Let me invite you (like it’s my pop’s cafe), to taste what is undoubtedly the only dish that you would be willing to survive on, for the rest of your life. It’s a trip to Sri Lakshmi Venkateshwara Coffee Bar at Banashankari 2nd Stage, Bangalore.
The route to get here. Get to Jayanagar, ask for Banashankari 2nd Stage. Get to Banashankari Stage and ask for the Bata Store. Take the road from Bata Store that leads you to Banashankari Complex, and keep looking to your left. In case you feel like looking at your right, then stop at the gigantic park, and look at this unassuming baap of idli joints, to your left.
What’s even greater is that the owner doesn’t know that he makes the best idlis and vadas on the planet. So, he still makes it from the heart, as nothing has gone to his head.
You’ll find a humble ancient Bajaj scooter parked there, which belongs to the owner.
Behind the cash counter, you’ll find a man from Udupi, who’s neatly scrubbed with Hamam soap, and finished with stripes of ash and a dot of vermillion on his forehead. He’s incharge of the coupons. Buy yourself a coupon for a double and a vada, and a coffee to begin with. ‘Double’ here is the accepted term for 2 Idlis.
Push yourself through the crowds and give your token to the man behind the delivery counter. An equally well bathed man. You’ll hear a loud shrill voice announce your order ”ondhu double barli’ (may the double come).
Through the dingy dark opening behind the counter, you’ll see the steamer being opened, and 2 hot Idlis will be promptly scooped out of a brown dhothi cloth.
Your Idlis will now slide out in a shapeless steel plate to the man at the counter. Don’t panic, he knows the order of the orders. Your idlis will go to nobody else. He’ll now carefully pick a nice crisp brown vada from the dozens he has piled next to him, add it to the plate, and pour 2 ladles of coconut chutney on them and thrust it before you.
In case you want sambhar, then get back to that neighborhood idli joint of yours. You are not lucky enough to taste a slice of heaven, beforehand.
Push your way through the crowds again, as the whiff of the waft hits your face.
And settle down on the stone steps, beside those two early morning elderly joggers, who’ve gathered to crib about the welfare of the state.
Now, let loose your 4 gm spoon, to sink into these soft cakes of paradise. And scoop out spoonfuls, one by one, to the rhythmic sound of the old lady who winnows rice in the neighboring provision store.
Dodge them in your mouth, roll your tongue to not be stung by the heat of these dumplings, and let the taste of the chutney take over. Give your teeth some rest. Leave your tongue do the crushing. Swallow, and feel the steam go down your food pipe.
Now, alternate with bites of the crispy vada, to give your restless teeth some role to play.
Soon, you’ll run out of chutney. Get back, but not all the way inside. You’ll find a little boy standing near the cash counter with a bowl of chutney balancing over a red gas cylinder. Take a greedy helping, and return to your uncomfortable seat.
Once you are done, proceed to the delivery counter again with your coffee coupon. Return back in time to catch the climax of the conversation of the 2 joggers, trying to balance a steaming cup of filter coffee.
Light up your smoke and enjoy.
If you still don’t enjoy this, then burn up a few thousand dollars and take a sky diving trip to the alps.
Also available: Chow Chow bath, Khara Bath, kesari bath, Masala dosa (Limited Qty), lemon rice, puliyogare (tamarind rice), Vangi Bath (brinjal rice), curd rice, buttermilk, tea, ciggies and water. (and everything as good as the idli vadas)