I’ve only been going to Savera Tea Centre in Shivaji Nagar since 1998 for my doses of midnight chai in Bangalore. But the place’s been around for much more. I was 23 when I moved to Bangalore and in those days wasn’t too much into discovery of food, inspite of working as a chef at the flight catering unit at the old HAL airport. The focus then was more on friends, drinks and partying. The food bit came in much later
Shivaji Nagar and The Tale of Blackpalli
I was doing some reading up on Shivaji Nagar and was surprised to know that it’s original name was Blackpalli. Bangalore because of its lovely weather became one of the biggest British cantonments in the South somewhere in the early 1800’s. When the British shifted base from Srirangapatnam to here. There’s are two three schools of thought on why the name Blackpalli. One of them was because of a certain Black rice variety grown in the fields around this area. This seems a bit unlikely as Karnataka isn’t really known for any specific variety of black rice.
Another line of thought says that Billi Akki means white rice in Kannada and the fields here were known to have produced a particularly ‘snow white’ colour of rice variety. Hence the name Billiakki palli. Which probably got corrupted to Blackpalli at some point under the British (quite possible and likely so). The third line of thought is that Balckpalli was named after John Blakiston of the Madras Sappers and Miners, who is believed to be the architect of the original layout of the Bangalore Cantonment (also quite possible). Could be any of the three. You guys take your own pick.
Bangalore, unlike many Indian cities still holds on to many of its anglicised names and Russell Market in Shivaji Nagar is one of them. This’s a flower and vegetable market in the front and meat and fish market behind. This was the main market for the troops and locals living in and around the Cantonment area. Keeping local sentiments in mind. The beef market was made as a separate building some distance away from the main building. The pork market was shifted away
I guess because most butchers were Muslims, thus most of Shivaji Nagar became a Muslim dominated area over time. You get very good Muslim food here and a unique dish called Phaal.
Midnight Chai in Shivaji Nagar
Savera Tea Centre, I believe serves tea 24×7. So you can go there anytime. I’ve somehow ended up going to STC only for my dose of midnight chai. Bangalore doesn’t have too many midnight chai or street food options. Except for a few places like Shivaji Nagar. Which has a vibrant late night street food scene and the midnight chai at Savera Tea Centre is quite a must-have after a meal at Shivaji Nagar
Over so many years, I’ve never seen the taste of chai change at STC and that for me, is quite something. The food and beverage business is a people’s business and not a machine-driven one. It takes quite a bit to get the same output day-after-day and year-after-year. STC has done this flawlessly. It also does a few snacks like Samosa, Khajoor – a thick fried fermented dough snack that’s popular in this side of the world. Possibly named this because of it’s somewhat chewy texture.
I hope that STC grows the brand and makes their wonderful midnight chai available elsewhere in Bangalore. So that more people can enjoy it
May the force be with them!!