I love driving down the stretch from Goa to Udupi.
On this stretch despite the dug up roads, crazy diversions and sliced old houses, which to me are slicing up of an old way of life there are some salient point.
One of them is a small eatery which is tucked in a village called Gunavante some 30Kms, off the town of Kumta on the NH66, it was known as NH17 before.This eatery was introduced to us, by my friend’s father and it did not have visible name board.
The sliced hillock and other buildings make mooring rather difficult, as the familiar landmarks are no more there. On our onward journey we missed out on this joint maybe having had breakfast at Kamat upachaar at ankola we were not really looking out for it.
On our way back we managed to sight the place and we got down for breakfast. The place is as if we are walking into somebody’s house maybe we are I am not sure, the simply arranged old fashioned benches, unpretentious decor he has four tables and four benches, yes the old fashioned ones, the only difference this time is that he has tied the bench to the wooden pillars of the house as the sliced terrain renders the risk of the bench and people sitting on it getting toppled.
He opens at the crack of dawn, as his first customers land at 7 am. The menu is very rustic, “Tuppa dosai” there is no hint of Masala, with traditional coastal chutney which is made with coconut and urad dal, and sambhar again the coastal kind, avalakki Mosaru that is beaten rice with curd served with pickle, buns another traditional coastal snack made of banana’s and maida served with chutney, and Idli and vada… it is called vada and not the urban “meduvada” for in the rural or traditional Udupi cuisine meduvada is something else. The only concession to modernization is Puri-bhaji, which is puri with potatoes instead of the traditional puri-palya or puri with random vegetables cooked with coconut in coconut oil.
The dosa’s are amazing, yes they do seem to swim in ghee but the crispness is just right it is served piping hot. The coffee is to amazing, Idli of course was rather flat, maybe because we really just enjoyed the amazing dosa,
As we were waiting for the dosa to arrive, I could see the old grinding stone, where a gentleman was grinding for the idli and dosa for the next day. It reminded me of my grandfather and his siblings and many of the young people from the Brahmin families during the turn of the last century.
People had just begun moving from their villages outside to find jobs that were considered modern like putting hotels youngsters also moved to town to study. Traditional people would leave home after school, do bit of their studies at Mangalore or Madras and move on to Madras for higher studies. Though these people were not impoverished there was a lack of cash since transactions would be in kind. It was kind of became an accepted norms for the Brahmin boys who left home to study to be offered stay and food at these hotels in return they would grind and prepare the batter of the next day, cut up vegetable for and help the cook get ready for the next day. These activities would be supervised by the owner’s wife.
So and Udupi hotel came to mean a place where the food was cooked and served by Brahmins, it also meant the use of onions was also zilch, as opposed to the military hotels which served non-veg and drinks.
Of course Udupi hotels now mean different the kind of food served is so totally different from where it began.
Eating there brought home the extent we have walked from independence to today, culturally value wise. The container of water at the entrance every guest walks up washes his or her hands, asks the owner if they can wear their foot wear in, it occurred to me we are at the crossroads where a way of life is slowly dying.