The Perfect South Indian Breakfast At VIDYARTHI BHAVAN | Bengaluru’s Iconic MASALA DOSA & TIFFIN


We’re in Basavangudi, Gandhi Bazaar in the heart of South Bengaluru. We are here to visit… …an eatery that has stood the test of time
for the last 75 years. What began as an eatery to cater to local students, now stands tall as a culinary institution… … and chances are the response might be
Vidyarthi Bhavan, and that’s where we are. We are here at Vidyarthi Bhavan to check out what a breakfast spread, or a tiffin spread… … at this Iconic institution is all about. Tiffin at Vidyarthi Bhavan usually involves a bit of a wait because it’s as popular as that. We’re here on a weekday so the waiting area that you see right behind me is not so crowded. But if you come on a weekend, chances are you’ll have to be prepared for a wait of 30 minutes to 45 minutes… … but then as I have always said, all good thing come to those who wait. So there’s the menu at Vidyarthi Bhavan. A short focused menu. They only do about seven or eight things and that’s what they’ve been doing for the last 75 years… … and of course because they’ve been doing it for the last 75 years, they do it so well. You see all the sketches on the wall. It’s great to see this sort of a gesture by this establishment to all the great luminaries… …who have made Karnataka what it is. I can smell the dosa, I can smell the poori sagu, my taste buds have gone into an overdrive right now… … just thinking about all the delicious food that I will be tasting in sometime. Namaskara. Namaskara. How are you doing? I’m fine. Thank you for having us over. So I’m with Arun Adiga who represents the third generation of the management here… … at Vidyarthi Bhavan. So Vidyarthi Bhavan is a culinary landmark
of sorts, right? 75 years is a long time for any establishment to be around and yet do so well! So what do you think is the reason why Vidyarthi Bhavan is as popular as it is? Thing is, actually nothing happened overnight, in fact when it was founded way back in 1943. I don’t think the initial founders would have thought of creating a milestone, just for a livelihood they started… … and found an oppurtunity to serve the student community… Okay. … and over a period of time, over the last seven and eight decades, I think it has grown slowly… … and established itself. Alright, and of course, what I really find fascinating here is, you’ve got, I was looking at your menu… … and you’ve got mainly seven or eight things that you serve at any given point in time. Yes. Exactly around six items. Okay. Some items are available only in the evening. Oh okay. Some are not available in the evening, only
in the morning. Alright. And Dosa is available all the time. Dosa is all the time. ATM. ATM, all the time masala dosa! Speaking of which, we’ve got the kitchen right there and I can see the… … dosa tawa at work, churning out Dosas. Can we go in and take a look? Let’s go into the kitchen at Vidyarthi Bhavan. This is the iconic Vidyarthi Bhavan Masala Dosa stack. I think this is a visual that everybody
identifies Vidyarthi Bhavan with. So how did this whole concept of stacking dosas like this begin? I believe, I understand way back about some 30-40 years back, one waiter, supplier, came out with this idea. Oh wow! Instead of walking in from the table to the kicthen, to and fro many times to carry two or three dosas… … then he came up with a novel idea of stacking one above the other and serving one lot. Because a supplier serves four tables here so everyone would have ordered a dosa… … so by the time he moves and comes back again for two or three dosas, this one would be over roasted… … or that one would have been colder. So he came up with the Idea of stacking one above the other. Right now it’s become a practice and any supplier who joins here, get’s trained. In carrying the Dosas like that? It’s an art so that the heat of the plate will not transfer to the hand. He has to carry it at an angle. Oh okay. If he just places it over the hand, he gets burnt. You know I’m seeing all these dosas with the palya, with some butter there. What makes the Vidyarthi Bhavan
