South Indian Food – A family obsession !

Ever since I immigarted to London ,it’s been a year by the way ,already (!), I get these craving sto go eat some certain type of food that is so commonly available in Bombay that one take sit for granted .

But once you live abroad and you know that you are a self confessed FOODIE , it becomes a real thrilling task to keep a track of all the places that offer “AUTHEHNTIC” Indian food !It’s easy to get confused by the number of options available but clearly many of the places do not live up to expectations of “AUTHENTIC” Indian taste or simply fail mierably on offering basic service or are just so grubby looking one wouldn’t want to sit after setting foot inside !

There are marked ghetto like area’s in London,namely East Ham,Croydon,Tooting,Wembley and ofcourse the FAMOUS South Hall, which are easily accesible by the tube which serve up some really authetic Indian food in the form of mouthwatering delicacies at awesome rates !

My most favourite for south indian snacks – I crave MEDU VADAS and Doa’s with a passion at times and I head staright to Tooting to SARAVANA BHAVAN !

The first time I visited a branch of SARAVANA BHAVAN was at East Ham after the Roayl Wedding . I did manage to catch a glimpse of the beautiful ,now Duchess of Cambridge,  Kate Middleton .She was waving to the cheering  crowds whowent absolutely MAD when the car inw hich she was travelling passed us by , she ofcourse was then taken to the abbey to wed her Prince Charming ,my husband and me never made it anywhere near Buckingham Palace to watch the famous kiss on the balcony but yes we did manage to see it live on a MASSIVE screen set up at one of the branches of the HOUSE OF FRASER and all the people who had crammed themselves inside actually sat down on the floor and a very gracious member of the staff served us a yummy fruit flavoured bubbly as soon as the couple was married on screen, with millions viewing teary eyed, the world over!After watching the wedding we decided to escape the crowds of Central London and the thousands that were moving out from the streets after having waved to the Princess. So we rushed over to Victoria Station before the tubes became suffocatingly over crowded or worse !

On a whim I suggested we head to East Ham  to dig into some really good south indian snacks.

I must confess it was LOVE at first BITE  for me at SARAVANA BHAVAN, they are present in many locations worldwide and I frequent 2 of their branches in london , the one at EAST HAM and the one at Tooting. Noteworthy feature is that they have an impressive JAIN MENU , since my closest buddies here are a Jain couple, S even has her own Jain Food blog(!),it is always a challenge to find tasty JAIN food options in London. For the uninitiated JAINISM is a religion in India and one of the aspects is that followers are quite strict with NOT consuming onions and garlic in their food.In the past few months I have learnt so many recipes which I didn’t know existed all thanks to my JAIN buddies ,not to mention that S is an exceptional cook and stir up the most amazing recipes in a matter of minutes.My tummy is witness to many such preparations, she also her own versions for Bombay’s most popular street foods!

Anyway back to our discussion about south Indian snacks,The upma was so tasty at SARAVANA BHAVAN- EAST HAM , I was transported straight to Matunga where I often head to a place called ANAND BHUVAN to savour their yummy dosa’s vada’s idli’s and my favourite comfort food BISIBELE BHATH– a rice and dal dish all spiced up , dish which satisfies the mind as much as it does the tummy and is extreemly healthy and good on the pocket too .Here’s a few blog links to someyummy recipes for  this dish :

http://mysoorean.blogspot.com/2007/02/bisi-bele-bhath.html

http://madhusvantalu.wordpress.com/2007/09/24/bisibele-bath-a-classic-karnataka-dish/

ANAND BHAVAN is a traditional south indian UDIPI joint in Matunga East in Bombay. The food is exceptionally taste , the service is warm, the look and feel of the place is totally old world and charming to say the least ,something like walking into an old irani restaurant for “maska pao and cutting chai”.

I had ONE  photograph, I had clicked using my Nokia E63 in 2010 of ANAND BHAVAN , here it is:

ANAND BHAVAN is THE BEST place to eat yummy south indian snacks according to me as there are a zillion outlest in close viccinity in Matunga thanks to the large south Indian community that resides there ,but nothing as quaint an experience and so good on the pcoket as ANAND BHAVAN .

