The Woodlands’ thali must be something of a classic. I think this was the first restaurant meal Suresh treated me to in Bangalore! All vegetarian, dibs and dabs and neverending refills. This is one of the two major restaurant business formats that has been duplicated with incredible success. Sambar, rice,  dry veggies with coconut, rasam, pappads, salad, raita–finished with a plain paan. This is the *one* style of meal I remember most from my earlier trip to the south–fondly!

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Hotel Empire does a unique thali, with thick spiral breads reminiscent of Kerala parathas and non-veg options. This is the chicken version. I thought their clear rasam was quite tasty.

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Look at this masala dosa. Thick, buttery Bangalore style from Chalukya . Notice the white color of the butter melting on top–made from buffalo milk, unpasteurized and with the formidable quality of cheese. Amazing! This is the sort of vegetarian meal that will make you sick with pleasure.

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And from Kamat Yatri Niwas comes this unique thali, fitted with green onions and raw methi (fenugreek) sprouts. Pots of chutney powders and claypot yogurt line up at the edge of the banana leaf.

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South Indies is an upscale joint. I piled my plate high from the buffet here.

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They were kind enough to make me idiappam, rice noodles, to order. Though I suspect they might have steamed some store-bought noodles just to be nice, they were still very tasty with sweetened coconut milk.

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I’m not sure how mythical the realm of Chettinad cooking is, but it seems to hail from the south of Chennai in Tamil Nadu. The cool thing about this cuisine is that it includes game meats–like rabbit and quail. India seems to be very reluctant to consume meats other than chicken or mutton. (Though that’s a broad statement!) So this is an interesting area. Ponnusamy’s is such a Chettiar joint, whose thali includes three unique non-vegetarian curries–fish, mutton and chicken.   See the katoris (cups) on the right of the banana leaf:

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I’m still fuming that when I visited they were out of Rabbit Roast.

This is a dish I’m eager to make when I get back home. It’s a Mangalorean specialty from Suresh’s golf club called Kori Roti, basically crusty (lentil? rice?) sheets topped with sauce. Imagine the crisp parts of dosai cut into sheets. The fish on the side, coated in semolina and spice, is kanhe, aka ladyfish, a Mangalorean delicacy.

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Suresh’s friend Ravi was really thoughtful and took us out to his favorite idli (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idli) shop in south-central Bangalore. Look at these guys! Soft, succulent, aromatic. We slathered them Kannada style in fragrant white butter, and sopped them up with the green coconut chutney. (I learned from another friend that Tamils might prefer their idlis with clear sesame oil and chutney powders, but that’s another story.)

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The crowd out front of the shop knows a good deal, plainly.

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At New Krishna Bhavan I ate three full plates of food!

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This is one of my favorite south India crepes: a neer dosa. It’s soft, spongy and wiggly in a good way. NKB’s coconut-jaggery dish accompanying the neer dosai is bliss.

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I ate their green masala idly fry, too.

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I thought it was good, but it was soundly dismissed by several knowledgeable friends.

Lastly, a thick dosa made from ragi grains. I was full.

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Umerkot in Koramangla neighborhood would have been disappointing if I didn’t get to visit with a friend who works nearby.

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Nice interior, but the food wasn’t up to snuff, so no food photos.

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