dosas so special? Basically what everybody uses in a dosa is rice, lentils everything, but it’s the proportion and different… … variants of rice, what we use. The proportions what we mix and how it is prepared. As you notice, our dosas are a little different than the others why? Because it’s almost thick like a pizza base. Correct it’s thick. Yes, but crispier also and softer inside. Yes. We have a unique way of making this, it’s not thin like the dosas you get elsewhere. So this is how it has been followed over the years and we continue to maintain the same consistency. So is there any recipe that’s guarded with regards to the batter, the palya? The proportion of how we mix and how we do… Is guarded? … is a system, that is what we follow and a new person is also trained for that. Alright. Idli, Vada and Sambar is only available in the morning menu. Oh okay. Not available in the evening. And why is that? See, basically a typical South Indian Breakfast without Idli it’s not there. Typically what we have in the morning. Again the in the evening it doesn’t move much, as I told you earlier people mind is already set… … to the Dosa here, they have different places to eat different items, especially South Bangalore… I think people are blessed, because almost every other road has a speciality restaurant. How many people do you have visiting
Vidyarthi Bhavan on a daily basis? On a weekday, on an average it’s about 1500 people. On a weekday, 1500 people. Wow! During weekend it goes beyond 2000 to 2200. Wow! And this is the kitchen that produces all that food fresh for every order that walks in? Yes. Fascinating, Fascinating! So sometimes you don’t need that space, I think you just need that experience of doing things. So tell me, when you serve the Dosa here you don’t serve sambar with it right? No. Basically because sambar is available only in the morning and during afternoon when we open… … again we have Vada Sambar. Oh okay! That time when they request extra we give it in a cup. Otherwise by default dosa is with chutney. And is there a reason? Basically, dosa is always with chutney. It was North Indians and people from Tamil Nadu started… … giving sambar with dosa. Otherwise, dosa and chutney is the combination. Alright. So I didn’t know that, so apparently, dosa and chutney is the actual combination in Karnataka. Sambar only came later. Due to popular
requests I guess. Saagu for the Poori, the Khara Bath and the Kesari Bath. That makes it a grand menu of six which caters to 1500 people on a weekday… … and over 2000 people on a weekend. Fascinating! So coffee at Vidyarthi Bhavan is another must-have tradition for customers who come here. We also have tea, but basically, our focus is on coffee. Okay. People who want tea even that is available. Basically, the coffee is brewed freshly every… … now and then. I’m also told that you brew the coffee decoction here every hour. Every almost half an hour to one hour, based on how the movement is, so it’s freshly made and being used. So I’m here with Mr Ramakrishna Adiga,
father of Arun Adiga… .. who I guess is the pillar, who’s built
Vidyarthi Bhavan… We didn’t even have an idea that it would become this famous. We began this as a means of livelihood. You began this for livelihood. The public has trusted us. They have this belief that we will provide them with what they want… … with this trust, they come regularly. Lovely! Nowadays, people with such establishments have started so many branches… … some of them have started 5 branches, 10 branches and some even have 20 to 30 branches. Quality is our main focus, so one restaurant is enough for us. We don’t need to create another one. The public will come here. They come knowing that they will get good quality food. If we open more branches, we will not be able to concentrate there. What will happen is, the quality will go down and we won’t be able to keep up. Then what will happen is it will run well for a few days and then it will fall. If you want this Masala Dosa, If you want the Idli Vada from here, you have to come to… … Vidyarthi Bhavan, Basvangudi, Gandhi Bazaar only. So having explored the Vidyarthi Bhavan Kitchen in its entirety, from the dosas to idli, to the vadas, the poori… … the khara bath and the kesari bath, I can’t wait to get to the table and taste what breakfast or a tiffin meal… … at Vidyarthi Bhavan is all about. So let’s go to the table and check out a meal at Vidyarthi Bhavan. I can’t wait to begin tasting the dishes here at Vidyarthi Bhavan, and of course, they only do six dishes… … so it’s not going to be that extended a tasting, but I’m looking forward to tasting six delicious breakfast… … dishes here at Vidyarthi Bhavan. Idli, Vada, Poori, Chow Chow Bath, Masala
