I was born and raised in Chennai. Our home was at the heart of the city in an area called Gemini- named after the famous Gemini Studios. Over the course of the 30 odd years that I lived in Chennai, we moved many times within the city, however, one bond neither withered nor weakened. That bond was with Palmgrove Hotel, bordering our massive apartment complex.
Almost ritualistically, my family would order breakfast from Palmgrove every Sunday. The aromas of Sambar, the dosai, and of course Idli with ghee were experiences we just could not get tired of. Think about it, 30 years of my 39 years in Chennai. That’s 1500 odd weekends amounting to 1500 visits to Palmgrove! But this post isn’t about Palmgrove, the hotel; Instead, this post is about Palmgrove the restaurant at Hotel Ballal Residency.
Hotel Palmgrove in Chennai and Hotel Ballal Residency in Bangalore are owned by the same family. In plain terms, the food that is served at Ballal is very similar to what is served in Palmgrove, Chennai. Everytime I dine at Ballal, I cannot help but smile to myself. The size, texture and flavour of the idli, the flavour of the dosa, the crisp bite of the vada, the ultra sweet grape juice – all making it as close to a Palmgrove experience as one can hope for.
So when in Balla what should you try. Let’s focus more on the breakfast than other meals.
When in Ballal, almost all the breakfast items are delicious. They are amplified manifold by the distinctly aromatic and flavour-bursting sambar made with their own sambar power, tomatoes, curry leaves and shallots (sambar onions).
Idlies: These idlies are not the typical silken soft ones that have made places like Murugan Idli Shop (Chennai) legendary. Instead, the idlies here are more like the ones available in Udipi, more rava than rice. So they are a lot more firm and grainy and tend to absorb sambar effortlessly. If you do order the idlies, ask for ‘dip’, meaning the idlies come in a big bowl and are dunked in Sambar. Never forget to ask for ghee on the side; They will happily serve it.
Dosai: The Dosais here are crisp and golden brown. I personally love their Masala Dosai/Ghee Masala Dosai The flavour of fenugreek in the dosai batter permeates beautifully and complements the tasty potato masala or ‘palya’ that is cradled within. If you’re like me, then you will start your dosai bang from the middle.
Medu Vada: Seldom have I seen such fresh and crunchy vadas being made so consistently. Mind you, the vadas here are big. They are in fact a meal by themselves. My favourite combination is to mash the idlies by hand, add sambar, ghee and small bits of crunchy vada. Absolutely divine stuff.
Pongal: The pongal here tends to be relegated to the shadows becuase of the sheer awesomeness of the idlies and dosais, however, it holds its own against any other tha tI have had in the city of Bangalore. It is moist, has a slightly glutenous glaze on it, is made with a balanced proportion of Moong Dal and Rice, and has the right amount of spices(peppercorns, cumin seeds, curry leaves).
There is plenty more that is popular such as Poori Sagu, Rava Dosai, Upma and believe me, they are all good. A typical breakfast meal will cost Rs.500 (all inclusive) for two.
For me, ever since I have discovered Ballal, my weekly ritual has resumed,pretty effortlessly 🙂 .
Some useful info:
On Sundays, the wait can be for as long as 30 minutes.
They also serve a buffet from 7am-10am, and is priced at Rs.250 plus taxes.