After VV Puram and Johnson Market, if there is a street food zone that needs to be attacked, it is Shivajinagar. A bunch of us met up at the Basilica and took the road running down the left of the main gate. Down the road, you arrive at a crossroad of sorts and through the bustle and noise of the traffic, your nostrils will be assailed by a sheer number of smells — of foods being cooked, and if you manage to somehow tune out the blaring horns, you will hear the hiss, sizzle and pops of kadais, tandoors and tavas going full steam on multiple burners, all beckoning at the top of their delicious voices.

Royal Restaurant


We started at Royal restaurant with some samosas — available in a meat or in a veggie version. Of course we went for the meat. They were handed to us right out of a kadai full of boiling oil. Once you get past the initial heat of holding the samosa, every bite gives you a clearer glimpse of heaven.


Next, we walked over to Savera which does the chai-samosa-nankhatai routine. The Suleimani chai here is something that can be guzzled by the litre. The squeeze of lime and mix of sugar is so balanced that you really get your fix of tea! Almost instantly you will ask for the next glass. The tea is served in a double glass to make it easy to hold considering how hot it is.

Street Carts Selling Kebabs


We stopped at one stall across Savera, and got all that we wanted — they all pretty much serve the same thing and I guess you stay loyal to one to get the best of everything. While our quail was cooking, we got ourselves the mutton and the chicken kebabs. The mutton, searing hot, continued to sizzle on our little paper plates. The marination had a coriander-yogurt base, made the mutton tender and even the fat that it came with was sensational to eat. The mutton disappeared fast and close on its heels was the chicken. This was the customary red masala, a Kashmiri red chilli-coriander-yogurt base which fortunately does not leave your fingers stained. Then came the quail. While the masala was nice, quail being quail was rather bony.

Street Carts


From here, it was time to roll up our sleeves and even the bottom of our pants and dive straight into that singular road of smoke and carts that seemed to be dishing up goodness from a land unknown. Believe it or not, it was like stepping into another world. Picture a fairly narrow lane. On one side you have a row of butchers busy at their work. On the other side you have a row of large carts with tandoors and grills going full steam, with quails marinated whole and on display, with mounds of meats — marinated beef, chicken and mutton, waiting to be grilled.

Iqbal Dressed Chicken Centre


Located at the beginning of the lane with the street carts, Iqbal is more of a show stopper than the others. We caught sight of idiyappams {string hoppers} — so what better way to go than idiyyapams and beef. And what a choice Iqbal’s gives you — kebab, fry, masala fry, sheekh… the works. We had it with the beef kebab — two mounds of idiyyappam with two skewers of kebabs. The kebabs are so juicy, you could actually use the idiyappam to mop it all up. While eating, I also spotted a stall selling a cold falooda milk drink {opposite side of the road, before Royal}.

Grand Hamza


We settled on Grand Hamza as the grand finale. Do not go in expecting anything remotely fancy. Grand Hamza is run down and proudly so. We had to ask the staff to change the table cloth, the AC was not working and the fans pointed everywhere except us. We got ourselves a portion of mutton biryani, bheja fry and faham {tandoori chicken}, both half portions. The biryani comes with a brinjal salan and no raita. The biryani is typical of the area — light on the masala, very greasy {in a nice way}, with tender meat pieces. Think, a slightly rustic version of Richies’ biryani. The bheja fry was declared as brilliant and the faham was tender. You order a biryani, you get to wrap up the meal with a sweet. In this case, a nice phirni.
Hygiene in general is questionable here, so if you are squeamish about it, you best stay away. Vegetarians too are not going to have much save the sweet offerings at Savera and the veggie samosas. But the experience is something in itself. All of this came to roughly INR 300 a head. If you are a sweets person, you may want to check out Luna Sweets as you continue on the main road up from Iqbal. Carrying your own water would be a smart thing to do.

Where: Shivajinagar

Price: INR 10 upwards

Timings: Street carts and stalls begin business daily, 6pm onwards

The post first appeared on the blog Bangalore’s Restaurants. Read the full post here

Photos: Ruth DSouza Prabhu


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