The Karanji Lake in Mysore charmed the socks off us. It was love at first sight between us and Karanji Lake, and as we walked deeper inside, this love only deepened. We ended up spending hours on end here, thoroughly enjoying every bit of it.
I hope you have been reading and enjoying the stories from our recent trip to Mysore. Please do hop on to my other blog to read the next instalment from the trip – a visit to RK Narayan’s Mysore house. Happy visiting!
If you haven’t already, do check out my other posts about Mysore!
Our recent holiday to Mysore saw us embark on a sort of dosa trail in the city. While in Mysore, I wanted to check out Mysore masala dosa (but of course!), as well as two hole-in-the-wall places that, Mysoreans claim, make the bestest dosas. And, today, I am here to impart all the gyaan from these dosa-tasting sessions to you, so that you are well informed whenever you plan a trip to Mysore next. I am very kind-hearted that way, you see? :)************
Sagu dosa at Hotel Mylari
So, one of the days when we were in Mysore, we headed to this little eatery called Hotel Mylari. This is one of the oldest eating establishments in Mysore (I could find no information on how old this place actually is, though). Located near the Nazarabad police station, this hotel is as non-descript inside as it is outside.
This is a place that you would absolutely miss if you were walking by without paying attention or without looking for it. Many say the hotel is exactly the same as it was when it first started business, in old-world Mysore, and we could sense that this must be true. There is a certain old-world charm to the place, the signboard seems ancient, as does the interior of the eatery. The signboard proclaims, loud and clear, that the hotel doesn’t have any other branches and that it is the original ‘Mylari'(You will find so many Mylari hotels in Mysore that you are bound to get confused. Hence, the signboard – apparently, this is the place where the ‘Mylari’ thing got hugely popular).
Inside, you will find a tiny room with just about six or seven tables, all of which could comfortably seat, perhaps, 15-18 people. There is no menu – the eatery serves just dosas, idlis and coffee, for as long as stocks last. This has always been the fare on sale, ever since the hotel started business, I hear.
We decided to go for the dosa and the filter coffee. We had heard of Hotel Mylari serving a unique type of ‘sagu dosa‘ and that filter coffee was just gorgeous in Mysore, and couldn’t wait to try both of these things out. We weren’t disappointed, not at all.
The dosa wasn’t huge, but medium-sized. It wasn’t crisp at all, but spongy soft, so soft that it melted in the mouth. I haven’t had dosa that melts this easily in the mouth, ever. It was made in butter (gasp!) and came with another pat of butter on top (gasp!). No sambar here, only freshly made coconut chutney.
The stuffing for the dosa was a sagu that is unique to Mysore, made of coriander and a few vegetables. I felt the sagu wasn’t wonderfully tasting or anything, but that it made for a lovely accompaniment – along with the chutney – for the pillow-soft dosa.
The dosa here smells of butter and freshness, without feeling overly greasy. It doesn’t initially seem to fill you up, and you can easily, easily have two in one go. But then, it is quite heavy and keeps you full for a few hours.
After hogging on the dosas, we had our fill of filter coffee here. And, really and truly, it was one of the best filter coffees I have ever had the pleasure of drinking and, trust me, I don’t say that easily. The filter coffee was perfectly made – just the right amount of milk and sugar and coffee.
The food here is served in stainless steel plates and the coffee in a stainless steel tumbler. There are no spoons or forks – you have to eat with your hands. There are no tissues here either – if you ask for one, you will probably be handed a couple of squares of newspaper. 🙂 You wash your hands in a little sink behind the eating area. Yes, it is that old-worldly, and that charming.
Prices are, of course, highly reasonable. We paid about INR 120 for four sagu dosas and two glasses of filter coffee. The fare is totally worth the price!
Hotel Mylari remains closed on Tuesdays.
Sagu dosa at The Original Vinayaka Mylari
Diagonally opposite Hotel Mylari is The Original Vinayaka Mylari, the latter establishment looking exactly the same as the former, inside and outside. The Vinayaka Mylari has the same kind of facade, the same kind of seating arrangements, the same kind of utensils as Hotel Mylari. And the same kind of food too. The Original Vinayaka Mylari is where we landed up for breakfast on the other day we spent in Mysore.
I hear Hotel Mylari and Hotel Original Vinayaka Mylari belong to two brothers – both of them started business with Hotel Mylari and later, one of them opened up Original Vinayaka Mylari. It looks like the top-secret family dosa batter recipe is shared by the two brothers, because we had exactly the same kind of dosa at Original Vinayaka Mylari as we did at Hotel Mylari. They had run out of coffee when we visited, so we couldn’t get our hands on any.
