Saturday, July 04, 2015

Gunavante Bhatra Hotel - A Stopover for Tuppa Dosas

Gunavante is a village between Murudeshwar and Honnavar on NH 66. The name 'Sri Gurukripa Bhatra Hotel' suggests that the place Gunavanthe and the Bhat running a small restaurant by the name 'Gurukripa' are phenomenal. It was at a higher elevation long ago, but shifted to the opposite side 15 years ago, in a distance of few meters from the old place as I am given to understand. The place is marked on wikimapia as well. 
We missed the hotel on our way to Sirsi from Mangaluru last month, when we set on a road trip to attend a family function. We decided to visit the hotel on our way back and we did. It is an asbestos roofed small setup with one basic wooden table and bench outside, four or five tables inside. That's the setup Bhatre has maintained. 

One can see a few cars and lorries parked by the highway side and people eagerly waiting for hot 'Tuppa Dosa' and cool 'Avalakki Mosaru' prepared by a bare chested, bearded middle aged man wearing saffron lungi, a rudraksha chain around his neck, the symbol of Brahmins 'Janivaara' or sacred thread adorning his well masculine body. He doesn't talk much or smile, keeps chewing betel leaf from time to time. No one asks him his name, for everyone knows that he is the famous 'Gunavanthe Bhatru' and he's the one who manages the kitchen single handed. Bhatru in Kannada generally means Brahmin, or a name used by Brahmin priests who worship. He is always in the kitchen that is open on three sides and his cash counter is attached to the kitchen from inside at the window facing the road.
The kitchen has wood fire for making dosas or for frying other goodies. At a time, Bhatru spreads 4-6 dosas on the hot dosa tawa and roasts them drizzling generous amount of fat over each one of them. Side by side, he filters coffee, arranges avalakki mosaru in bowls and does not show any sign of least tiredness or irritation on his face. 

Until the Bhatru prepares dosas or avalakki mosaru, visitors sometimes try some sweet jalebis neatly stacked and displyed in the show case. Tuppa Dosa is a crisp thin dosa drenched in fat, and avalakki mosaru is raw phova or beaten rice topped with thick yogurt and couple of spoons of sugar. Way back in 1989, I had visited the old setup with my friends and tried both the famous snacks there. Those days Bhatru added pure ghee to the dosa but now a days the cost of ghee must have made him downgrade it to Hydrogenated vegetable Oil. Whatever maybe the taste, colour or texture of the dishes, people swarm the place for those two items! Such is the magnetism, the place Gunavante and the Bhatru possess!
We ordered Tuppa Dosas which were not as good as I had them many years ago, but still the reminiscence of the Nineties made me feel good. Dosas were also looking slightly pale, but crisp and crunchy as always. Dosas are served with thin coconut and gram daal based spicy tangy chutney. Coffee was hot, strong and invigorating. With 3 plates of Tuppa Dosas(2 per plate) and 4 cups of Coffee, the bill touched  just 100 Rupees. That's what makes the joint popular with middle class people!

The boys grinned wide and asked me about the TV news channel on which the pictures will appear. I told them, just like the Bhatru, I have my own 'Garam Tawa' on which I will roast them and send them by mail, sorry publish them!

Try Gunavante Sri Gurukripa Bhatra Hotel if you are on a road trip, hungry and not in a hurry. I have decided to pay visits without fail every time I pass by that place to relive the feeling and taste of good old Eighties Tuppa Dosa and Avalakki Mosaru.

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