Since I am going to be moving out of Bangalore in another 2 weeks (at least temporarily), I thought I would dedicate the next 2 weeks of posts to my thoughts on leaving this city where I have spent a good 25 yrs (out of 27 yrs of my existence in this world).
For a start, I am desperately going to miss the Darshini eating joints that dot the Bangalore landscape. Any area worth its salt in this city would have to have at least one Darshini whose reputation goes well beyond its Municipal Corporation limits.
The fact that there are so many of these good veggie eating joints here where one can step in at almost anytime of the day between 7 AM and 10 PM and expect to get hot, piping, idli-vadas with sambar and chutney. While you are at it, you can also grab a quick hot filter coffee (with the decoction coming out of a hot canister, and milk in customized quantities).
Not too sure if any other city has these many of these Darshinis around. While I am aware that Chennai and the rest of Tamil Nadu has their own version of the Darshinis in the form of Tea Kadais and Tea Stalls where Masala Vadas are more the staple food rather than idlis, I prefer the Bangalore style of functioning where at tables are provided, rather than wooden benches at it is in TN.
This post also inspired me to Google for “darshini culture bangalore” and I came up with this interesting article in a site called Discover Bangalore. Went through the article and thought rather than cross-link it here, I would rather reproduce it in its entirety. So here goes:
It’s like the Starbucks or the McDonalds of America or the Tim Hortons of Canada. The Darshinis of Bangalore have come to stay. The fast food outlets dishing out hot crunchy Masala Dose, soft idlis, crispy Vade and hot piping coffee are all over Bangalore now. Bangalore literally has thousands of Darshinis under several individual managements serving south Indian vegetarian food. They usually are identified with small round steel tables and diners standing around them eating Dosas, idlis, vada’s, curd rice, Vegetable Pulao, rice with sambar, lemon rice, Bisibele bath, Uppittu, kesaribaath and coffee.
The low-cost and “on the go” breakfast and lunch are a big hit among all class of people and it is hard to find any good quality Darshini that is not overcrowded by the day.
It is well known that the Darshini culture was introduced by one Mr. Prabhakar in 1983. Inspired by the fast food chains abroad, he started the first darshini called ‘Cafe Darshini’ in Jayanagar. The success of Café Darshini saw the proliferation of several darshinis and the many existing coffee bars renaming themselves into some Darshini. Wikepedia calls Mr. R.Prabhakar as Darshini Brahma , since he started the concept of Darshini and made the cost of food afordable to the General public. It is learnt that there are over 5000 Darshini’s in the city itself. There are several Darshinis which have maintained a good quality of food using fresh and quality ingredients. Some of the well known Darshinis are Upahara Darshini in Netkalappa Circle Basavanagudi, Ganesh Darshini in Jayanagar, Palahara Darshini.
While most of the Darshinis serve only south Indian vegetarian food, some metamorphosed Chinese food to suit the Indian palate by introducing everything from the original gobi to the latest mixed-vegetable Manchurian, and even they have thrived. One wonders whether it is the name “Darshini” that brings success or the food they serve. Even the entry of multinationals like McDonalds, KFC or Pizza Hut has not been able to shake the popularity of the Darshinis.
The secret for the success of the Darshinis is the quick tasty bite one gets which is also easy on their wallet. Darshinis also have become popular hangout joints for office goers, college students or for that matter to anyone for a quick bite and a hot cup of Coffee and gossip.
Some of the these fast food joints adhere to strict guidelines from the BMP like the staff wearing head gear and aprons and the hotel cooks wearing caps. Darshinis have also been instructed to install ultraviolet water filters with Bureau of Indian Standards seals, to supply drinking water for their customers. Their Kitchens are to be cleaned with lime wash and colour wash every three months and the process is to be recorded in the inspection book. The guidelines also stipulate that garbage should be stored in a covered dustbin while the vegetables, grains and other provisions as well as the prepared food, should be separately stored. The note adds that tables and chairs in these eateries and hotels should be kept scrupulously clean. Thus one can eat in peace at these darshinis without the fear of unhygienic food or unclean premises.
The next time you visit Bangalore, give your epicurean taste buds a treat at one of the popular Darshini’s and you would never be eating the south Indian vegetarian dishes anywhere else.
Long live the Darshini Culture that has vowed to feed the average man with tasty food without pinching his pocket much. And the credit goes to Bangalore as no other city in India has popularized this model.
Now if any native Bangalorean says that he does not miss the Darshinis, you know for sure that he is lying through his teeth.