Belagavi, known for its prodigious and diverse food palette, is popping with restaurant concepts today that are changing its culinary landscape. The city has always been adventurous with its food, embracing street food with as much fervor as restaurant’s fine-dining experience. We have come a long way in this voyage of choices for the palate. The evolution is remarkable, only a few years back Belagavi had a different landscape when it came to food.
We believe it all started with the Paranjape’s Faralache Dukan which served Sheera which was made in pure ghee and people from all classes used to throng the place.
Adinarayan Khanawal, Elite, Madhavashram, Karnatak Club, New Grand, Suvarna Mandir, Ajanta were options for the hungry working men.
Badshahi was famous for its Biryani, Shettuppa for mutton and Sangita for its kheema then and we also have the Khyber and Regal. Fresh homely food we can say, was served here.
There were also options for the fine dine though like the Gulmohar at Anupam and Milan hotel. The choices, though few, were mouth watering.
Belagavi’s culinary journey has since evolved into a refined smorgasbord of eclectic choices in between, with Home Style, Fast Casual Restaurant, to Star restaurants to new takeaways store concepts to Food trucks gaining ground. This together with a change in the mindset of the populace who today prefer to eat out and have a ball has brought Belagavi to the fore of the culinary map.
You name the cuisine and we have it from regular Veg Thali to Non Veg Thali or the Gurjati Thali or North Karnataka special thali to Fish delicacies. Momos are no more parvenu to this city nor is Thai curry or Malaysian or Indonesian cuisine. Street food to fine dining the city has it all and the entire culinary experience is up for some great gastronomical change.
Earlier we had select restaurants, which one could count on the hand, now we have the same number on one street.
With the entry of Fairfield Marriott and UK27 the find dining experience has got a grandeur to add to it we also have the Star Chef restaurants such as Sura vie and Grain of Salt of Chef Sanjeev Kapoor.
Niyaaz, which pioneered itself in home delivery has now extended itself to open some theme restaurants like Chi.
The healthy food concept is on the rise and Farm to Fork made its entry here with a range of healthy measured treats. Different salads with different dressings each day.
From the one time small family mess which have been making good business over the years, My Lunch box is a new entrant which now delivers home cook soul food, which is simple and it has a menu ready for the entire month.
Food trucks have also made their presence felt and now about 10 food trucks serve various dishes all across the city.
Savaji Food, Maharastrian, Konkani, Malvani non veg cuisine is served mainly by the small eateries which are basically small family run outlets. Each one is has a different palate and for each one Belagavi has the food.
Bakery business is also seeing a change from the regular cakes and puffs to wide range of breads, pastries, cakes, salads, tarts, mousse and what not. The Home baker side is also picking up with 25+ home bakers giving a tough fight to the big old daddies in baking industry.
The Irani & Parsi cafes and food are on the decline but they to have a presence in the food arena.
One more specialty other than Kunda is the hundreds of varieties of Biryanis that are made here. Each one has his/her own recipe including the home cooks. We even have newer styles like the bamboo biryani served here now. Every Belagaviite has his own personal favorite and no two persons will agree; Tinwala, Khyber, Zuber, Charminar, Niyaz, Master chef and the list goes on and on. Each one caters to different taste and clientele.
The craving for Fish has also seen a huge rise in the restaurants from Meat n eat, Fish Land and small home style eateries serve lip smacking fish food. Hotel La Camp serves some great Fish Tandori and Prawns Biryani too.
Added to these are the fast food chains like McDonald’s, KFC, Subway which give a fast food experience to those who want to grab a quick bite.
Speaking of fast food the palates of Belagavi would not be satisfied without the many spicy tangy chaat shops that have cropped up all over the city, so many new chaats will set your taste buds into extreme excitement, Ambika, Balus to just name a few. Delhi Chaat started out with some great North Indian chaats but soon closed, much to the chagrin of the Belagaviites.
The Vada Pav, Mirchi Bhajji, Onion Bhajji served at small outlets and canteens is a feast just like the Usal Bread at Himalaya or Misal.
Small mess run by a single family near colleges have blossomed due to the number of students from outside. Even here the mess cater to all kinds of cuisines from Maharashtra, North Karnataka to even Kerala and Andhra style.
Shahapur area has had its own share of culinary exotica with Gajanan Mithaiwala who pioneered the art of making fresh Kunda (in a small kitchen adjacent to his shop) and Jalebis. The Marwadi Kachori at Shahapur is to die for, and is still much sought after with people waiting at the large cauldron, for the kachoris to turn golden. Café Aram used to be a place where the Shahapur Sarafs met and hung out between spurts of business. Shahapur also had its fair share of Alapak and Sugarcane juice stalls that got a modern twist with Cane Point offering organic and clean juice. Small bye lanes in Belagavi offer some of the best stuff, like Kelkar bag has its Gawde’s wada pav stalls and Anantshayan Galli known for Shambhavi’s missal.
When we just had Imperial, Kaveri, Bharat and Royal for Ice creams, we are now spoilt for choice when it comes to ice creams. Naturals got us hooked to real ice cream and Polar Bear changed the scene. Amrut, Icreberg tried to offer something different but it was Fruitogen that awed us all with its Nitrogen infused ice creams.
The city also has this novel idea of Food box, where extra food can be stored and the needy can pick up.
We are however proud of our culture which is a unique mix of Maharashtra and north Karnataka and there are several new Kolhapuri and Rotti restaurants which have also came up to give us a retro feel.
Nalpaak, Charaka Mess offer Jowar rotti-Brinjal bhaji stuff, that is a craving for those fed up of the chapatti fare in most hotels. The Lingayat messes add much required relief if you are bored of daily routine. We bet these will give stiff competition to the buffets like Barbeque nation and the Native. All in all Belagavi is the place to be if you want to treat your taste buds.
Give your taste buds the orgasm they crave for, Belagavi has it all!.
With inputs from Dr. Madhav Prabhu, Swatee Jog and Photos courtesy Belgaum Foodies.