Udupi, a small town in south western Karnataka, is 58 km away from Mangalore and is notable for the famous "Krishna Mutt “ temple and, of course, its cuisine. Udupi is also my mom's hometown. As a child, I used to visit my grandparents quite often and even today Udupi has a special place in my heart. I love the religious tranquility it has to offer and I always make it a point to visit the ”Ashta Mutts" in Udupi every time I am in India.
"Udupi Sri Krishna" in his various alankara's.
ORIGIN OF UDUPI CUISINE:
Founded by Madhwacharya in the 13th century, Udupi is dominated by Shivalli, Tulu-speaking, Madhwa brahmins who also serve as the temple’s cooks . Lord Krishna is offered a variety of food every day and the restriction on ingredients during the "Chaturmasa" (4 months of the monsoon season), coupled with the requirement of variety in dishes involving seasonal and local materials, led to the innovation of the famous “Udupi cuisine".
ORIGIN OF MASALA DOSA:
Being a South Indian, I am a big fan of masala dosas and I can eat one every day and not tire of it. Many food writers have mentioned that the dosa originated in Udupi and in the Tamilnadu household. Originally, a dosa was served plain with onion-free potato curry on the side in deference to orthodox Hindus and Jains. Later, at a time when there was a shortage of potatoes, onions were used as fillers, sautéed with spices, and added to mashed potatoes. This mixture was then placed inside the dosa to hide the onions, thus resulting in the birth of the super tasty “Masala Dosa".
Having lived in the USA for 16 years now, when I reminisce about food in India, what I miss dearly is a good masala dosa. Many restaurants here call themselves “Udupi Restaurants" serving authentic South Indian food, but disappointingly, they are not even close.
Much as I love the style, opulence, and grandeur of 5 star hotels in India, I also enjoy old family-run restaurants popular for their secret recipes and dishes. Of the countless masala dosas that I have eaten in my lifetime, my absolute favorite is the one from "Udupi Krishna Bhavan" in Balepet, Bangalore. This restaurant also has branches in Gandhi Bazar and Koramangala.
Established in 1929 by H.V Janaradhaniah, it is now managed by his grandson Mr. Subramanya Holla, who also happens to be our dearest friend. My trips to India are never complete without Subbu’s masala dosas and filter kaapis.
Smeared with red chutney, topped with aloo bhaji, and oozing with ghee, these crispy dosas have a very distinct taste which makes them stand apart from the rest.
I have always been fascinated by the art of dosa-making in a restaurant and during my recent trip to India, I got the opportunity to enter Sri Udupi Krishna Bhavan’s kitchen and capture the making of a masala dosa from start to finish…. raw, uncut, and unedited!
This is the Balepet branch ( Oldest one).... The second and the third branches are in Koramangala and Gandhibazaar, Bangalore.
INSIDE THE KITCHEN:
In Udupi Krishna Bhavan , dosas are served in the mornings as well as afternoon between 2.30 & 7.30p.m. So I finalized a date and time with Subbu, left my Sundari in the car with the driver, and, armed with my camera and lens, headed to the kitchen of the Balepat branch. This restaurant is almost 100 years old and I picked this location over the newer ones in Gandhi Bazar and Koramangala because I love anything that is old and has a lot of character. Inside, the manager and the dosa guy were waiting for me. The entire team inside the kitchen was excited and amused to see a lady walking into the kitchen with a huge camera and taking their pictures.
40 Kgs of batter is ground everyday.
The restaurant serves around 800 to 1000 masala dosas everyday to it's customers.
Water is sprinkled on the hot griddle to set it to the right temperature.
It's then wiped clean with a broomstick.
The dosa guy "Revanna" was definitely the HERO of the evening and the rest of the restaurant’s workers flocked around him as I took pictures of him making dosas in style. Boom, boom, boom....he made 18 perfectly-sized masala dosas in 3.5 minutes flat, after which he paused and looked at me. I asked him to smile and he did, with his eyes!!
Revanna makes 33 dosas in 7 minutes.
Ample ghee.... secret of any tasty Indian food.
"Udupi Krishna Bhavana" is the only restaurant in Bangalore where the dosas are flipped and fried on both sides.
A garlic & an onion free chutney made out of "red chillies" and "Huri kadale" is then smeared.
A scoop of "Alu Bhaji"
Voila! the golden brown crispy dosas are ready.
Don't forget to pair it with "Filter Kaapi".
With Mr. Subramanya Holla a.k.a Subbu, our dear friend and the owner of "Shri Udupi Krishna Bhavana".
As I was typing this post, I silently thanked "Sage&Slingback" for giving me a chance to share my madness and my zest for life with all my readers through my posts. I am sure it is very clear by now that “the way to my heart is definitely through my stomach" and I hope all you masala dosa lovers enjoyed this virtual treat!