The desire to try Savji food was fulfilled on a recent trip to Belagavi aka Belgaum. Finding a place was pretty easy. Belgaum has many options. I located one just off Khanapur Road in Tilakwadi. P J Savaji is in the basement of a building named Ashraya Empire, which is close to the Rani Parvati Devi College of Arts.
It is small place, and would score a 6 on 10 on cleanliness. The menu is small. You won’t take long to make a choice. I had mine at first glance — a mutton thali.
One thing about Savji food is that these people are fond of non-vegetarian food. I had a feeling that the mutton would be good. And, I was not disappointed.
I feel that the mutton is always much better outside Bengaluru (aka Bangalore).
In this thali, the stock serves as the equivalent of soup. Yummy soup, I must add.
After tasting the curry in the smaller bowls, I decided that today was the day of the big one. That was yummy. Spicy, but yummy. I had the mutton curry with chapathis, which is actually restricting yourself to the done-to-death stuff cos Savji food is supposed to offer local options like jowar or bajra roti. But I was too immersed in the mutton curry to notice till I had completed the meal.
I sought more chapathis, but then stuck to just one. If I didn’t, I would have just gone on and on till I ran out of the yummy curry and delicious meat. The temptation to indulge is great, but at times, you have to wait….cos there will be more such opportunities.
It is easy to lose control of your senses when your palate is being seduced by tasty food. I restrained myself cos it’s not like this is the last place on Earth for Savji food. I believe Savji food is available all over central India. I want to try more such places, in Belgaum and other places.
Also, I had not paid much attention to the smaller bowls. There was a lot of flavour in those little bowls. These dishes are the result of centuries of refinement. How can I do justice to so much flavour in just one meal!
The journey to Belagavi
I took the overnight bus from Bengaluru, which left the city (Peenya) a few minutes before midnight. I expected to reach somewhere between 8 and 9 AM. I was awake for quite some time…. the usual excitement of a bus journey.
There was some confusion over the bus number. I had booked through redbus, which sent two SMS alerts about my impending journey. But the bus numbers were different. The bus operator VRL Logistics complained that this is a common problem when tickets are booked via redbus. Ouch! I am a fan of redbus. They gave me a good deal on the stay at Hotel BluRay
I was woken up by the conductor calling passengers bound for Belagavi aka Belgaum. When I got off and checked, the time was a few minutes before 7 AM. I was confused. How could the bus have covered a distance of close to 500 km in 7 hours. As far as I remember, the driver was keeping a good pace, but was not rash.
On the return journey, I boarded a KSRTC bus in Dharwad at 10.30 PM. I reached Bengaluru at 6 AM.
This makes Belagavi a lunch option if you leave at 6 AM.
One of the reasons could be the 6-lane road from Tumakuru to Belagavi. The 60 km from Bengaluru to Tumakuru is a smooth surface, but you are bound to face heavy traffic in daytime. At night, you are not free of the heavy traffic, but it’s only trucks and buses, who tend to stick to their lanes, even if the wrong ones. Once you cross Tumakuru, you can easily keep a steady pace all the way up to Belagavi.
Back to my Sunday morning arrival in Belagavi. I enjoyed the extra time taking in the surroundings of a small eatery at the junction of Triveni Lodge, as the city began to come alive.
— Dhiraj Shetty