Those who love their mudde will swear allegiance to the doughy ball of no taste! And those who don’t, there is hope yet, with this brightly coloured, swanky, new-age, tradition-touting naati café inspired by the yester-year military messes of the Tipu Sultan era. It’s soul food that has seen local foodies stand in line for decades at the oldest military hotels across the city (read Shivaji Military Hotel and Maratha Darshini) licking their lips in anticipation of the delicious robust meal ahead. If you’re already drooling, read on. Here comes donne biryani and mudde with mutton chops Masala, in this refreshing as a summer’s breeze, colourfully interiored yellow chaired, bright and perky cafe with happy vibes called Masala Oota on Hayes Road thanks to owner Shruthika Prakash and her team of local cooks.
The naati cafe serves local fare only! This made us smile at once… it’s where namma Oota meets namma modern cafe, which is great for the office-going crowd in and around the Central Business District, and for homes and hungry hudugas and hudugis.
Shruthika Prakash, whose father is from Mysore and husband from Bengaluru, has grown up with traditional fare and decided to make it easily available in a swanky small cafe instead of the more plebeian mess, and she hit upon a trend that is fast taking foodie circles by jowl - celebrating regional cuisine in its simplicity, with local taste trails.
We of course, started with the ragi mudde and mutton chops. Order at the counter, pay and wait to be served. We started with the Vasanta Neeru, a tender coconut lemonade, from the Kaveri belt, it was refreshing, with mint. The ragi mudde was perfect, hot, sticky and wholesome, and the mutton chops in the green coriander and pudina gravy had us eating way too fast and with much gusto. Delicious, not too oily like the messes around, and very home cooked. We could have liked it piping hot with more gravy to dunk our happy mudde into, but that apart, it’s a must have. Oh, and some ghee, onions and cucumber to go, please.
The donne biryani comes in the original leafy donne. With raita… Again, the biryani was good, flavourful in its spiced tenets, with tender mutton pieces, succulent and yum. A nice saaru accompanying it would have be better, like it’s served elsewhere… It is a favourite, says Shruthika.
The akki roti came next, dressed in coriander and onion, delicious, if slightly too thick for the local akki eater on the table… We ordered the fish fry and the famed ghee roast chicken alongside. In terms of flavour, the ghee roast masala was just delectable: not too spiced and with the masala blended well into the chicken. The meat was a bit dry though… we’d also have liked more of the masala, which is to die for. The fish fry was very ordinary, a tad overcooked and the marinade didn’t meet expectations either.
In terms of thindi, or tea time snacks, there is a whole barrage of favourites here, the chilli bhajji, nipattu bhel, congress bun, mutton and chicken lapa and even paddu and keema wada. There’s fish curry and dum biryani too, in a succinct and to the point menu. We spotted our favourite filter and bella coffee, which we shall have soon, as the café in its wooden tables, tiled floors, perky yellow chairs, bright paintings, flowery cupboards and air of summer is on our list of quick meals.
“We are a local naati café, with a focus on cuisine from different areas, from Mangalore, Mysore, etc, essentially local bites from Karnataka in an informal, café atmosphere. It’s the kind of food that is not accessible to people, and surprisingly, many of our repeat customers (they have been open only since February 1!) think that Karnataka food is only vegetarian… and are surprised to find mutton chops, etc. We also serve combos of biryani and chicken and will be doing non veg and veg specials, like a seafood special, etc,” says Shruthika, who incidentally is also a designer and has given this place a very kitschy feel.
Clean, informal and refreshing to find traditional food in an untraditional café-like ambience, this is for those who relish local fare… and don’t want to stand in line at messes, and it’s also priced reasonably… with a welcoming staff. We would liked to see some thalis on the menu, so one has a selection of all dishes (yes, greedy we are, but small eaters). For regular local foodies, this is a must-try. We are going for tea next, and also going to taste their specials. But the mudde and chops in a chic space must be had. Traditionalists might miss the whole romance and bustle of the military mess aroma, as the food is ready to serve here, mostly. But mudde you must!
12/1, Hayes Road, off St. Marks road, Behind Devatha Plaza, Below Orchid Suites, Shanthala Nagar, Ashok Nagar, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560025
12.30 pm to 11 pm
Call: 4854 3377
Meal for two: Rs 600
Must-haves: Ragi mudde and chops and the donne biryani. Ghee roast too.