Dosa, Plain Dosa. Get me one of each Item. We’ve ordered for the Idli, the Vada, the Masala Dosa which is of course world famous… … right here in Vidyarthi Bhavan and also
the Saagu Masala Dosa. Then you have the Chow Chow bath. Now the Chow Chow bath is a combination of a Khara Bath and a Kesari Bath. The Khara Bath being spicy, savoury and the Kesari Bath being sweet, and of course, you have the Poori Sagu. I’m going to start with the Idli Sambar. As I cut into this idli I can make out this Idli is soft. Can’t wait to dig into this Idli. Mmmh! The idli literally melts in your mouth having absorbed all that sambar. The sambar has this intense savoury flavour that’s a combination of sweet and tart. I suspect the sweetness comes from a bit of jaggery that gets added to the sambar… … and then you have the tartness of the tomatoes that makes its presence felt. This is a sort of idli sambar that will just
melt in your mouth. Mmmh! Taste the chutney by itself. So this is not a thick chutney, this is a chutney that’s quite runny in its texture. But it packs that spicy punch, you can taste that chilli right at the back of your throat. I’m going to take a bit of the Idli sambar and dunk it… …into the chutney here and get a bit of the chutney too in this bite. This is going to be a savoury, spicy, slightly tart and sweet sort of a bite. Tastes so good. The idli magically disappears in your mouth, it literally melts in your mouth. And all that it leaves behind is the savouriness… … is the tangy, slightly sweet spice hit of the sambar and the chutney. It’s delicious. I should go for my Uddina Vada now. So typically people will come to Vidyarthi Bhavan… … and maybe order one idli, one vada because the main act for them is the Masala Dosa. Of course, I’ve gone overboard because I wanted to taste all these dishes for you, our viewer who’s… …watching out there. You have that grainy crunch of the vada, but because the vada is dunked into the sambar… … it’s soft and porous insides have soaked up all the goodness of the sambar. Delicious! Take some of the vada and dunk it into the chutney. This vada had been dipped in a sambar
and chutney bath. Mmmh! The chutney may be runny in its texture but it packs that robust… This poori has been waiting here for a bit. The poori and the vegetable, the saagu. So this is another special dish here at Vidyarthi Bhavan, the Poori Saagu. The saagu is basically… … a combination of various vegetables. Mmhm! So I’m told there are five or six vegetables that go into this saagu. Everything from beans, a bit of carrot… … some brinjal, some sweet pumpkin. So it’s not like you can break down the vegetables that are there in your saagu… … as you’re tasting them. They all come together into one, tasty vegetable mash. Mmmh! The other way to eat the Poori Saagu is with a bit of vegetable and also dunk it… … into that chutney which is nicely tempered here with the mustard seeds, the curry leaves… … and I’m sure a copious amount of chilli that’s gone into the chutney. Lovely! Mmmh! The chilli in the chutney gets you in the back of the throat each time. Mmmh! This is so good, so good! Next we’re going to taste the Chow Chow Bath, which is a typical Kannada concoction… … which is a combination of two, so you have the Khara Bath, which is the spicy version and then… … you have the Kesari Bath, which is the sweet version. So I’m going to start with the Khara Bath. So you can see some of the vegetables that have gone in. There’s certainly some carrot there is some curry leaf as well, some onions that you can see… … and of course the seasoning, the tempering of the rai or the mustard seeds. Mmmh! This is a savoury bite so you’ve got the texture of the vegetables that you bite into… … so I definitely bit into the carrot and then you have the crunch of the onion. It’s kind of like a rice preparation but made with semolina, made with suji, with rava. Dunk it in a bit of chutney, I think the Khara Bath is tasty enough to be savoured on this own… … but if you want a spicy, coconutty, chilli
