The thing I love about festivals in India, is that follower or non-follower, when it comes to the festival food, everybody’s game. With Eid coming up soon, we’re right in the middle of the month of Ramzan. And there’s a whole lot of good food to be had.
Unfortunately, this year, the usual food stalls that are set-up on Mosque Road are no longer there. So far, this has been claimed as the best place to feast on all the kababs, haleem and biryanis in town for Ramzan.
But I guess I’ll never have a say about this because I’ve never been there. Despicable, I know. (I can actually hear some Bangaloreans gasp in shock.) I guess I deserve this for never making an effort to visit Mosque Road when I had the chance. Oh, well.
Over the last three years, food stalls have popped up on JNC (short for Jyothi Nivas College, which is located on a by-lane of this street) road in Koramangala. Ever since best friend and I learnt about this three years back, we’ve been regular visitors.
I’m sad to report that I didn’t think the crowd or the food lived up the Ramzan feasting standards. And I went on a Saturday evening. Were the roads choked with traffic? Yes. Were there people bumping into each other trying to place their order for a plate of mutton cutlets? Yes. But it wasn’t enough. Like I said, it wasn’t Ramzan standard.
Nevertheless, I did get my hands on some good food and that’s what I’m here to tell you about.
The variety of meat you’ll find here includes the usual mutton, chicken, prawns and fish. Then there’s the unconventional delicacies like emu, camel and quail. Kababs of all shapes and sizes, cutlets, rolls, curries, haleem and paaya are everywhere you look. And if you want to go all the way, there’s also biryani. Finally, you can end with sweets, of which the most popular are phirni (rice pudding) and shahi tukda (a version of bread pudding).
The food stalls put up as part of the Hotel Empire Food Mela gathered the most crowd, and I felt like the food in terms of variety and quality was better here too. Here I tried some amazing, amazing camel meat.
I’ve only eaten camel once before in a burger, so I was eager to try a more local preparation of it. It looked so good and I know I wasn’t the only one who thought so because later a couple totally couldn’t resist asking me what I was eating and where I got it from.
It tasted even better than it looked – I would certainly go back for some more.
Then I headed over to the unmissable call from the very last stall under the restaurant’s roof – a certain Zu’s Doner Kebaps. Every now and then, the guy heading the stall would yell, “Doner kabab roll! Have one, you will forget shawarma!” and “4.1 Zomato rating!”
So naturally, I had to find out for myself. Let’s just say, I still remember shawarma. Full points for his marketing gimmicks though.
Next, we stepped out to check out the stalls along the road. The crowd here was lesser and the quail that I tried last year didn’t look as appealing to me this year. So I tried some phal (undercut beef) instead.
While the phal was being cooked to the succulent perfection that it was, I spoke to the stall owner about the lack of crowd. He said it was because people were still not very aware of these food stalls in Koramangala. I also confirmed if Mosque Road was really not hosting food stalls this year (I still had a glimmer of hope). He told me that too many people in the neighbouring residences have been complaining because of which it wasn’t possible to acquire licenses anymore.
It was quite sad to hear, not just because food lovers across the city will be missing out, but because the food stall owners can’t bank on Mosque Road to make that additional income during what is the most important time of the year for them. I asked him if the stalls would return next year, and he said, even if they did, it wouldn’t pull the same crowd as before. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
For dessert, I reentered the gates of Hotel Empire and tried some shahi tukda. The highlight however was a sweet called Ajooba that the food stall owner said I must try. So obviously I did, and it wasn’t bad at all. The sweet is a perfectly round rasgulla with a rose flavoured centre, coated in caramel powder. The guy said I had to eat it in one mouthful. I didn’t.
If you head over to JNC Road for a Ramzan feast, I’d love to know what you tried and what you loved. Ramadan Kareem everyone!
As almost always, please excuse the quality of my pictures. The atmosphere wasn’t exactly accommodating every time I whipped out my phone to snap a picture. On more than one occasion, I got in the way of people trying to place an order. Oops.