The prices at Original Vinayaka Mylari are pretty much the same as the ones at Hotel Mylari.
We found a few food award certificates displayed near the entrance of Hotel Original Vinayaka Mylari, but they all seemed to say ‘Hotel Mylari’. I remain confused about this!
This establishment remains closed on Wednesdays.
Mysore masala dosa at Dasaprakash’s Vishala
The erstwhile kings of Mysore, the Wodeyars, are known to drive into the Dasaprakash hotel near Gandhi Square to dine at its vegetarian restaurant, Akshaya. We had originally planned to breakfast at Akshaya on one of the days we were in Mysore and we did drive there too, only to find the restaurant under renovation and closed. So, we drove to another one of the Dasaprakash hotels in Mysore, called Dasaprakash Paradise in Yadavgiri, to eat at their restaurant, Vishala.
Among other things, we ordered for a Mysore masala dosa at Vishala, which turned out to be just lovely. The Mysore masala dosa in Mysore is quite different from the Mysore masala dosa available in other parts of India, we learnt. This dosa is medium-crisp, with a beautiful chutney podi spread inside it (unlike the spicy red-coloured chutney we have come to associate with Mysore masala dosa elsewhere), and has a simple potato stuffing. I just loved the Vishala Mysore masala dosa, which came with the accompaniments of sambar and coconut chutney. The dosa was perfectly done, just the right mix of crisp and soft, and the chutney podi and stuffing checked all the right boxes for me, too.
Vishala is a relatively high-end foodie establishment, with a nice ambience and good quality food. Considering this, prices are also on the higher side here. The dosa here cost us INR 70, which, according to me, is way better than what several Bangalore eateries would charge for the same.
And that’s all I have to say about the dosas we sampled while in Mysore. 🙂
Have you been to any of these places? What was your experience like?
I am sure there aren’t many among us who haven’t ever sampled the famed mysorepak from the south of India. That said, I think there are many who aren’t aware of how this famous sweet dish came to be. Today’s post is all about the invention of the mysorepak and more. 🙂
First off, a little bit of background about the Wodeyar kings who ruled Mysore for long. Apparently, many of the kings from the Wodeyar clan were big-time foodies, who would challenge their chefs from time to time to come up with innovative dishes that made use of their talents and creativity. Thanks to this food love of the Wodeyars, a number of dishes were invented in the royal kitchens of Mysore, almost all of them famous throughout the world today. The Mysore masala dosa, Mysore rasam, Mysorepak or Mysore bonda, for instance.
The humble but delicious mysorepak is said to be invented in Mysore during the reign of Shri Krishnaraja Wodeyar aka Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV, Maharaja of the state between 1894 and 1940. (Why do I call the mysorepak humble? Because it is a very simple sweet that is made with just three ingredients – chickpea flour, ghee and sugar! So unpretentious!) The then royal cook, Kakasura Madappa, was the brain behind this lovely invention.
One fine day, Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV craved for a new, unique kind of sweet, and Kakasura, being the dutiful royal cook that he was, came up with the melt-in-the-mouth squares that later came to be known as the mysorepak. (The royal cook was then known as the nalapaka – i.e. the one makes the paka or sweet syrup – based on which Kakasura named his invention.) The king loved the sweet to bits, and rightly so – it was delectable and light and wonderful. The king went on to ask Kakasura to set up a shop outside the Amba Vilas Palace and sell his invention, so that even the common people could taste his gorgeous mysorepak. Kakasura did just that, and the fame of the mysorepak spread far and wide. Slowly and gradually, different versions of the mysorepak came about, including the Horlicks mysorepak that we get in many sweet shops today.
The shop that Kakasura set up exists till date, in the Devaraja Market of Mysore, by the name of Guru Sweet Mart. After Kakasura, the shop was run by his sons and his grandsons and so on, and presently, it is his great-grandsons who do business here. Though mysorepak later came to be available everywhere in Mysore, the reputation of Guru Sweet Mart as the seller of the best mysorepak in Mysore still remains unrivaled. The present-day owners of the store claim that their mysorepak is made (largely) exactly the same way Kakasura used to make it, all those years ago – the original recipe.
After reading up all about the history of the mysorepak, of course, we had to go to Guru Sweet Mart and get our hands on a slice of their legendary sweet. That was, I think, the first place we went to as soon as we landed in Mysore. The first sight of the shop came as a shock, I would say. We were expecting a large, fancy kind of shop, but were totally unprepared for the little hole in the wall that Guru Sweet Mart is. Even at about 8 in the night, when we visited, the shop was bustling with customers.