sort of a twist… … you’ve got the chutney here that you can also dunk your Khara Bath into. Mmmh! That chutney gets me with its spicy kick each time but it’s delicious. It’s almost addictive in a manner of speaking. What’s interesting is that this chutney is a little thicker in texture as opposed to the… … one that I got with my Idli Vada. I’m told it’s specifically kept so, so that it goes well with the dosa. The chutney that I had with my Idli Vada… … is diluted somewhat so it goes well with the Idli Vada, but because the Dosa is slightly blander… … you want a spicy chutney to lift the flavours. I am going to have a bit more of the Khara Bath and dunk it into a bit more of the chutney. … to just wash away some of that spice. This Kesari Bath is liberally studded with toasted cashew. I can taste the clove that’s used to flavour it, and also bits of pineapple… … that gives it that zing of acidity, and of course this Kesari Bath is cooked in a copious amount of ghee. Which makes it so tasty. There’s a strand of the pineapple right here, and what the pineapple does is that it gives, it breaks the monotony… … of the sweetness of the dish of this palate and brings in that refreshing acidity… … and the cashew gives it that textural layer, and that toastiness that you get from the roasted cashew. So I have two Masala Dosas here, they may look similar, but they are not. This one is the Saagu Masala Dosa. So you’ve got the vegetables, the saagu that the dosa is stuffed with, and then you have the… … Masala Dosa with the aloo gadde palya. The more typical, the more traditional Masala Dosa here. I’m going to wait for the chutney that will get poured over the Masala Dosa here… …which is a tradition here at Vidyarthi Bhavan. The dosa here is roasted to a crisp, you can, you can hear the crackle of the dosa. I’m going to taste the Saagu Dosa first. Mmmh! The dosa is crackling crisp on the outside but it’s soft on the inside… …that’s the unique aspect of this Vidyarthi Bhavan Dosa. Mmmh! There’s also a bit of the tartness that comes from the fermentation of the batter. I love the texture of this dosa, and as you progress towards the centre of the dosa… … it starts getting softer, it’s nice and crunchy around the edges, crisp around the edges… … and as you work your way towards the centre of the dosa, it gets softer. Mmmh! And that spice from the chutney works so well with the dosa and the saagu. In fact, this Saagu Masala Dosa that you have here at Vidyarthi Bhavan, I prefer my… … Masala Dosa with the aloo gadde palya, but with this saagu that you have in the Masala Dosa here… … you literally don’t miss the aloo gadde palya. As you can see the restaurant is empty. It’s past closing time and they have graciously agreed to let us film even beyond closing hours… … of course the good thing this is that we have the restaurant all to ourselves now. We’ll try the more traditional Masala Dosa, and this is the one with the aloo gadde palya. I’m going to go right into the centre. I’ve got this nice big bite! Mmmh! This is a very unique dosa, in a sense that it’s roasted, it’s roasted to a crisp… … yet you taste the soft inside of the dosa. I think it takes a tremendous amount of skill and experience to roast a dosa like this. Best way to eat a Masala Dosa always is to go into the centre, get a nice bite of the dosa… … get all that potato, dunk it into a bit of the chutney and enjoy it. So the dosa and the palya are not too spicy but the chutney combines well with it to give it that spicy punch. You have the crunch and you bite into the softness of the dosa and then the palya and the chutney Fresh Filter Coffee at Vidyarthi Bhavan. I think Vidyarthi Bhavan is not just a mere eatery, but a culinary institution that has stood the test of time… … for the last 75 years and in doing so, it offers a delicious glimpse of history and brings it to the present… …in the form of all the culinary traditions that have been kept alive, that have been preserved over the decades… … and these traditions find their way to your plate in the form of the delicious dishes that are on offer… … at Vidyarthi Bhavan. They may number only six or eight, but they go deep into the traditions that makes… … and defines Namma Bengaluru. So if you want a glorious yet delicious slice of Namma Bengaluru’s history, make sure… …you step into Vidyarthi Bhavan right here in Basavanagudi and savour what this timeless culinary… …establishment has to offer. Until the next episode of Gourmet On The Road, stay safe and happy eating. Or drinking! If you enjoyed this video, don’t forget to subscribe, share and leave a comment. If you’d like to support Food Lovers TV, do log onto foodlovers.in and hit the Support Food Lovers banner. Links in the description below, happy eating!

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