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A 'khanavali' in our metropolis

ETHNIC CUISINE seems to be the new buzz word, with restaurateurs enticing diners with a great variety - coastal, Coorgi, Rajasthani, and what have you. It is a pleasure to explore Kollapuri's in this scenario, noting particularly that this restaurant's name has no "h" in its spelling... a fact which points to this specialty food's ethnicity.

The fare at Kollapuri's - billed as "exclusive Savji's" - is according to the tradition of the Savji community.

They were originally Maharashtrian, speaking Savji, a dialect of Marathi.

They usually have first names that have a suffix of "sa" - as in Dhondusa - and the most well-known among them in our City are the distillery owners, Khodays. In fact, this five-month old eatery, in Jayanagar 4th Block, was inaugurated by one of the Khodays. It caters chiefly to non-vegetarian.

Savji food is essentially what can be called "home style", and Kollapuri's here is particularly unusual because one does not get such food in a restaurant setting, other than in Bangalore.

This variety of food is available usually in North Karnataka towns such as Hubli, Haveri, Davangere, Kolhapur, Belgaum, and Dharwad, at what are popularly called khanavalis (eateries).

In Savji homes, in towns such as these, people can come straight to the kitchen, sit on the floor, and partake of the food prepared.

Only a very modest charge is expected for this comfort.

In keeping with this "home food" tradition, the owners of Kollapuri's prepare the spices, masalas, and gravies at their homes, bring them to the Jayanagar restaurant, and later cook a dish based on the order placed by a diner.

The menu, an extensive one, includes food preparations such as pulav, gravy, starters, tandoor, sea food, egg, and rice.

For vegetarians, who may stray to this essentially non-vegetarian outlet, there are about a dozen food items to choose from.

The prices are a delight as most of the major dishes cost between Rs. 12 and Rs. 53.

The only item that goes above this price range is the full tandoori chicken, at Rs. 148.One can begin a Savji adventure in little steel thalis, and katoris with starters. Choose from kheema bhunka unda (egg with kheema stuffing), or pudhina chicken. Their French chicken is called "French" because it comes from the slivers of chicken resembling potato French fries.

The mutton chop dry, mutton kalimirchi, and chicken raja are all prepared in the Savji tradition. One learns here that what they call chicken manchoorian is not really manchoorian, but is prepared with Savji spicing. The co-owner, Arun, says that as manchoorian is very popular in the City, he wanted to ride on that.

Their tandoori kabab, malai kabab, kalmi kabab, and their prawn, fish, and egg dishes are all prepared in the Savji tradition. On Sundays, they have specials, and one among them is the bunjel kukdi. This is a roasted chicken dish with spices used to the minimum, to let the original chicken flavour come through. It virtually melts in the mouth.

On Sundays, they may serve naati chicken kadan, or sholay kabab, dry and delightful. A surprise is the mushroom kabab, meant for vegetarians — a scrumptious item, soft inside, and crisp outside.

Their paneer manchoorian, though carrying a Chinese nomenclature, is really in their ethnic tradition, and is recommended. Their bhakri (a thick millet chapati), and edme (a non-sweet, obbattu-like bread item) are served hot to touch. Kollapuri's does not offer any sweet dish.

This khanavali-style place has been around for 12 years now at the Corporation Building in Gandhi Bazaar, and is one of the best in speciality, ethnic cuisine. The Jayanagar outlet is their second in the City and is guaranteed to attract more customers.

One can get to Kollapuri's at 429/31, 30th Cross, Jayanagar 4th Block. The restaurant can be contacted on 6535207.

ARUN BHATIA

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