The best things in life require hard work. And sacrifices. Real, tough ones. Keeping this in mind, the hubby stayed hungry all day. Well, lunch was one idli, one pomegranate, and one tea. That was the sacrifice bit. Keeping the hard work part in mind, he also spent one zealous hour on the cross-country trainer.
All this for what, you ask?
Not for fitness, I assure you. This was in preparation for Ramzan feast on Mosque Road. As much as we love the food, we stay in JP Nagar, and travelling to Fraser town, requires a serious amount of planning, a whole lot of drive, and a maniacal desperation for non-vegetarian food. So, yes, every year it’s a huge event for us. I look up the Id holiday on my office calendar, the hubby re-arranges his very flexible work schedule, we postpone our weekend holiday plans, the hubby invites extended family (in the spirit of family pilgrimages), and make a grand event of it. Of course, in the end, we sneak out all alone, too impatient to wait for anybody, consoling ourselves (and them!) that we could go again next week.
So it was last Friday. The hubby went about his preparations as I mentioned. I went about mine, which included a huge Friday lunch with friends. I believe that if you ignore lunch, dinner could be upset, and that wouldn’t do right?
The auto dropped me right in front of Pista House. The hubby was not there. We called each other, called each other a few non-complimentary names, and then proceeded to sniff our surroundings. It was wonderful. There were not too many stalls before Pista House, but looked like there’s where the action began. Letting my nose be my guide (instead of the usual GPS), I walked down the street, looking at the umpteen stalls on the street. It was only 6.30, but the stalls were doing good business, if not roaring business yet. Since it was not totally crowded yet, I could get a good view of the food. My heart…and stomach fell in love. Samosas, cutlets, sheek kababs, well – kababs of every possible kind, chops, keema parathas, biryani, haleem, the newly fashionable pathar gosht… I was in heaven.
For the un-informed, Mosque Road has the best Ramzan feast in Bangalore. An entire street lined with delicacies made up of every possible meat – chicken, mutton, beef. This year, I saw a stall with camel meat too, but this one I preferred to ignore. In the midst of all this meat, there’s also some stalls selling sea food – prawns and fish, but…well, as much as I love sea food, that’s no way to celebrate. So yeah, we half-heartedly bought some prawns, but then veered again, in the direction of meat.
Every year, in the spirit of tradition, we start off with beef sheek kabab. It’s not a coincidence. You see, as the ground meat melts in your mouth, as the spices hit your palate, as your fingers mix the onion with last stray pieces of meat on the paper plate, your eyes glaze over, and…and you reach nirvana. All the hard work, all the travel, all the arguments now make sense, and you realize that this is where you are meant to be. You also look at the hubby reaching out greedily for a meaty concoction of mutton brains, kidneys, and liver, and you realize you are soul mates. He seems to be reaching the same conclusion, because soon after, he offers a greasy hand, and we walk in hand-in-hand, thrilled that everything is all right with the universe.
And we try the pathar gosth, with some super-soft idiayappam. It was yum. We murmur approval. My tummy was protesting, but I was scared to acknowledge it. It was only 7.15 pm. I couldn’t give up this early, could I? We walked into the tent right opposite the mosque, and right into this maze of stalls, people, smoke, and food. I loved it. It was hot and even the air seem to be laden with fat and cholesterol. Just the way I like it. We fought our way through masses of like-minded junkies who seemed to be drugged with meat-induced stupor. People banged into each other, murmured their apologies, but then stood right there with their plates of steaming meat, and continued with their life sustenance.
We tried some more food. And just when I couldn’t bear any more, the hubby suggested the chai. I hate milky sweet over-boiled tea, but after all that meat, I have to say that the paani kum chai was a relief. We walked out of the tent, and decided that we have to walk a bit more, before we could ingest any more cholesterol. We walked away from the mosque, away from the crowds, towards the lesser crowded streets. I have to say, one thing. Our stomachs must have some endurance and persistence, because only after 10 minutes, it said “I am ready.” By some lucky coincidence, we were at that point right in front of a Hyderabadi stall that sold Haleem and Biryani. The stall owner took one look at our starved faces, and before we could even say anything, spooned a generous quantity of Haleem into a bowl, poured some ghee and caramelized onions, and then watched in silent sympathy, as we wolfed it down in total silence.
We were tired. Exhausted. But as people with a lot of drive, we couldn’t give up. We decided to take a break. There’s a nice clean ice cream parlor on the street – Haji Mastan from Mumbai apparently. Looking at how brightly lit it was, and how empty it was, we decided that it was where we could get some relief. We walked in and looked at the menu. And this was where the hubby made his one and only strategic mistake. He ordered a fruit falooda. I looked at him in horror, and asked him if he was sure. He insisted. “If you eat that falooda, we wouldn’t be able to eat any more haleem..and we haven’t even had biryani..or paal..or shahi tukda”, I said, panic clawing at my insides. The hubby being the hubby, assured me that he could have one biryani, one haleem, and one plate of kababs after the falooda. I resigned myself to my fate, and ordered a mint lemon juice.
Of course, it was never meant to be. The falooda was well enjoyed, but after that, there was no chance. We walked back on the street, but now he looked at me in despair. It’s time for the football match, he said. We should hurry back, he murmured, but then, he couldn’t look me in the eye. I wanted my pound of flesh, but I was pretty stuffed myself. We packed some haleem, biryani, and kababs, and trudged back to the bus stop.
It was a pretty un-ceremonial exit, but then, now we have an excuse to go back again next week. 🙂 To finish what we started. Who wants to come with us?
P.S: If you are vegetarian, or if you are averse to street food, this might not be the place for you.
P.P.S: If you totally don’t want street food, there are hotels like Empire, Savoury, and Pista House, where you could sit and enjoy your food.