Khanavali: Bangalore to Shimoga

We decided to try a Khanavali: a strict vegetarian restaurant run by devout lingayat people. I like the limited menu; jowar rotis served with a thick and spicy brinjal-capsicum side dish, rice, curry and curds. The khanavali is usually family managed and the good one is very clean.

This one was on the highway and it was not clean. The headman was not clean. His teeth were yellow and red and quite rotten. The place was dark. We had walked in early, only one other table was taken. The tables were not arranged; rather, they were just kept around the place, odd tables and odd chairs and not one table that could take two chairs. The headman ushered us in, bade us take our seats. Picking up our sounds, a dirty pomeranian dog came up from the kitchen and made s quick assessment of us. Meanwhile, a thali for each (we were three) was made ready before us: fresh-patted rotis, hot curries, vegetables. The headman’s woman was making the rotis fresh in the open kitchen. The meal was delicious. His stern face broke into frequent smiles now, revealing a kindness that was not first apparent. Seeing us enjoying the meal, he pulled out dried rotis from a stack in a dingy upper shelf in the wall with its glass shutter permanently open, and, despite our shouting NOs, dumped one in each plate. We were adapted by then, so we ate — they were delicious too. Sometime then, his daughter came and started serving rice and sambar. She was full of energy and questions. She was agreeable because of her enthusiasm and curiosity. Another table was now taken, by a single lady. Strange, we thought, in a town like this. Sujaya asked for bottled water; I did not see the point, seeing how the food was made. In my plate, in the curds rice, I got a long length of hair.

As we left, Bharat and I said the food was very good. Father and daughter smiled happily, both looking very lovable. He wished us good health, three times. We walked to the car, where it stood in the dust, and the terrible din of Arasikere.