Sudha Chats-Warming Up Winter

After almost two weeks of incessant rain, the city thermostat has dipped to what we Bengalureans might call a deep freeze.  While older residents say this socks and muffler weather reminds them of a time `when we didn’t even have ceiling fans at home’, I tell myself that a cup of hot tea and perhaps a bonda-bhajji or two would be nice. It’s getting chilly.My hands are icy cold as I walk down Berlie Street towards Langford Road.

My wish materializes as I pass a tiny shop off the sidewalk where  J. Satyanarayan sits assembling crisp Masala Vadas and handing them out at dizzying speed. In a matter of seconds, he quarters them deftly with a knife, spoons spicy green chilli and sweet tamarind chutney over them, adds some chopped onions and hands it to an eager customer. Three hungry young men appear.

The family Business

The family Business

“Six Samosas and one Kachori” they say.

“Parcel?”

“No. Right here!”

I watch wide eyed as the Samosas (a deep fried triangular pastry with a savoury potato filling) and Kachori (flattened ball of fried flour) disappear in a gulp. Satyanarayan’s mother Sudha drips more batter into the large Kadhai (wok).The oil sizzles. Smoke rises. The line of regulars gets longer while commuters caught in evening traffic on narrow Berlie Street gaze longingly at the Chole  Chaat. The shop has been a local secret for some time now and faithful customers swear that the Samosa-Kachori is “the best” in the city. And though the name board says `Sudha Chats’, it must be mentioned that there are no regular `chats’  here. No sour yoghurt for the Dahi Puri’s and no soggy Sev.

Samosas and Kachori's

Samosas and Kachori’s

Satyanarayan’s grandfather Patnalal, arrived in Bengaluru with his young son P.Jawaharlal somewhere around when his home town, Satna in Madhya Pradesh became a district in 1948. Coincidentally, Satna was also a British station where Sir Donald Robertson contributed to road laying and pond-tank building from 1884-1894, before becoming Resident at Mysore in the 1900’s, having a road in Bengaluru East named after him (Robertson Road) and a township in Kolar Gold Fields (Robertsonpete). The hydro-electric project at Shivanasamudra was set up during his tenure, and he also sanctioned the All Saint’s Institute in Richmond Town next door. Migrations between British stations was quite common and Patnalal arrived here looking to further his hoteliering ambitions.

IMG_6997

Jawaharlal  oversees every aspect of his business.

P.Jawaharlal grew up and found employment in the hotel business across the city including hotel `Chandra Bhavan’ near their home in Majestic. He eventually acquired the Berlie Street space from a friend in the 1980’s and named Sudha Chats after his wife. The samosas were initially sold at 40 paise and the Uddin Vada at 4 paise. He says that residents in Langford Town took to the samosas slowly. “Many had never tasted them before!” But the deep fried delights including Capsicum Bhajji’s, Batatawada and Mirchi Bhajji as well as their terribly reasonable prices (currently Samosa-Rs.12/-, Vada-Rs.4/-, Plate of Masala Vada-Rs.25 for 6 pcs) soon caught the public eye.

Mixed Bhajji's

Mixed Bhajji’s

On any given evening, you have to elbow your way through the small crowd to where the father and son take orders on the phone, pile super crisp samosas into takeaway paper bags, dish out homemade chutney, sprinkle their special Chaat Masala (a classified combination of eleven spices), shovel more crisp bhajji’s from the kadhai into the trays, chat up customers in Hindustani, Dakhni, Kannada and Tamil simultaneously, coax them to have one more and say “give me money tomorrow!” to those who arrive with empty pockets.  “We come here once a week and call in advance.They keep our order ready” says Hitesh, a banker by day and dedicated samosa-phile by evening. Satyanarayan tells me to be specific about this, so here we go; if you’re short on time, call him and place your order in advance.You just have to come by and pick it up.

On the spot freshness

Is the batter the deal breaker, or the Chaat Masala and Chutney?

Like the coconut chutney can be a deal breaker for an Idli-Dosa, the mithi tamarind chutney and the green chilli chutney here clinch a samosa experience. There’s no soggy stuff here either. Satyanarayan says the family spends all day making fresh batter before opening the shop from 5-9 pm. “There is no special sequence. If it’s not in the tray, we fry whatever a customer wants on the spot.”

Spicy Green Chilli and Sweet Tamarind Chutney

Spicy Green Chilli and Sweet Tamarind Chutney

Each kadhai (and there are two) consumes at least 25 litres of oil a day. The delicacies are topped off with sweet Gulab Jamoons and washed down with Badam (Almond) Milk. I sit down on the bench with a super hot plate of `Mixed Bhajji’s’ and prepare to beat off the winter chill. The signal changes to red. A new line of commuters come to a shivering standstill outside and gaze into the shop longingly.

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Find it at: # 26/3, Berlie Street, Langford Town. Ph: +91 9980348380  Open from 5:00pm-9:00pm Monday-Saturday.Closed on Sundays.

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*If you’re really into it, an average spend would be about Rs.80-100/- per head.

*Add the Special Chaat Masala if you like to ramp up the chilli quotient. There are no conventional `chaat items’ or even though the name says so.Its a traditional North Indian style Pakoda-Samosa-Kachori place.

*Call in for the stuff if you’re having friends over or feeling peckish at sunset.There’s no home delivery, but you won’t have to wait when you get there.

*Parking on Moyenville Road and walking down is a good idea.The road is always blocked with traffic and there is no place to park.

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This story was originally published in the Bangalore Mirror on November 16, 2015.Read it here.

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4 comments

  1. Whoa! Thanks for this post.
    My cab passes pretty close by – Rhenius st-Langford Rd intersection turning right towards SJCC, on days when the traffic is bad on Richmond road.

    Would you know how much ahead of time one needs to call and place order? 15-20 mins is ok? Thanks!

  2. Hi Vaidya! I think 15-20 mns is absolutely ok! I’m also sure Satyanarayan will tell you immediately how long it will take.I suggest calling him one day to tell him what time you will reach there and he will plan accordingly.

  3. Is this story the last you sent ?Today I saw the wordpress page and by mistake I may have touched the entry of “Turquoise cloud” and it disappeared. I do not know how it happenned. I want to revive the entry.

    1. No, it isnt, but I got your re-submission today :-)not sure what happened.

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