Elsewhere on this blog, in a different post, a reader had commented about Veena Stores in Malleshwaram. When yours truly was passing by the place, it struck a tiny bell. However, due to circumstances, I could not stop to check out the place. Managed to take a pic, though. From first impressions, the place – no more than a hole in the wall, it appeared – strikes you at first go as a) it attracts customers from all strata of society – from the arriviste / nouveau riche right down to the humble daily wage earner, as represented by the SUV and the bicycle in the pic below and b) patrons seemed content to stand outside, oblivious to the heat, dust and passing traffic, sporting very satisfied looks as they ate!
Obviously, it called for a repeat visit. And that opportunity came by during the previous Saturday when your’s truly made it a point to stop and visit this well known and highly recommended place.
Apparently, the store began, way back in 1977, selling ‘condiments’ – murukkus and the like. You can still buy them here. Along the way, they have transistioned into becoming the forerunner of today’s darshini’s. The storefront is no more than 8 feet ( my math is highly suspect!) with 2 feet reserved for the counter dispensing coupons. Once you buy them, you fight, almost tooth and claw, for space along the balance 6 feet to hand them over to 2 to 3 people inside dispensing the goodies. Evidently, they are specialists. How else do they ensure that the right items are given to the right people, from among a clamouring horde, is beyond me. Throw in the fact that all are hungry as hell!
With the store being on a one way street with ‘no-parking’ strictly enforced, traffic cops merrily cruise by and spirit two wheelers from right under the noses of blissfully engaged diners. Yours truly missed – by the proverbial whisker – his trusty two wheeler being snatched. God bless the kind soul who warned me about the arrival of the cops.
Many reasons apparently account for the popularity of the place. Price, of course, is the redeeming one. I had a plate of idli/vada, shavige baath, kesari baath ( yup, I was hungry, folks!) accompanied by piping hot coffee. All of it dented my purse by merely 30 odd bucks. Not bad all all, I would reckon. I recall, with justifiable rage, having a plate of vadas in a five star hotel that dared to charge 60 bucks each!
The idli was hot, super soft and really melted in the mouth. I’d read somewhere that the dough is made the traditional way using stone rollers. Nothing much to recommend about the vadas though they were super hot and crispy. I’ve had better vadas in some darshinis. Strangely, at Veena Stores, they don’t dispense sambar here, only chutney. The latter is in a way, unlimited.. you ask for it as much as you want and I guess, as many times as you want! Also, I found the taste of pudina in the chutney very unique! The shavige baath too was absolutely divine with a touch of lime, some peanuts and plenty of seasoning. Unfortunately, chutney is dumped into it which, in my opinion, robs it of its taste. Now for the coupe de grace. It has to be the kesari baath. Neither too sweet nor overloaded with ghee and the rava being cooked just right, it was truly manna from heaven. The only disappointment was the coffee, I would say. Too strong for my taste and with sugar almost being rationed! Next time, I’m going to have myself the Vaangibaath and Chowchow baath, for sure.
All in all, if you are around 15th Cross, Malleshwaram, don’t even hesitate to stop at Veena Stores to savour the experience. Here are some pics from my visit.