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#LBBWalksTheTalk: Russell Market With Chef Xerxes Of Red Fork

Roshni posted on 12 May

Always thought 7am was too early an hour to start your day? We did, too. Until we decided to explore Russell Market on a walk with Xerxes Bodhanwala, chef and co-founder of Red Fork {Indiranagar}. Reaching the market early on a weekday morning, we spent a while reflecting on the age-old heritage structure {built in 1927} before starting off. Known to be one of the oldest markets in the city, the vendors were just starting with their day’s business when we began the walk. By the time we got back to the same spot {around two hours later}, the place had changed completely with many vendors, trucks and general chaos.

From the fish market to the bustling vegetables market, Chef Xerxes took us through the place, giving us the lowdown on where he shops from for his restaurant kitchen. Ask him what brings him to Russell Market, and he’ll tell you all about the freshness of products and how over time, these vendors have come to understand the kind of products he is looking for. Here’s a glimpse of how the walk went.

Fishy Business

We first weave in our way into the fish market. This place isn’t for the light-hearted. Be prepared to watch your step and ignore the odour all around. The open-air marketplace has vendors displaying the fare with others on the side, busy scaling, gutting and cutting them up for customers.

Chef Xerxes usually stops by for the mackerel, which you’ll find as Crackerel on Red Fork’s menu, featuring a tempura fried version. Pink Perch and Salmon {seasonal} are other fish he picks up from here. We are all ears, as chef explains that the firmness of the fish is a major sign of how fresh it is. Make sure to take a look at the gills — they need to be red. Something smelling fishy? Then, it’s probably not as fresh as you’d like it to be. Fresh catch shouldn’t really have a smell, Xerxes explains.

Where: For fresh mackerels, and exotic seafood, check out A. Shukoor Fishers, 3 {third shop on right side}, Russell Market. Ask for fishmonger Syed Ajmal.

Price: INR 100 upwards

Contact: +91 8123451107

Timings: 5.30am-3.30pm


Shop 3, Russell Market, Shivaji Nagar, Bengaluru

Picking Crabs

On our smelly journey through the fish stalls we stopped to check out some crabs. Apart from the regular mud crabs, we spotted blue ones, said to be meatier and better suited for dishes with subtle flavours, according to Chef. While signs for fresh crabs include a hard shell and lack of smell, Xerxes stresses on checking the eyes. White eyes are a complete no-no! Want to try a crab dish by the ace chef? Try the Chilli Sambal Crab with Coconut Rice {prepared with mud crabs}, next time you’re at Red Fork.

Where: AST Fisheries, Shop No. 11, Russel Market

Price: INR 160 upwards

Contact: +91 9980418721

Timings: 6am-3pm

Meat Shops

Shop 11, Russell Market, Shivaji Nagar, Bengaluru

Veggies Galore

Fish pickings done, up next was a bit of veggie shopping. Xerxes let us in on the fact that Russell Market has vendors who offers veggies required for specific cuisines. Think Asian vegetables for Chinese dishes or English’ vegetables to accompany your roast chicken. His go-to option is AS Traders for their fresh stock of zucchini, broccoli and American cucumber, which find their way into dishes like the Zucchini Parcel with Millet Salad and Tarkari Khichdi with Dahi Curry {a Parsi special} at Red Fork. Considering their menu which changes frequently, he is also hoping to add dishes using local heroes like bitter gourd, yam and white pumpkin.

Where: AS Traders, Shop no. 120-121 {towards the back of the market building}

Price: INR 50 upwards

Contact: +91 9886238773, +91 9480912992

Timings: 7am-2pm

Food Stores

Shop 120 & 121, Russell Market, Shivaji Nagar, Bengaluru


Make sure you arrive early as 6.30am-7am if you want to get your hands on the best of the produce and to avoid crowds. The place can get really crowded and messy after 10am.