Mumbai Food: Indulge in some delicious Kannadiga fare at this pop-up
It started with a bottle of gin. Bengaluru resident Vishal Shetty was having people over for a meal, and invited her childhood friend and neighbour Divya Prabhakar, who went over with gin. By the time everyone had left and the last drop of alcohol had been drunk, the duo had a plan: they would launch a business together. This was August 2015. By February 2016, the duo started the Bengaluru Oota Company (BOC), hosting meals at a lovely little home in their city. Starting Wednesday, they will be serving delicious Mangalorean and Gowda fare in Mumbai, as part of the Canteen Karnataka Feast, a pop-up being held in collaboration with The Bombay Canteen (TBC).
Kane Fry. Pics/Ashish Raje
We meet the ladies at the Lower Parel restaurant on a sunny afternoon. They greet us warmly, before Shetty quickly excuses herself to oversee the work going on in the kitchen. Prabhakar settles down and tells us their story. "Vishal is a Mangalorean. Her father started Udyavan, Bengaluru's iconic drive-in restaurant, and also owned canteens in Mumbai. I am a seventh generation Gowda [an agrarian community] from Ulsoor in Bengaluru," she begins. The duo brings together recipes from both communities, gleaned from family members. "While there are restaurants serving Mangalorean food, Gowda cuisine is a dying one. We're not as enterprising as Mangaloreans, you see," chuckles Prabhakar.
TBC's chef-partner Thomas Zacharias and sous chef Shannon Lawrence share that word about BOC had travelled all the way to Mumbai, which made them curious. They went down to Bengaluru to learn the tricks of the trade from the two women, and a collaboration was born.
A Kannadiga feast
Without further ado, we tuck in to our meal, which begins with the lightest appetiser imaginable — Sandige (fryums) paired with Kosambri, a salad of diced cucumber, coconut and moong dal. "Scoop some of the Kosambri into the Sandige and then pop it into your mouth. It's the best way to enjoy all the flavours and textures," suggests Prabhakar.
Curd Rice with Pineapple Menaskai and Rasam
We then try the Pundi Ajadina (rice balls in a coconut masala), followed by the Kane (lady fish) Fry. It's the Jeegujje Fry that comes as a surprise. Breadfruit is tossed in masala and rava-fried, resulting in a dish that is piquant and crunchy, with a texture akin to meat. The appetisers make for the perfect accompaniments to our Red Rice Cooler, one of the four cocktails that have been created by the TBCâÂÂÂÂteam for the pop-up.
Sandige with Kosambri
(Clockwise from left) The main course includes Kundapur Mushroom and Green Peas Taal, Manoli and Cashew Upkari, Sirikeri and Karamani Palya, Mamsa Saaru, Ghee Rice, Ragi Mudde and Neer Dosa
Our table now heaves with dishes that make up the main course. Our favourite here is the Mamsa Saaru, a Gowda preparation featuring mutton cooked in a coriander-heavy gravy, which we mop up with Ragi Mudde (finger millet balls). The course concludes with Curd Rice and Pineapple Mensakai (pineapple curry) and piping hot Rasam, which acts as a digestive. Our meal finally comes to an end with Chiroti and Ghasaghase Payasa, a festive flaky pastry served with a poppy seed pudding. Word of advice:âÂÂÂÂyou will need a long nap when you're through with it.
(Left to right) Vishal Shetty, Shannon Lawrence, Thomas Zacharias and Divya Prabhakar
FROM: November 1 to 15 (a la carte for lunch; yele oota [banana leaf meal] for dinner)
AT: Kamala Mills, Lower Parel.
COST: Rs 2,400 plus taxes (veg yele oota for two), Rs 2,800 plus taxes (non-veg yele oota for two)