We were told the mysorepak was bisi, bisi (hot, hot), straight off the stove. We asked for a parcel to get home, and in no time, the man at the counter made up a beautiful little gift pack for us. This, we later learnt, isn’t the best way to eat the Guru Sweet Mart mysorepak – you should eat it right there, bisi, bisi, standing outside the shop. For INR 20 or so, a little square of mysorepak is handed to you in a bit of newspaper, the ghee in the sweet pooling and forming a wet patch on the paper. You eat it with your fingers, bit by bit, savouring the taste and texture of it. (You could even heat it up in your kitchen, once you get home, for the same effect, but the experience just isn’t the same, we were told!)
The present-day Guru Sweet Mart is an outlet just for the sale of mysorepak. The sweet itself is made in private, at the nearby ancestral home of the owners, following Kakasura’s recipe, and then brought to the shop for sale. And, of course, the recipe is top, top, top secret.
Today, Guru Sweet Mart sells not just the mysorepak, but quite a few varieties of other sweets too. We bought only the mysorepak, but we were told their other sweet dishes are just as delicious. Well, next time, maybe!
And how was our experience with the mysorepak, you ask? Fabulous, I say. The sweet, as promised, melted in the mouth, and was sinful, loaded with ghee and taste. The texture is somewhere in between the grainy mysorepak that you get in Tamilnadu and the ghee-laden, smooth ones that are available in shops like Shri Krishna Sweets in Karnataka. Personally, we are big fans of the smooth variety, but the Guru Sweet Mart one won us over too.
Have you ever had the Guru Sweet Mart mysorepak? What was your experience like?
Remember the holiday I was desperately craving to go on? Well, it happened! We went to Mysore over the weekend, with two additional days thrown in. I got some of what I needed – a break from the routine, quality family time, and a change of scene. The trip was shorter and more hectic than we wanted it to be, I didn’t get any one-on-one time with the husband, we couldn’t do everything we wanted to, and I can’t say it healed my body and soul, but it was still good. It was a last-minute decision to embark on this holiday, and we are glad we did. We got to see different sides to Mysore that we haven’t seen before, and came back with enough ideas to plan another trip around. 🙂
This goes down in history as Bubboo’s first trip with her parents, alone – all the little and big travels we have had before with Bubboo have had someone or the other accompanying us.
Bubboo was a mixed kind of traveller on the trip, cranky and crabby at some times, super accommodating and understanding at other times. She just needs to get used to being out of home, I think, and the change of scene has done her a whole lot of good. She is tired, as of now, as her parents are too – nothing that a day of rest wouldn’t cure.
I will soon be back with stories from Mysore. Till then, you guys be good and take care!
There’s this little grocery store in Mysore that sells ‘Chocolate Paan‘. That is what the shop calls it, at least. This is not the ordinary meetha-paan-with-chocolate-syrup-wrapped-in-a-betel-leaf that any paan centre anywhere can make for you. This is a proper chocolate – white chocolate, to be precise – filled with all the intricate flavours of a meetha paan. The white chocolate exterior is delicately sweetened, considering the sweetness of the meetha paan inside. To make it even more clear, the white chocolate shell contains a stuffing made of ground meetha paan.
Put it in your mouth and bite into it, and your taste buds will be assaulted, in the most wonderful kind of way. Unlike most ‘unique’ products that have only a ‘novelty value’ and fizzle out in terms of taste, this chocolate paan is mouthwateringly delicious. It is difficult to resist temptation and eat just one! Good that they are so reasonably priced, then, right? Just Rs. 15 per piece.
I had been intrigued by the chocolate paan ever since I read about it on Hottebaaka, a few months ago, especially because the post praised it to the high heavens. Since there was no one travelling between Bangalore and Mysore, sampling this delicacy remained a dream. Till last night.
As if the Universe conspired that I should have the chocolate paan after dinner last night, the OH got a sudden work-emergency call on Thursday, requiring him to book his tickets and leave for Mysore immediately. He remembered this little chocolate-ey dream of mine, looked up the place, and got a few home for me. Need I tell you that they tasted extra sweet to me? 😉
Thank you, OH. 😀 May there be the mutual fulfillment of many such little dreams of ours, in the times to come!
For those of you who are interested, the shop that sells this is Badri Maruthi Stores, in Shivrampet, Mysore. The Facebook page says the paan costs Rs. 8 a piece, but we were charged Rs. 15 for the same. They come packed in little plastic wrappers, tied up neatly like a goodie bag, and are super easy to carry for friends and relatives. Ideal for gifting too, I would say!