(I went to Siddique’s for the first time on June 7th, 2013. Don’t ask me why I remember the date. And I’ve been there a few times since. This post has been been long overdue.)
I don’t know who coined the term “food walk” and I can be quite snobbish about all things food, like that. For one, I have a strong aversion to the word “foodie”. Also, terms like “food blog” and “food blogger”. I’ve taken to referring to myself as a food enthusiast, if I really need to (which, as it turns out, I don’t and I quite like that). I like eating and cooking interesting food. Thug Menon keeps calling me posh and himself a ghaati, every time we end up talking about food. And I had a hard time convincing him he’s as much of a “food enthusiast” as I am. The only difference possibly is that he doesn’t cook half as much as I do. I wish he hadn’t put the idea of it being a “food walk” in my head, that time we went to Siddiqui’s. I need to think of a better phrase to describe setting out randomly to discover a new food place and having a bunch of fun in the process. I do.
I’d been nursing severe back pain and an occasional fever for a couple of weeks. June 7th, I wrapped up my tasks for the day, at work and asked Menon to come with me to dinner. We would’ve taken Yashings, but he’s quite the pseudo-non-vegetarian like that. Boneless meat. Preference for chicken. All that. And I needed some cow in my system. That was the only thing, I figured, that’d make me feel good that Friday night. Turns out, beef in India is buffalo because y’know… cow… Hindu… (whatever)
Ever since I moved to Bangalore in January, Bharath had said I should visit the beef kabaab stalls behind Johnson’s Market. I finally did.
(In case you have trouble finding it, here are a few landmarks that might help. Most people in Bangalore would probably know where Plan B is. Castle Street. So, there’s a main road – Hosur Road, where Castle Street is a little side-lane… You go down Hosur Road, towards Bannerghatta, and there’s a shady-ish restaurant called Tom’s, adjacent to Fatima Bakery to your left. To your right, then, is Fanoos. You take the left lane, just after Fanoos and that’s the lane that leads you to Siddique’s. You’re welcome.)
They had everything, from Bombay Beef Rolls and Seekh Kabaabs to Phal and it was all priced between Rs 40/- and Rs 60/- a plate.
I’d never had Bombay Beef Rolls, so we ordered one each. They were essentially beef kabaabs stuffed in a roomali roti with some onions, wrapped tightly and then (more or less) deep fried. The downside is that they serve stuff with ketchup. Of course, you can tell them not to, but you’ve got to be quick or there’s your beef roll all Gujju-cized.
(The beef rolls are what you see on the right, in this picture. They were picked out of the tray and laid out on a tawa and fried, before they were served.)
We also ordered some phal, which I’d always thought was a lot like haleem, in consistency, but with chunkier meat and more masala. Turns out, I was right. And wrong.
So, here’s what I thought we’d get when we ordered phal (and we were taking some to-go, so I ordered a couple of roomali rotis):
(and an utterly pleased owner because I asked for permission before I took the picture and he asked, in turn, for permission if he could be part of the picture)
We also got a plate of idiyapams packed along with some masala beef (which is the greasy, masaledaar, phal-but-not-phal thing you see in the second picture) and a plate of beef kabaabs. AND a couple of boti kabaab wraps for the road (which was essentially not more than 6 kilometres of a drive home, but I was starved and in dire need of TLC and one guy was giving me all the attention and food I needed that evening).
The verdict, really, is that the food is brilliant as long as you stand in that dingy lane, outside their little shop and eat it hot off the tawas and the skewers. The food doesn’t quite taste as awesome (and the experience is nowhere close) if you get the food home and microwave it before you eat it.
On our way out (and to my car), we stopped by at Cafe Makkah to drink some Harira. That was a bit of a confusing moment because (again) I’d assumed it’d be some kind of chick pea stew, because that’s what I had been told it was and that’s what I had also read on the internet. Turns out, it was milk, flavoured heavily with ground almonds and spices and very sweet. So, when the thug asked for one “portion” of it (because we didn’t quite know what to ask for), the owner of the restaurant looked at us and almost laughed. So we went ahead and got ourselves two half glasses. It wasn’t half bad, to be honest. But it just wasn’t what I was hoping to have that night.
My back ache took a few weeks of physiotherapy to get cured and I haven’t worked out since. Needless to say, I’ve also put on a few kilos of mass. Sigh. Life can be tough, sometimes, no?
Menon and I went to Siddique’s again one time later and pretty much ate all of the same stuff. And I’d love to go again. To Siddique’s. With him. Because nobody else eats cow (oops, buffalo) or understands my need for rowdy (roady?) food as much as he does.
It’s not unsafe, really… but if you’re a girl, you’d rather just take a guy friend along.