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For authentic North Karnataka fare



Spicy meals that have you craving for more.

ADMITTEDLY, YOU would find it hard to locate a parking space in the teeming Gandhinagar area where Kamat Yatri Nivas, a modern budget hotel is located. They have several restaurants: Punjabi, Chinese, idli-vadas etc., but one must try the authentic North Karnataka cuisine that they offer on the fourth floor, which you reach by a lift.

It is on a terrace that accommodates 60, and during rush hours, more are welcome in the open air section. On view from the big windows are the tops of trees that sway in the wind. The airy, bright feel, with no-nonsense furniture is devoid of fuss — so much so, that this eatery has no name at all! It is simply called jolada rotti oota, served on banana leaf.

The waiters come one by one, as though they are on a decorating spree of your banana leaf. First a pinch of salt in one corner, and some raw onion. Then a sliver of lime. Red hot garlic chutney follows — the kind that has to be mixed with curds in order to be able to withstand the chillies. The series of colours on one's green banana leaf continues with the dollop of butter, meant to be spread on the rotte. The pachadi — which is a raita of tomato and onion in thin curds — and a bowl of dahi are added on, while the buttermilk served is garnished with ginger, salt, and curry leaves. One can nibble at the roasted papad in the meantime, awaiting the main courses.

Soppina palya, a lentil dish is the standard, but each day, methi, palak, or some other soppu (gres mixed with a different dal. There would also be kaalina palya, a curry made of pulses. Then comes the highlight of the menu, the yennegai— a curry made of small, tender brinjals in a thick gravy. Then one has to wait for the rotti to arrive to begin on that colourful spread.

The surprise is that the jolada rotti comes thin, even fluffy. While one associates jowar, an inexpensive coarse grain, with a rural meal of thick roti, this one is light as feather... and large in diameter. It would be too hot to touch to begin with. Tuck in and you would be delighted that oil is used sparingly in all the items. The flavours are rustic, and unforgettable.

The meals are all-you-can-eat type, so the rottis etc. would keep coming till you call halt. The standard meal costs Rs. 60 inclusive of tax, and the next stage is with rice. Upon that is ladled kolambo, a spicy-sour sambar full of veggies and especially two inch long pieces of drumsticks that are popular in the coastal region. The flavour of kolambo is quite distinct from the usual sambar one gets.

The standard meal ends with a banana and paan (made in the south Indian style without katha).

If you opt for the special meal (Rs. 90), you get all of the above plus a chetamboda, Bengali milk sweet, and some fruit salad with ice cream.

This is a place that is affordable, goes easy on the use of oil, and the regulars are witness to the fact that it is absolutely authentic. The Kamats have been hoteliers for decades, and deserve to be congratulated for what they offer here.

Jolada Rotti, Kamat Yatri Nivas, No.4, First Cross, Gandhinagar, Bangalore.

Phone numbers: 2260088, 2263737.

ARUN BHATIA

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