by Swatee Jog
While I watch Highway On My Plate or Chakhle India on NDTV GoodTimes, I always wonder how an episode on Belgaum would be.
Belgaum has its own sumptuous eateries. Back in the eighties, when Khade Bazaar would have a half-day on Tuesday, we (mum, dad n me) would invariably find ourselves at Chaya Café (now the Raymonds showroom @ Sanyukta Maharashtra chowk, Khade Bazar) or New Grand amidst many more business families!
For a change, we’d go to Prashant (Congress Road now NKGSB bank) or Sanmam/Milan. But now there are choices galore!
The new Goli Vadapav is still giving me a miss, but Belgaumites have never been so much spoilt for choice. With many eateries having branches at the North and South ends of the city, it’s a dream-come-true for foodies like me who abhor traveling through the evening traffic. If Ajanta made us wait at the Belgaum branch (Huns Talkies Road), we now have our very own Tilakwadi branch. But I still feel the cook at their Belgaum branch has golden hands who dishes out the most crispy and yummy masala dosas.
Kake Walk and CCD, like Ajanta, are serving in twos! Even Moghe Foods has two branches, one in Angol and one in the city (Huns Talkies Road just opp Huns Theater). Their special Ghee Shira and Sabudana wada reminds me of my mom’s. And not to forget the Tilakwadi staples, Nath Pav Bhaji, Ambica Bhelpuri and Balu’s Bhel (Now opposite GSS college).
Nath’s sweet talking old man invariably inquires for a glass of sugarcane juice but his portion sizes are diminishing by the day. Even the shanty opposite Hari Mandir offers great vada pav and kachori.
I loved Swamy’s Paneer Puffs while in school and they have retained the quality even now. Big Bazaar has extended the shopping experience to the culinary department as well with its mini food court that has on offer some gooey mousse and pastries, but I still would opt for the Kake Walk Chocolate Truffle any-day!
Nonetheless, there was a time when I delved into Mohanlal or Prasad bakery’s (Khade Bazar) burger and dough-nuts coupled with masala nuts on days when I’d miss my tiffin.
If Sharma’s Bhel and Ragda Patties was to die for until a few years ago, Kake Walk and Ambica have given them stiff competition. I shed a tear or two for Ganpat Bhelwala (New India Bhel House Kelkar bag) opposite Vanita Vidyalaya when his stall was demolished during the VKS. His Pav Bhaji and Vada Pav were to die for, not to forget the shev puri and bhel where he never compromised on the quantity of onion, shev and …mirchis! He once made delicious Bread Pakoda, but that somehow fizzled out. Pranaam (opposite Globe) and Prasahant(Congress Road) were our special hangouts while my brother was a kid since they served food even while we remained seated in the car! Of late, our favorite hangouts on tiring days have been Shrusti (opp. Kapileshwar) which offers great ambiance. They once offered WorldSpace radio which belted out amazing thematic songs while we gorged on luscious kulchas, paneer butter masala and chinese stuff.
Paratha Corner is a dream destination for what else..parathas, but I still prefer a take-away than sit-out at the eatery. Their mix veg and cheese parathas are a delight to dig into..a dream that should never end!. Another eatery that we tried but rarely returned was Paratha Palace, spicy stuff and thick parathas…the only dampener was the seating arrangements…on gravel with plastic garden chairs. Now a days, Atul Purohit’s street food stall has attracted me for its great shev puri and ragda patties. Some days, even Renuka Refreshments, Shanbhag (Sanyukta Maharashtra Chowk) and Satkaar(Maruti Galli) have seen me in…haplessly biting into some stuff.
Belgaum is still ages away from good Continental or Oriental food ( I’ve only tried Saffron yet), leave alone the deli or something innovative like Mumbai’s Not Just Jazz by the Bay or Delhi’s Yum Yum Tree or even Suhas and Deepa Avchat’s Goa Portuguesa. I think our city is ready for some culinary delights. The renovation spree may help some, but the real test of good food is always in the triumvirate of taste, hygiene and service. No compromise on that.
About the Author: Swatee Jog teaches at Bharatesh Global Business School, and her articles have been published in Mint, HT and DNA and she has also authored two books which are being published, one on management and one science book for kids.