Nagarthpete-Another food street

I trot purposefully from the busy Chickpete-Doddapete junction on Avenue Road down towards Nagarthpete,  following the path taken by one of four legendary bulls that were let loose here by Kempegowda I, the 16th century founder of Bangalore. It would have pounded furiously down this road centuries ago, heading, like the others, in the cardinal directions to mark the boundaries of his new settlement. My route is the same, but the agenda is different.

By day, Nagarthpete is a congested market area selling metal and household goods, silver jewellery, beads, baubles and whatnot. But at sunset its non-existent sidewalks compete fiercely with the iconic Thindi Beedi or food street in VV Puram. Old timers say this was the original Food Street way before VV Puram hotted up. Back in the 80’s when partygoers in Bangalore had no bedtime, this is where cars would roll up and smart girls in stilettos would pop out to eat dosa-chutney at 2am. The quiet street would be filled with nonchalant young people in partywear,hanging out as they waited for their order to arrive. It was the ultimate after-party place.

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I kick up my heels and head towards the carts where dosas sizzle, idlis steam and waterfalls of badam milk are sold by lamplight. If you can stomach the street, this is your place. There is always a crowd encircling Nagaraj’s hand cart outside the Neela Complex. He serves feather soft idlis, plain, masala and onion dosas. But his red podi dosa and spicy coconut chutney get my nostrils flaring with delight. The chutney is ground with green chillies, mint and coriander and always brings the dosa to life. The vote is split when his right hand man Dasarath Rao produces a podi rice bhaath wrapped in a donne (leaf). He also insists I try their speciality, the Magic Dosa, a special onion and podi dosa pairing. Top Chef Masters 2011 winner Floyd Cardoz may have taken home $100,000 thanks to our local uppittu, but he ain’t seen nothing yet. Mani’s cart nearbycooks up a tangy chitranna (lemon rice). It is also daubed onto crisp dosas with a dollop of potato palya for his masterpiece, the `bhaath dosa’.

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Temple bells ring at the Annapoornamba Temple. I wonder if her presence on this street is intentional. She is an incarnation of Goddess Parvati who nourishes all life on earth.The word ‘Anna’ literally means `grain’ and ‘purna’ means full or complete in Sanskrit. It is therefore believed that worshipping her ensures you will never be out of nourishment (both literal and metaphysical), at any point in your life. She is usually depicted with a jewelled vessel containing food in one hand and a spoon in the other.

I paw the ground impatiently near the fafda laden counter at Annapoorna Sweets and `Chats’ while a deadpan Sunil slowly ladles a sweet tamarind chutney over crisp little spinach bhajjis. He then produces a pair of oversized scissors, ignores my astonished expression and carefully cuts the kachori into bits. He then sprinkles it over the plate. The `Kati’ Kachori, best expressed in our local lingo, is totally bombat!

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Mahaveer Sweets is where one stops to drown taste buds in creamy kesar flavoured lassi. Though completely stuffed, I also manage a snort of approval for Murugan’s badam milk.It bubbles enticingly with powdered almonds and cardamom in a 3’ diameter pan that is as wide as his smile. It is located opposite the old Wooltex building typical of the vertical `live-work’ spaces built by local Marwari trading communities. Narrow stairs connect the shop to three floors of storage areas above where low ceilings rest on wooden beams. City chronicler TV Annaswamy writes that Kempegowda’s Doddapete ran right through Nagarthpete which was once  occupied by the Chowdeshwari worshiping Togata and Devanga weavers, and the Nagarta traders whose guardian deity was `Nagesvara’ or Shiva.

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My boundary point finally arrives with the multi-layered, mint chutney and chaat masala filled Bombay Sandwich. It is why I bullishly ignore the little lane near the Dharmarayaswamy Temple where the Kolkata Mess offers hybrid Bengali street food by dusk and meals by day. I have quite literally, reached the end of the road.

“There are different compartments in my stomach” a friend once said as she enthusiastically tucked into mounds of vanilla ice cream after a hearty meal. “There are some for starters, one for the main course and many little ones reserved for dessert”.  I stagger satiated out of Nagarthpete and realise that I have successfully filled each and every one of them.

Find it at: Nagarthpete Main Road. Enter from Avenue Road- Chickpete Circle. No parking. Cash only. After 6pm on all days.

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Originally published in the Bangalore Mirror on April 21, 2014. Read it here

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5 comments

  1. Bangaloregirl, I loved your blog. I loved the analogy you made in the beginning about deciding borders of the city. I also loved the street food photographs you have shared. Hope to read more posts by you. Thanks for sharing this post.

    1. Hey Ayushi! Thanks for reading and writing in.Lets hope you’re eating your way down Nagarthpete as I write this!

  2. Aliyeh.. fantastic round-up of Nagarthpete. I chronicled VVPuram, Shivajinagar and Johnson Market so far on my blog as far as street fare goes. This was next on my list and your experience will be of great help

    1. Hi Ruth, have you been to the food street in Rajajinagar?

  3. Hi Bangaloregirl, I was trying to get the location for Nagaraj’s hand cart. Thanks to you, I can plan now to visit the place and taste the idli’s served. I got to know it is the best in Bangalore.

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