MATUNGA , a suburn in BOMBAY,INDIA,also has a huge market selling every imaginable fruit and veegtable erquired for south indian cooking and regular cookingas well , shops selling traditional clothing, a temple,a dance school , a NALLI store and ofcourse shops selling freshly ground coffee powder , just one whiff is enough to take you staright to Chennai I suppose :).You there is a unique quality about this suburb that there are pockets that feel diecidely south indian , some extreemly Gujju dominated and some so very Maharastrain. It’s this amazing way of different cultures mixing and offering such a mindboggling variety of culinary experiences that makes Bomaby much of what it is today. A cosmpolitan city with a rocking attitude, a space for and BY everyone so to speak.It’s a city that liberates and ofcourse because it is an ISLAND city the best and most breathtaking sea side experience is yours for a taking.I could go on and on but I wish not to ramble, because there will always be a large part of BOMBAY in everything I write about .

Though at my in laws place there is a huge debate over which of these many south indian outlets really is THE BEST .My mother in law likes another small but great place bang opposite the station called SHARDA BHUVAN, she like the fact they are still so old world with no A/C and no fancy seating but that the charm of the place really and the food is amazing ,really , she often heads there eraly morning before she heads to the library at FORT to get some steaming hot idlis and chutney followed by the traditional Filter Coffee- aah !My hubby is a fan of HOTEL RAMA ASHRAYA and has a particulary yummy sweet prepartion that he heads there to gobble ona regular basis with one of his buddies.This one is a short walk from SHARDA BHAVAN and  HOTEL ARYA BHAVAN, is set between flower shops and a coffee powder shop and faces the lane which has the local post office,which in turn is surrounded by about a dozen flower shops selling garlands big and small and an apt place to pick some for a visit to the temple or for a wedding.

Now my dad in law likes a totally different place,it’s called HOTEL ARYA BHAVAN,it has seating at a basement level ,is hot and humid and crammed but the food is tasty and the loaction is spot on!

South Indian Restaurants or UDIPI joints as they are more popularly know are so popular in Bombay and so easily accessible in Bombay that one gets really used to just popping in and eating an idli or a dosa and walking out happy, the whole thing about craving such ood in London is trying out several such places and coming up with THE BEST and a second best, I have picked mine already.Ofcourse SARAVANA BHAVAN is “THE” best  in terms of the quality of food and the number of loactions, additional brownie points for the Jain Menu ofcourse, now there is another outlet called DOSA and CHUTNEY , they have 2 branches one at Tooting and another at Croydon in London, they also offer Non vegetarian options ,my favourite is Kottu Rice,it’s a spicy rice dish with meats,veggies and a Sri Lankan roti ! They serve generous protions, the prices are very good and the place is clean not to mention the sevice is swift as well , I normally wash down a spicy dish like Kottu Rice with a delicious Mango Lassi or followu up a dosa with a hot filter coffee :).The staff is friendly and I often reach there on a lazy weekday , eat some lunch and then do my grocery shopping !

I am right now walking this streets of Bombay especially MATUNGA, in my mind right now and taking a million pictures , I promise myself that I shall do justice to this post by uploading pictures when I do go to Indian this year , I simply cannot wait now!I do plan to visit all my favourite haunts including BADE MIYA for kebab’s and hopefully catching a glimpse of SRK who is said to visit them at times ( a famous rumour in my college days’s),eat berry pulao at Brittannia , ofcourse gulp down unlimited amounts of PANI PURI at Elco ,Bandra and the list goes on and on and on!

P.S: Loads of information about MATUNGA and the many Udipi Joints on http://mumbai.burrp.com/

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8 thoughts on “South Indian Food – A family obsession !

  1. Awesome Manjiri … u jut took me back 3 yrs !! had gone to Nalli’s for my wedding saree shopping 🙂 had yummy BF @ Anand Bhavan 😀 ! wish I could hop on to the next plane to Mumbai / Pune !!

  2. Absolutely amazing post – and I cannot agree more with you. South Indian food is a delight and Saravana Bhavan is surely one of the best places to have authentic South Indian Food.

    We should plan frequent trips 🙂

  3. hey manjiri awesome post. I just had a sneak in this post coz of its title (related to food ). I found my name mentioned in your post and wanted to thanks for your kind words.

    do keep posting good posts 🙂 cheers !!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. I don’t even know the way I finished up here, however I thought this put up was once good. I do not understand who you might be but definitely you are going to a famous blogger when you aren’t already.
    Cheers!

  5. Pingback: Upma/Uppet (उप्पीट)- a classic Indian breakfast recipe | sliceoffme

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