Breakfast at Koshy's, Bengaluru. Of perfectly folded mutton omelettes & filter kaapi mugs full of inner peace

My breakfast at Koshy's, November 2018
2 cups of special coffee, 1 liver on toast, 1 mutton
omelettes. Rs 440 (approx)

Sandwiched for choice between a dosa and an omelette

“I am trying to decide between going to Koshy’s for breakfast and the MTR branch at St Mark’s today. I am flying out tomorrow. I wanted to check out the Koshy’s breakfast as I have heard so much about it, but I can’t leave the city without having the thick crunchy benne dosas of Bengaluru that I love can I, and that's where MTR scores.”

“Go to Koshy’s today. You will find a Maiya’s outside the Bengaluru airport tomorrow. You can have the dosas that you love there and a filter kaapi from the shop next door too. And they have tables and chairs for you to sit.”

“Are you sure? Will I get the MTR/ CTR variety of dosas?”

“Yes, you will!”

This series of Whatsapp exchanges happened a few Saturdays back when I had gone to Bengaluru to conduct my first food walk outside of Mumbai, the fourth in the series of the Sodexo CXO Food Walks. I was staying at the rather uber cool Hyatt Centric Hotel and going to nearby MG Road for breakfast seemed plausible. Which is why I messaged my friend and Bengaluru based food blogger and author, Nandita Iyer of Saffron Trail, for advice that morning.

I had checked out the menu of Koshy’s on the net before messaging her. I had found the menu to be rather 'boring' I must confess … sandwich, cutlets, coffee, tea. I had been to Koshy's for dinner once and had enjoyed the experience. I was keen to try out the breakfast especially since I was at a hotel close by. However, the menu left me unexcited and I was in two minds. Then I saw on the app that there was an MTR outlet close by to Koshy's, not the original branch I guess, but the lure of its dosas were tempting and hence this quandary.

Nandita’s message helped me make up mind and I decided to Uber it to Koshy’s. However, Nandita was wrong as I realised the next day. The Maiyas outlet at the airport had suddenly shut down it seems and I she did not know about that. So, my benne dosa dream remained unfulfilled on this trip. Moreover, it took us so long to reach the airport by road even on a Sunday that I doubt if we could have the dosas even if the shop was there.

Yet I am glad that Nandita was unaware of this development and that I went to Koshy’s basis her assurance. For, I did absolutely love my breakfast at Koshy’s. So it turned out to be a case of 'all's well that ends well."

Those were glory days my friend

KC Das opposite Koshy's

The smile on my face widened the moment I got off in front of the KC Das shop at St Marks Road, which is located opposite Koshy's. This is the area where I had stayed at when I first visited Bengaluru in 1997. The city was called Bangalore then.

I was fresh out of B School and this was my first work trip. I was put up in the then new and rather charming hotel called St Marks Hotel. I had been sent to observe and learn from my boss who had come to observe focus groups herself for a study. The latter were conducted in Kannada among auto rickshaw drivers by a field researcher and I did not really understand much of what was going on. In other words, I had nothing much to do and had fond memories of walking down these lanes in between feasting on the room service menu. I did later realise in office Kolkata, when they were putting the presentation together, that I was supposed to have taken notes but that's a story for another day if you are interested in the oops moments of my market research agency day tales!

Koshy's Bengaluru, estd 1940

Memories of my first trip to Bengaluru came alive twenty years later, that Saturday morning, while I crossed the road to enter Koshy’s. Nandita had warned me that some renovation was going on at Koshy’s and had advised me to sit by the windows. Luckily enough, I did find a table close to the window. The place was not too crowded and it was ten am then but got progressively busier even though it was a working day.

Far from the madding crowd

When I stepped into Koshy's

It seemed as if a sense of calm and peace that cocooned me the moment I walked in to Koshy's. The atmosphere struck me as being very Kolkata. Calcutta to be precise. The feel was that of Flurys meets India Coffee House, more of the latter though as Flurys today looks rather posh. The ceilings at Koshy are high. The tables and chair seemed frozen in time as was the menu. The fans stirred languorously as I settled down at my table.  Everyone around me looked so snug. Be it the elderly gentleman to my left, reading the Times of India while sitting by the window. Or the middle-aged silver haired gentleman to my left, who seemed firmly set on his plate of sausages and toast. Or young Bengali lady (a student perhaps) and her parents sitting opposite me, sitting together grimly like Bengalis who have moved out of home do when their parents come to visit them.

