They say it’s at the Lord’s feet in Udupi that the astounding gastronomic diversity of the region began. We, though, didn’t go seeking blessings at the Krishna temple. We went hunting for ‘button idlis’ floating in a bowl of rasam at Mitra Samaj, the popular eatery on Ratha Beedhi (Chariot Street) which winds around the shrine. The previous evening the eatery had been closed, the lunar eclipse keeping even the staff under a shroud. But the street and the vicinity still saw a lot of activity. Till late in the night, ‘rice-bellied’ temple tourists could be heard taking a dip, even swimming, in the pond behind the eatery, just like the breakfast idlis were doing in the soup bowl the next day morning.
The aroma of freshly ground rasam powder tickled our senses awake to the morning bloom. The glistening dash of ghee on the rasam danced with the thin rays of sunlight streaming through the window. “The idlis here are soft, like a flower petal, try them,” came some unsolicited advice from a rice-belly. We did try the regular idlis, but didn’t care for the masala dosa the man was relishing. The deep-fried goli baje (maida fritters) so early in the day was also a no-go area. We ended quickly with a trademark filter coffee to catch up with Diana.