The regulars at the canteen agree. But some of them have their personal favourite dishes. “They make very good pulav here. I have been to several Indira canteens across the city over the years. I have been coming to this branch for 22 days as my mother has been admitted to Victoria Hospital. The food has been consistently tasty”, said Harsha, a BMTC bus driver.
The location of the canteen plays a key role in its success. Situated right inside the K.R. Market bus stop, it is easily accessible to the sellers and vendors at the market, the staff at Victoria and Vani Vilas hospitals, the attendants there, students from nearby educational institutions, bus drivers and conductors and the floating crowd, which is made up of shoppers and tourists. For them, it is the most convenient, affordable option.
“I work at a dry fruit shop inside the market. I have been coming to this canteen for five years and I have no complaints about the food. I eat my breakfast and lunch here at a mere cost of ₹15 everyday”, said Saleem, who was having lunch at the canteen.
For women, the presence of the BBMP marshall in their uniform gives a sense of security to eat here. “I have come here a few times before and today, I am here shopping with my sister. KR Market is a very crowded place, but here we can get at least a small private space where we can eat in peace. Plus, I feel very safe here as it is never empty. It is better than hotels and the quality of food has always been great”, said Preethi, a college student.
The first one
Indira Canteen at Kanakanapalya of Jayanagar in South Bengaluru is the first canteen launched by the government it was inaugurated on August 16 by the then Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and is also seeing a lot of consumers every day.
The Hindu visited the canteen and saw many people having food at the canteen since the food quality is good. “This canteen is seeing a good number of footfalls every day; around 150 to 200 people come here to have food,” a canteen cashier told The Hindu.
But the canteen lacks drinking water facility and has complaints related to hygiene, say customers. “Food quality is very good and it is tasty, but there is an issue of drinking water facilities and also hygiene should improve,” said a cab driver, who has his daily lunch at this canteen.