The window seat at Koshy's

Later, a younger and hipper group of four walked in, one dragging in her suitcase on wheels. Once in, they too were taken in by the sense of inner peace at Koshy’s and seemed to sit there quieter than they would have been at a modern café or a pub I am sure. 

I sunk in happily into my chair. Could I have ever felt more at home in a land away from home?

I doubt it.

Time for a hearty breakfast

A waiter in white livery (very first footman at Downton Abbey) came to take my order. He seemed to be in his thirties or forties and possibly the only staff member who was under sixty here. 

“One mutton omelette, one liver on toast, one Koshy’s special coffee. All at the same time please,” was my order.

He nodded and walked off and a bit later brought all three to my table, a man of few words and one who evidently knew his job. Just the sort of person what the world needs many more of.

Koshy’s seemed to be about perfection and precision without much ado, as the tray he put down on me soon told me.

Mutton omelette at Koshy's

I had thought that the mutton omelette (served sans bread) would be similar to the the flat, shredded mutton bejewelled, Spanish omelettes that my mother made me when I was a kid.

It was not. It was a perfectly rolled, firm and yet juicy, omelette instead. Stuffed with minced meat or kheema. Unlike the kheema of the Irani cafés of Mumbai though, the kheema here was served sans any excess of garam masala. The sweet flavours of good goat meat sung through the blanket of egg and if there was ever an example of harmony on a plate, this was it. Keto and Atkins (anyone remembers that now) diet fans would be happy to know that the omelette is served sans bread or toast at Kohsy's. You have to order that separately.

Liver on toast at Koshy's

The liver on toast made me miss K, just as the hotel room at Hyatt Centric had earlier.

There are a couple of things that you should know about her. That she loves good hotel rooms. And chicken liver. In that order. 

The texture of the liver, which was lazing on the toast, was just right. Not too hard. Not undercooked. The liver was cooked in a strong Indian garam masala spicing which balanced the raw taste of the offal. The toast was white bread toast, doused with yellow, salted butter. A combination so alluring that I polished the off the full plate after telling myself that I would just taste a bit of what was on it.

At the end, neither of the plates, that of the omelette of the liver toast, would have bothered the dish washers inside much by the time I was done with my breakfast.

The coffee? It was the best filter kaapi that I have ever had. I am no filter kaapi maven or connoisseur I admit, but have had enough of them across the country to know that this nice and robust coffee at Koshy’s was indeed 'special' and not just because the menu card say so.

I finished my cup. And called for another.

Throwback Saturdays at Koshy's

In a happy place

I felt like an interloper taking pictures and Instagramming them while there, but then at Koshy’s they do not judge you, or hurry you, as I realised that morning. Even when you are a stranger there, as I was. In fact, the waiter took a clicked a picture of mine too when I asked him too. The picture made me realise that I desperately needed a haircut.

Then better sense prevailed in me. I decided to imagine that it was 1997 again. A world before mobile phones and cameras and blogs and social media.

I kept my phone away for a bit and just sat and sipped on my second kaapi. Feeling thankful for the life I had.

But then, thank god that blogs and social media exist today. How would I have shared this story with you otherwise? 

#gramthegrammers I did meet Nandita Iyer (in blue) for
lunch that day along with Monika Manchanda and Megha
Deokale and Raina Kshetry, Bengaluru based food bloggers

Note: The Sunday breakfast at Koshy's features appams and stews too.

Also of interest:

A video on the food walk that I did for Sodexo at Koramangala in Bengaluru during the trip:

For those interested in hotel rooms, pictures of my room at the Hyatt Centric, Bengaluru. This is a room with a view for which one pays a bit extra than for the regular one. I became a Hyatt Club member while booking it which entitled me to a discount over the rack rate. As rooms go, it was not very large but was very well designed and the mattress and sofa was firm and comfortable, as were the pillows.

I wanted to have lunch at a place that represents 'new Bengaluru' and Monika
Manchanda suggested the Permit Room at MG Road. I was very impressed by the food.
Especially the way the meats and calamari had been handled by the chefs
On a separate note, have you caught the latest edition of the Times Kitchen Tales? We have announced the first theme for entering stories on the website. Please do read this story from my grandmother's kitchen and then enter yours at
Times Life, Sunday Times, 9th December 2018