A block from Sean and Archana’s place is a little South Indian food stall, Veena Idly. Sean took us there on our first morning in Bangalore. I remember enjoying it, but my memories of that breakfast were quite hazy due to our exhausting travel day.
For some reason, we didn’t make it back to Veena until yesterday. I’m not sure why, as we talked about going a bunch. Maybe it’s the same reason that Floridians never use the pool in their backyard. One day while driving to work, we even ad-libbed a jingle for Veena. I think it went something like this (it changed a bit every time):
Veena Idly, for all your idly needs
Veena Idly, hooray for you and me
Veena Idly, for all your idly needs
I want some Veena Idly! (and vada too!)
However, we did have our final two Bangalore breakfasts at Veena, and they were fantastic. The menu is similar to many other south Indian breakfast stalls, but the execution was far above the competition. Someone said they have a special high-end idly steamer. I don’t know what it is, but I do know that I love it.
Idly/vada, the classic south Indian breakfast served with amazing coconut chutney
Chow chow bath. There are two sections, sweet and a savory. You are supposed to get a little of each part in each bite.
No. 183, 15th Cross, Margosa Road
Malleshwaram, Bangalore, India 560 055
Daily: Breakfast, Lunch
After perusing a few Thanksgiving stuffing recipes and feeling completely uninspired, Kenny and I decided to attempt an Indian stuffing. Here’s what we came up with. The end result actually tasted remarkably like a Thanksgiving stuffing, but with some Indian flavor.
- 1 bunch of gobi (cauliflower)
- 1/4 kg lady fingers (okra)
- 2 small red onions
- 1 package of MTR Channa Masala (or you can be less lazy than us and make it yourself; we were running out of time with all of our other Thanksgiving prep and decided to take a delicious shortcut)
- 12 small vadas (we got frozen ones; fresh vadas from a local shop would probably be better)
- 2 eggs
- Coconut oil
In a large skillet, warm 1 tbsp coconut oil over medium heat. Add onion, cauliflower, and okra, and saute for 5 minutes or until tender. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
Crumble the vadas into a large bowl. Add sauteed vegetables to the crumbs. Stir in the beaten eggs and mix well. Then add the channa and mix well.
Transfer the mixture to a large pot, and cook covered on medium heat for about an hour (even better, use an oven if you have one). Cut into pieces and garnish with curry leaves to serve.
On our last afternoon in Pondy, we took the local Heritage Walk tour. During the walk around the French quarter, we started discussing food and drink with the tour guide. He told us that Pondicherry was not very good at classic French food (in line with our observations), but had good continental food and amazing South Indian food. We asked what his favorite South Indian restaurant was, and he unhesitatingly recommended Surguru. He takes his family there when they want to go out for South Indian food. So how could we resist? Off we went for our final dinner in Pondy.
Surguru is set back from the busy Mission Street, in a converted Health Department office. The building reminded me a little of a bingo hall or a community center, with a bunch of larger tables, a cashier behind small bars, and a recessed upstairs loft.
Unfortunately our camera was stolen with the pictures from this meal still on the SD card. So text will have to suffice for this one (if anyone makes it here, send me pictures of the Tandoori Idly).
The menu at Surguru is enormous, with South Indian, North Indian, and South/North fusion dishes. We had a feast so that we could try even a small fraction of what looked intriguing:
- Tandoori Idly – None of the Indians I’ve talked to have heard of this, but it was delicious. 3 Idlies cooked in the Tandoor with a tandoori masala sauce. The idlies were still nice and soft on the inside, with the addition of a unique smokiness and heft to the outside. I’m very sad to have lost my pictures of this special treat.
- Channa Batura – We didn’t know what this was, but we like channa (chickpeas) and gave it a try. Turns out that a batura is a large, puffy fry bread (think poori but larger and with a thicker skin). Baturas are a bit too greasy for my taste, but it made for an impressive picture (oops), and the channa preparation was great. Spicy, complex, and perfectly cooked channa.
- Mangalore Set Dosa with Vada Curry – Surguru has an entire section of their menu dedicated to dosai, and we asked the waiter for his recommendation. A Mangalore dosa is solely made of rice, which makes it lighter and lacier than your standard dosa. The “set” part of the dosa meant that it was cooked on one side and served in a set of two. It came out more like a medium-sized pancake than the paper-thin dosai I’ve had in the past. As advertised it was served with a vada curry, which was thick, brown, spicy and went well with the dosa.
- 3 Taste Uttapam – I’d seen uttapam on a bunch of menus and didn’t know what they were. The “3 Taste Uttapam” seemed like a good way to try them out. The uttapam was pancake-ish (like the set dosa but cooked on both sides) with vegetables mixed in. The 3 tastes were onion, tomato, and parsley. The parsley was my favorite, the herbs mixed into the uttapam went very well with the assortment of chutneys. The onion and tomato were fine, but less exciting.
Overall, the food was fantastic and very cheap. Staff were friendly, and the ambience was entertaining. It was fun watching the food stream out of the kitchen. We’ll definitely be back next time we’re in the area, and I highly recommend checking out Surguru if you’re in Pondicherry.
99 Mission Street (+ 2 other locations)
Daily: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner