The only known Karnataka restaurant serving home-style food of the Brahmin community.
it is in the homely market that used to be Grandlay Cinema. Brick flooring, an open kitchen, cooks from villages in South Karnataka, prices so low as to be laughable and an owner who is in his restaurant from morning to night, going to every table and interacting with each guest: Carnatic Café is the proverbial jackpot that every diner dreams of hitting. It is owned by a Kannada Brahmin lad of the Madhva mutth. In contrast to, say, the Shankaracharya mutth, whose leader travelled about the entire country, Shri Madhvacharya kept his travels within the state, so that there is much less inter-state influence on the food. The saar (rasam) is not mouth-puckeringly so, the spice comes from Bedgi chillies ‘imported’ from Karnataka and don’t burn your palate, even the sweet does not scream.
Table talk: the brief menu won’t be intelligible to anyone who doesn’t speak Kannada: paddu (Rs 115) is paniharam of a Tamil menu, ragi roti (Rs 150) is chocolate brown and is a low glycemic index grain, and the names of the rice dishes are all novel. There is a set meal that won’t break the bank at Rs 160 that serves rice (Sona Masuri variety, unknown in Delhi), a rice papad, a ginger and jaggery chutney, two dry vegetables with grated coconut (a tempered palya and an un-tempered kosambri), one coconut based gravy vegetable (koot), one saar (rasam in Tamil) and a vada. The largest variety on the menu exists in the dosa section. Half a centimeter thick, it is eaten by people who work in the fields and who need sustenance for hours together. I tried the Malleshwaram 18th Cross (Rs 130) served with three types of chutney and saar. The inside of the dosa is smeared with a delicious spice mixture and a bit of pure ghee.
Plus and minus: Carnatic Café would be a novelty even in Bangalore. The community whose food it features is not known for running businesses, so if you want to sample it, your choices are severely limited. Most places are in the interiors of Malleshwaram in Bangalore and are hardly cool or trendy. Carnatic Café bucks that trend for sure. And the best filter coffee in South Delhi for sure.
Must try: Bite-sized paddu, ragi mudde (served on Sunday afternoons) and super-sized rava idlis.
Ground floor, India Mall, Batra Cinema Bldg, Community Centre, New Friends Colony
Ph: 011 41008630, 0880222288
Open from 9 am to 10.30 pm
Credit cards accepted; no alcohol served.
Meal for two: Rs 350