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It's hot, it's vada-pav!


IF PEOPLE wonder how a typical Mumbaikar can pack in so much into his day, the secret surely must lie in the ubiquitous vada-pav. A spicy hot potato bonda (batata vada, in Marathi), flattened expertly, and stuffed inside a square bun (pav), lined with a stinging hot spice mix, constitutes this Maharashtrian version of the sandwich. Eaten with or without a sweet and sour sauce, it has all the ingredients that your nutritionist recommends.

"When we came to Bangalore from Pune, we found no one served anything even remotely like Maharashtrian food," says U. Dhananjay, who set up Rajvardhan Foods five years ago at Jayanagar 9th Block. "We make parathas and other wholesome Maharashtrain fare the way they are made in our homes. No artificial flavours and colours, and no tampering with the recipes. My wife, Madhuri, mixes the ingredients in exactly the same proportion laid out by traditional Maharashtrians and our trained cooks make the dishes," he explains. A small standing hotel with an open kitchen like in any SLV or Darshini in the City, Rajvardhan Foods offers good vegetarian food. The Maharashtrian fare includes parathas of different kinds — onion cheese, alu, gobi, methi, palak, and cabbage — stuffed or plain. Teamed with pickles and fresh curds, they guarantee your return here for more. There is also sabudana vada, misal pav, tarri-vada pav, batata vada, and sabudana kichdi. The last is the standard upavas fare, eaten during fasting. Pearly sabbakki, soaked overnight and stir-fried with minimum spice and mixed with a handful of roasted and coarsely crushed groundnuts, is just the right low-cal food for special days.

Also on the menu is dabeli, Gujarat's answer to the Earl of Sandwich's discovery. "A vegetable curry along with groundnuts and pomegranate is stuffed inside a pav and toasted on both sides on a hot tava," explains Dhananjay. He also offers channa batura, Delhi-style. "Since my father was in defence, I spent a lot of time in Delhi. Most of the channa batura made in Bangalore tastes nothing at all like the ones served there."

The thalipeeth, authentic Maharashtrian bread, made of at least 10 ingredients such as rice, wheat, jowar, and pulses, is priced at Rs. 21. Unlike the North Karnataka jolada roti that is thin, the Maharashtrian bhakhari is thick and tastes excellent with the spicy brinjal curry. This dish and the channa batura top the prices at Rs. 25. The Bombay vada-pav sets your tongue on fire for just Rs. 7. The rest come between these. All the dishes come with fried green chillies. The place has just stopped offering aamras-puri, hand-pureed mangoes with puris, and sadly offers no other sweet-dish, not even the famous Maharashtrian sreekhand.


The lassi here is good, with no sugar, salt, and spice. "Our way of making curd gives the lassi its taste. Cow's milk is boiled till it reduces to half the volume and then set. The curd is hand-churned and kept in the fridge. We do not add ice and make the lassi frothy by using an electric mixie."

"I know we could make money by adding idli-vada-sambar, but I wanted a place that would offer economical, traditional, tasty Maharashtrian food, and I want to maintain things that way," Dhananjay adds. He and Madhuri are happy when customers come up to this eatery on the road diagonally opposite Ragigudda Temple and say "Barra, parath yethey!" (Right, we'll come back!).

Call Rajvardhan Foods on 6540132.

M.K.

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