Our auto drivers can sniff out a newbie in seconds, and one of the many tells is your pronunciation of street and neighbourhood names. Even if you aren’t from Bangalore, chances are that you’ve been judged and found wanting on the way to “Lavelly” Road. But unless you were here before 2010, you wouldn’t ever have needed to head to Cockburn Road, which is - yes - “cock-burn” to auto guys.
Once upon a time, off the feeder ramp of Cockburn (you can say Co-burn while you’re reading this story!) sat a colonial house that was rented out to a hakim’s shop and then became a post-office before being let out in 1933 to K. Krishnamurthy, who set up a city institution - Dewars’ Bar.
School (of Fried Fish) Ahead
While everyone including the Tommies stationed in Bangalore Cantonment in the ‘30s and ‘40s came here for the tipple, it was always the grub that was the star. In its heyday, it was the handiwork of an Irish cook, the employee of a famous Bangalore horse racing enthusiast who would loan him to Dewars’ for safekeeping while he himself went following the racing calendar around the country. For us non-Tommies, it used to be Richard, the ex- St. Germain’s boy who always described himself as a bike mechanic before a cook; and then Thomas and his wife, who ran the kitchen before it shut down in 2010.
So we’re thrilled - and you should be too - to know that Thomas and his wife are back in a tiny kitchenbetween a house and a mechanic shop, serving only the greatest hits from the Dewars’ menu. There’s no seating, so you’ll have go to them for take-away or get it Dunzoed to you. You can get seer, prawn, chicken and mutton in fry, chilly, kabab or pepper style. There’s biryani, mutton paya, head curry and brain. And they’ve got crab too.
Vegetarians, sorry: they leaf nothing for you. The hits at this place have always been the pungent, peppery preparations of spare parts, although the brain fry, mutton chops and fried fish deserve special mention. Dewar’s hero is the fried fish – a deboned fillet of seer marinated in salt, turmeric, chilli and vinegar; slathered with breadcrumbs and shallow-fried until heavenly. Everything here has that rustic, raw and rowdy employment of technique and taste that makes the best street food so unforgettable.
The spice will creep up on you with each bite and your mouth will eventually be on fire. At this point, you’ll be grateful to be home – finally turn on that fan in Bangalore and reach for the cold one in your fridge. Raise your glass to Richard, and congratulations to Thomas and his wife for bringing back a bit of the old! Let’s keep this one around longer?
Getting there: 1/32, Assaye Road, Sindhi Colony, Pulikeshi Nagar, call 9902227315. Closed on Mondays. A super large meal for two costs approximately Rs 900.
This story was contributed by Joshua Muyiwa, a Bangalore-based poet and writer.
Photo credit: Kerala Tourism
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