Jayanagar is the part of South Bangalore that time forgot. Large bungalows and their silver haired proprietors – mostly retired government officials – are gently wasting away, while nearby, hyper-efficient dosamakers’ hands move rapidly in concentric circles, as if trying to make the clock move faster.
R Prabhakar’s 1983 Cafe Darshini (standing only restaurant, now shuttered) was one of the first South Indian snacks establishments in the neighbourhood, and gave rise to the phenomenon of the ubiquitous darshinis and dosa camps, which are quite unique to Jayanagar and its surrounding neighbourhoods. These are food carts covered with military green tarpaulin, famous for standard butter masala dosas, but have over the years, expanded their menus to offer numerous permutations of this crisp snack.
In this mini guide, we skip some of the more well-known dosa destinations to eat with Jayanagar’s insiders.
Ganesh Darshan aka Jayanagar Dosa Camp: The One That Started It All
Every dosa fan’s ‘once upon a time’ story will begin with this two-decade-old establishment. Ganesh Darshan was the first dosa camp in Jayanagar, starting out on the footpath and eventually growing into a brick-and-mortar shop bearing mosaic artwork of fruits and vegetables.
Ganesh Darshan’s dosa is a slick golden-brown crisp disc folded over a fistful of potato palya studded with onions and peas, which on first bite confirms the legend that it would cause traffic jams back in the day. Locals recommend the Banaras special, a spongier dosa topped with croutons seasoned with cashews, coconut shavings, sesame seeds. Not for the faint-hearted.
Getting there: Ganesh Darshan, 27th Cross Road, III Block, Jayanagar. Open between 7 am – 10.30 pm, Rs 35 each for a masala dosa and a Banaras dosa.
Davangere Benne Dosa Hotel: The One With The Spiciest Chutney
On Shanmughan’s camp fire, flabby, spongy dosas are cooked, rich with butter and filled with bland potato palya. What makes a visit here special is his intensely spicy coconut chutney prepared with ground green chillies that will send you running for the hills, also a strategy to get customers to order many cups of his sickly sweet coffee at the end.
Getting there: Davangere Benne Dosa Hotel, 118, 13th Main, 4th Block, Jayanagar. Open between 7 am – 9.30 pm, Rs 35 for a butter masala dosa.
Dosa Cart Near Kuchalamba Temple: The One With The Pink Dosa
“What’s your name?” we ask. “Name doesn’t matter, taste does. Place your order and if you must speak to me, call me Anna (elder brother).”
Here’s our brother from another mother, because anyone who can make a butter dosa like this one, we’ll gladly adopt as a relative. Anna’s specialty is vegetable dosa, rendered pink by the addition of pureed beetroot to the batter. The dosa here is thick and padded with juliennes of grated veggies, which would have been healthy had it not been smeared with so much butter.
During meal and snack times, this camp is so packed that Anna has hired a parking attendant to help your vehicle score a spot in the parallel lanes.
Getting there: Dosa Cart, adjacent to Kuchalambal Temple, 11th Main, 3rd Block, Jayanagar. Open between 5.30 pm – 10.30pm, Rs 30 for a vegetable dosa.
Davanagere Benne Dosa Camp: The One That Will Sober You Up
Depending on your time of visit, you will rub shoulders with old men grabbing breakfast, college students out for a snack or sozzled gentlemen attempting to line their stomachs before getting another large peg. Davanagere has got three kinds – the eponymously named dosa, an open version and an onion riff.
The bar hounds of Sabharwal Bar & Restaurant nearby swear by the onion dosa because it’s tasty, but also masks the smell of alcohol. We suggest averting your gaze when they’re adding the butter.
Getting there: Davanagere Benne Dosa Camp, 11th Main, Wilson Garden. Open between 7 am -10.30 am & 5 pm – 11 pm, Rs 35 for a butter masala dosa.
Sri Guru Kottureshwara Benne Dose Hotel: The Most Generous of Them All
The evidence of this establishment’s generosity with butter is proved by the translucence of the newspaper it is wrapped it. The roasted dosa is so gloriously greasy, John Travolta would sing a song about it. The plain potato palya and restrained chutney help balance things out a little.
Getting there: Sri Guru Kottureshwara Benne Dose Hotel, 49/1, SubbaRao Shetty Road, Netkallappa Circle, Basavanagudi. Open between 7.30 am – 1 pm & 4.30 pm – 11 pm, Rs 32 for a butter masala dosa.
Taaza Thindi: The One With The Cheapest Dosa
While this establishment isn’t technically a dosa camp, it deserves mention because the dosa costs only Rs 20 but it does come at a price. The rules are strict and must be adhered to: never fall out of line, no one can hold a place for you and no customised orders will be accepted, so pick from their seven items including idli, vada, khara bhath, kesari bhath, masala dosa, plain dosa and coffee. The roasted masala dosa glistens with ghee, crackles on first nudge to reveal the punch of lightly spiced potato and smear of pungent red chilli paste. Half way through, you might notice that these dosas are smaller than usual and decide you want another, but dismiss that thought and instead get a plate of kesari bhath with slivers of pineapple and plump raisins mixed in.
Getting there: Taaza Thindi, 1004, 26th Main Road, 4 T Block, Jayanagar. Open between 7 am -11.30 am & 4.30 pm -9.30 pm, Rs 15 for kesari bath and Rs 20 for masala dosa.
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