Rural flavour for the urban palate

Food like mother makes — Photos: K. Bhagya Prakash

Food like mother makes — Photos: K. Bhagya Prakash  

KARNATAKA CUISINE rarely finds a place in Bangalore's eating places except for the occasional offering of ragi balls. But mudd� is not the only food that characterises our State. Just travel to our villages and you'll find dishes distinctive of each region, even each district. Halliman� in Malleswaram is a restaurant that brings to Bangaloreans the flavour of rural Karnataka.

Halliman�, inaugurated this June by no less a person that U.R. Ananthamurthy, is the brainwave of Srinivas Rao and R. Prabhakar Rao, whose previous successful ventures have been Upahara Darshini (the very first Darshini restaurant in the City) in Basavanagudi, and Dos� Camp in Jayanagar.

Built on the site of the old Planters' Caf� on 3rd Cross, off Sampige Road, the classic carved pillars and tiled roof set it apart from the other buildings in the area.

In summer, the place is kept cool with sprinklers that "rain" on the roof from all corners. Inside, the cheerful d�cor (designed by Mistry's), greenery, and airy spaces avert congestion.

Upstairs, a separate doorway leads into a large sit-out that has been christened Chintakara Chavadi by Mr. Ananthamurthy. Nobody will give you dirty looks if you're voicing your existential agonies over an akki roti at the Chavadi. Moreover, this restaurant has none of the stuffiness that results from accommodating 300 people at a time. Around 4,000 to 5,000 people come here everyday, and Sundays are particularly crowded.

There are two good reasons why people flock here — a menu that includes unusual items, and prices that are hard to beat. You can have breakfast here for under Rs. 10, whether you choose Mysore idli, mallige idli, kadubu, pathrod�, or any of the 16 varieties of dos� (including those made with cucumber and green gram). Where else would you get ragi mudd� along with saaru made of soppu, or hesarukalu (green gram), or kadalekalu (Bengal gram), for Rs. 5? Or fried rice made with basmati rice, or two rotis and dal, for Rs. 12? If your appetite matches that of your halli ancestors, you might be able to finish the Rs. 50 (for adults, Rs. 25 for children) Indian Buffet for lunch or dinner.

It comprises limited soup, sweet and icecream, and unlimited quantities of fried rice, plain rice, roti/naan/kulcha, dal, rasam, two kinds of vegetable curry, green salad, pickle, and papad.

Rural flavour for the urban palate

To ensure a smooth flow of customers, there are separate ticket counters for beverages, dose, roti, meals, and so on, and certain items are available only at fixed times.

For example, the dos� counter is open between 7.30 a.m. (when the restaurant opens) and noon, and from 4 p.m. to 10.30 p.m. (closing time). The roti counter, which includes ragi roti and akki roti, is open between 10.30 a.m. and 3.30 p.m. and from 5.30 p.m. till closing time. Basic meals are available for Rs. 10 between noon and 3.30 p.m., and comprise rice, two kinds of chutney, sambar, rasam, majjig�, masala vad�, and pickle.

The most unique item on the menu is a drink called thampu pani. This cooling drink is made from ragi, green gram, and gas�-gas� (khus-khus or poppy seed) sweetened with jaggery. This is a summer drink and true to tradition Halliman� does not serve it in winter. However, you can console yourself with specialty sweets such as the delicious halubai, besides kajjaya and holig� (with both coconut and bel� fillings).

For fear that the food might pall on regular customers, a different kind of payasa is served on different days of the week, and lunchtime curries are not served for dinner.

To top it all, the service is excellent, backed by a courteous staff. The enterprising Prabhakar Rao is opening restaurants in London, Singapore, and Chikmagalur soon.

Halliman� can be contacted on 3469797.


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