Naati Manae in Koramangala: Cuisine of Karnataka

Naati Manae in Koramangala

Naati Manae's rustic theme

Once in a way, a dining experience makes an impression. If you are well-traveled and eat out more often than not, that kind of experience becomes especially elusive. That’s why I am happy to report that I recently discovered an experience of that sort – pretty much on my own doorstep. It’s called Naati Manae (naati = rustic/country-style; manae = house), serves only typical Karnataka cuisine, and (this was a surprise) as of now, only non-vegetarian dishes. K. Girish and B. Ravi Shankar, Koramangala-based friends and real estate developers, got so tired of having to schlep off to Cubbonpet or Malleswaram every time they needed a fix of honest-to-goodness local oota (meal) that they decided to go the DIY route. The result is an unpretentious little eatery that dishes out specialties like raagi mudde (raagi = finger millet; mudde = balls), donne biriyani (biriyani served in a cup made of dry leaves), naati koli saaru (naati koli = free range chicken; saaru = a thin, soupy curry), and more. Disclaimer: In a break with my standard policy, I have only dined at this restaurant ONCE. It was good enough to share.

…Keep reading

Wild Spice: Pandi Curry and More

Wild Spice: A taste of Coorg

Wild Spice: A taste of Coorg

Call a native of Coorg a “Coorgi” and you’re asking for trouble. “I’m Kodava”, you’ll be told haughtily, “or, if you must, a Coorg. There’s no such thing as a ‘Coorgi’.” Make the same mistake twice, and you’ll be excommunicated from the Kodava party schedule for life – and that, my friend, is a hard-drinking, heavy-eating scene you really do not want to miss for anything in the world.

Yet an inconspicuous little eatery on the junction of Museum Road and Residency Road proudly proclaims that it serves “Authentic Coorgi Restaurant.” Far from having the place shut down, Kodavas actually recommend it. If, that is, you are particularly skilled at extracting information in, ahem, somewhat unconventional ways (think Hitler’s storm troopers). Keep reading…

Bon Appetit at bon South

South Indian fine dining in Koramangala

South Indian fine dining in Koramangala

I finally made it to bon South for lunch this afternoon. On entering, my first impression is that it’s small and intimate. I’m wrong about the “small” and right about the “intimate”. As you enter, a foyer separates two modest and tastefully designed dining areas. The one on the right contains the buffet island, so if you like being seated close to the food, head there; the one on the left is a little quieter, but you have to head across the foyer each time you want to refill your plate. Not a problem, just a piece of information. An elevator leads to the upper floor, where there’s a live appam counter, indoor and terrace dining areas, a small and well-stocked bar, and a private dining room. All told, the restaurant can seat a total of 165 people. Keep reading…

South Indies

Overcoming my customary disdain of vegetarian food, I agreed to meet Chef Venkatesh Bhat for lunch at South Indies, a restaurant that is his personal ode to South Indian vegetarian cuisine. I warn him over the phone that I don’t really care for veggies; he feigns distress, but promises (like a zillion worthies before him) to change my mind.

I walk into the restaurant at 1.30pm, to find it packed to the gills with lunching professionals and a couple of families. I stride smugly past the people waiting patiently on the wooden benches in the outdoor courtyard and ask to meet the chef. Barely a minute later, a man wearing a loose cotton shirt and trousers approaches me inquiringly. “Full restaurant, busy afternoon. No toque. No white coat. Can’t be the chef,” I think. “Wonder what he wants?”

“Hi, I’m Venkatesh,” he says. “Welcome.” Keep reading…