BASAVANGUDI: Had the people of arid Kolar district complained to the great French princess that they have no water, she would have probably responded: “Let them have paani”.
Yes, the paani of the Bangarpet paani puri that Sri Sai Chaats on DVG Road in Basavanagudi serves is crystal clear.
But how does it pack a punch despite being colourless? “It’s again a specialty of the region. The chilli that goes into making the Bangarpet paani is grown in Chikkaballapur, which was formerly part of Kolar district,” says K M Manjunatha, who has been running this eatery for the last one year.
A former IBM techie, Manjunatha explains the process of preparing the paani like it’s a software program. “The small, hard Chikkaballapur chilli doesn’t give out the green hue on grinding unlike the ones from Belagavi that are used elsewhere in Bengaluru. These ground particles are allowed to settle at the bottom and the spicy, crystal clear paani is decanted,” explains Manjunath, who uses his tech expertise to track his business and quality too.
Sri Sai Chaats, that is open from 1 pm to beyond 10 pm except on the second and fourth Tuesdays or Wednesdays, serves a whole lot of specialties besides the paani puri, like masala puri, bhel puri, nippat bhel, sev puri and the floating pani puri.
“Bangarpet chaat is a brand. The floating pani puri is possible only with the Bangarpet puris,” says Manjunatha. “Unlike the puris in Bangalore that contain atta, which makes them soggy once they are in contact with water, the Bangarpet puris are made of maida and rava, which are kneaded in a certain proportion. This makes them puff up evenly and keeps them crisp for a longer time in spite of wallowing in the pani,” says Manjunatha.
“This dish is topped with boondi, which comes all the way from Chintamani, also in Kolar district,” says Manjunatha who says he literally goes any distance to offer an authentic taste. Little wonder then his customers travel long distances for his chaat. “Chikpet MLA R V Devaraj’s daughter once drove straight from the airport to place her order before I closed for the day,” says a beaming Manjunatha, who says it was his passion for chaat that made him give up his job at IBM.
He says he uses the American dry pea variety called Rumba, which costs twice as much as the Canadian variety that most eateries use. “Rumba tastes fresh and its bite is full, unlike the Canadian pea which tends to disintegrate,” says Manjunath.