Iyer Mess in Malleswaram is the perfect place to gorge on authentic vegetarian Iyer food. It’s a no-frills eatery with a simple set menu and is open only for lunch and dinner. Located just off Malleswaram’s popular 8th Cross market, Iyer Mess is slightly hard to find but not if you ask a local. A tiny corridor opens up into two wide dining rooms with neatly placed rows of steel tables and stools, reminding us of community canteens in the India of yore. No wonder then that this epicurean institution has been standing tall at the same spot since 1959.
The cuisine is simple vegetarian fare, typical of Brahmin households in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The preparation is overseen by Kamala Venkatesh, the owner’s wife, which means no artificial ingredients or spicy masalas are ever used. You buy a meal token, take a seat, and open a fresh banana leaf already on the table. Soon enough, a row of servers arrives holding little buckets full of sambhar and rasam. You will be served a mound of rice, along with piping hot sambhar and rasam, two vegetable dishes, papad and a bowl of fresh curd.
The only a la carte items are paper-thin chapatis and the dal vada (incredibly delicious}. On Sundays, they serve Majjige-Huli (a buttermilk-based pumpkin sambhar) and payasam (milk-based dessert). Both these special items sent us straight to heaven, and are highly recommended.
There is nothing really to sip on here. Although the rasam’s great enough to drink from a tumbler if that’s your thing. It is ours! The entire operation runs with clockwork precision. You find a seat, you eat, you get up, and you leave satisfied.