Express News Service

Every morning at 7, a bustling corner at Banashankari Second Cross, Bengaluru, has eager locals vie for standing space, parking spots and even a square foot of shade. The arrival of Suman Bharadwaj and his truck, laden with steaming cauldrons of food at Brahmana Prasadam, a cosy eatery, signals the beginning of a frenzy. It’s a mad dash to be the first in line to savour Karnataka’s signature temple-style dish, puliyogare (tamarind rice), served in a patroley (made of sal or banana leaf).

The owner-founder says he and his mother first offer the food as naivedyam to their family deities at home—Narasimha Saligrama (a stone representing Lord Narasimha), Spatika Sree Chakra (the crystal yantra of Goddess Lakshmi) and Sree Chandramouleeshwara (a crystal linga from Udupi)—before serving it to the public. Hailing from a lineage of caterers in Bengaluru, the 29-year-old believes that this divine touch sets his business apart.

Bharadwaj’s culinary journey began during his college holidays in 2022 when he started sharing prasadam cooked at home with passersby. “In Brahmin households like ours, it is customary to distribute food after puja,” says the commerce graduate. “The delectable flavours enticed people to return and request larger quantities for their ceremonies at home. My father, Ravindra, always dreamed of being able to serve the prasadam to people. He passed away last year and I felt the need to fulfil his desire,” he adds. Bharadwaj started small by setting up a cart in August last year, selling puliyogare for Rs 20 at Banashanakari. The turning point came when “a few food influencers tasted our offerings and shared their experiences”.

From its humble beginnings serving devotees between 8 am and 10 am, Brahmana Prasadam expanded its horizons in January to turn into a 40-seater restaurant at Sri Sai Plaza. Like in the early days, the prasadam is still cooked by Suman’s mother, Manjula. For the restaurant, he has hired a chef from Srungeri, a district in Karnataka known for its traditional cuisine. What sets his eatery apart is its commitment to purity. It refrains from using artificial flavours, colours, or even baking soda.

sajjigge, Melkote puliyogare and Udupi kaai ganji

In addition, use of garlic and onion is avoided. Their dedication to quality has earned them the stamp of approval from ISKCON devotees in Bengaluru, who frequently visit them for breakfast and lunch. They serve an authentic Balayele lunch, which is served on a plantain leaf with delicacies such as menthya rotti (methi chapati), alugadde bonda (potato fritter), bendekaya gojju (okra cooked in tamarind juice and spices), saaru (Karnataka style rasam) and the puliyogare.

Every day, Manjula single-handedly cooks an average of 25 kg of prasadam. The process starts at 1 am. The daily puja with the food offering is performed by 4 am. By 8 am, the food is transported to the eatery, and within two hours, it’s often sold out. On Ekadasi, when many abstain from consuming rice, a special menu awaits. It comprises avulakki (wet chivda), carrot sabakki payasa (sweet tapioca) and Mathura rabdi (a milk-based dessert). The prasadams are priced between Rs 30 and Rs 100. On occasions, a special dish called phalamrutha—a milk dessert with fruits and nuts—features on the menu. Bharadwaj challenges the current trend of influencers labelling dishes as ‘Instagrammable’. “Food shouldn’t just look visually appealing; it should provide a delightful experience,” he says.

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