A Tasting Tour Through Bangalore's Johnson Market
Image Credit: At Fanoos

This article is part of Slurrp's Friday Food Walks. Catch up with our previous tours, through Chennai's Sowcarpet, Kolkata's Simla Mishti Para, Chandigarh's Punjab University precinct, Jaipur's MI Road, Ahmedabad's university-centric trail, a breakfast trail through Colaba in Mumbai, Hyderabad's Sindhi Colony, Old Delhi, and Srinagar's Dargah Hazratbal.


THE NEIGHBOURHOOD of Richmond Town (officially known as Sir Mirza Ismail Nagara) in Central Bengaluru was created in 1883 during the British Raj in India as part of the Cantonment. It was named after Thomas Richmond, an Anglo-Indian barrister, philanthropist and the president of the All India Anglo-Indian Association for over 12 years. The area’s layout of being self-contained with churches, schools, parks and markets became the standard for the other neighbourhoods established in the British Cantonment. 

While the design and demographics of the neighbourhood with its colonial houses with grand gardens have changed over the decades, there’s a little bit of the old charm still well and alive in pockets. Johnson Market — named after a British civil servant — and built in 1929 on the horse stables of the Persian trader Aga Ali Asker might be crumbling but within its storied walls and the twisting lanes around are some of the best places to eat and drink in the city.


Named after lanterns used to decorate homes during the holy month of Ramzan, the original Fanoos was established in 1975 by the late Ajaz Khan. “It was one of the first places in the city to have the concept of fast food,” says Shahid Hussain, who presently manages the original and the four other outlets across the city. Generations of Bangalore’s denizens have eaten more than their body weight in seekh rolls at this joint. There are no secret ingredients, it is just the result of daily practise, we’re helpfully told. The seekh is spicy, succulent and swift to disappear when tucked into their soft roomali rotis; we recommend you stand near the upcycled soda bottle filled with lime juice and drizzle some between each bite. And these marketing mavens have wonderful names for the number of seekhs one desires in their rolls: starting with a Rambo, and working up to a Shambo, Mambo or Mogambo (named after Amrish Puri’s villain character in Mr. India). Fanoos is the best for late night snacking to sop up the excesses of the evening. 

17, Hosur Road, Richmond Town. Monday-Sunday, 11am-1am, call 9740292049. 

Khazana Food Paradise 

Tucked away in a by-lane near Johnson Market without a board, Khazana Food Paradise is truly a treasure to be discovered. Started by two brothers — Shabir Hussain, who does the cooking; and Mohammed Hussain, who does the accounts and quality check — in 1997, this little hole in the wall serves the best beef biryani in Bengaluru. Unlike other biryanis, this biryani uses the fragrant, small-grained seeraga samba rice, which makes eating here a delightful battle between the senses. The meat is soft, the cooked-down chunks of tomato lend a refreshing tartness and each bite is spiced just right. It is no wonder they sell nearly 500 plates per day! 

If you aren’t a biryani fiend, Khazana also has the best ghee rice and superlative chicken kebabs — here, curry cuts of chicken are marinated with a set of simple spices, egg washed and dressed with breadcrumbs before being fried into crisp perfection. Try to get here by noon to beat the lunch rush. 

16, Aga Abdulla Street, Richmond Town. Monday-Sunday, 12.30pm-9.30pm, call 9900903909.

Koshy's Automatic Bakery

While the Koshy’s Bar & Restaurant on St Mark’s Road is legendary, to those living in Richmond Town, the city’s first fully automated bakery, which opened in 1953, is a local favourite. Besides picking up loaves of their daily bread, it is the perfect pit spot for a tangy lemon tart, a flaky chicken puff, pungent beef cutlets or even a rum ball — leftover ends and bits of other cakes drizzled with rum and shaped into pop-into-your-mouth-in-one-go balls. All of this can be enjoyed under the cooling canopy of a grand raintree. 

1, Wellington Street, Richmond Town. Monday-Saturday, 9am to 9pm, call 22211516.

Makkah Cafe 

Stop here at any time! This is a no-frills cafe — reminiscent of the Irani cafes of Mumbai — laminate benches; film posters on the peeling walls; one’s tablemates rotating through the evening, some there for a quick tea break and others lingering. Order a Suleimani chai — lemon tea — in a shot glass, bite into a crunchy onion samosa served up on a square-cut newspaper, scoop up a bowl of harira — a hearty Moroccan lentil stew — if peckish, or skip straight to the dil pasand options: flaky flat pies stuffed with khoya, shredded coconut and colourful bits of tutti frutti, and another with coconut and dry fruits. If you’re in a hurry, get a ginger tea and any of their desi biscuit options for dunking. 

Shop No.3, Johnson Market, Richmond Town. Monday-Sunday, 7am-Midnight, call 7353470361. 

Siddique Kabab Centre

The youngest player in this feasting trip is Siddique Kabab Centre, which opened 25 years ago in 1999. After 7 pm, the narrow street leading to this eatery is taken over by its thronging clientele — with bikes weaving through eating bodies, or people parting for the passing cars. If you love beef and its many forms, this is the place to head to. Everything is fantastic — Siddique Sr, who started the establishment used to run a beef shop in Johnson Market, and continues to have the contacts for the best cuts, which he says “is the groundwork” for all the fabulous dishes. One of the specialties here is the phal or thinly-sliced loin cuts that are marinated in masalas all day before being grilled to chewy perfection over coals, eaten with stringy idiyappams, or you can get it tucked into a roomali roti roll. Another killer option is the nalli or trotters’ soup that feels healing with each slurp. Or you can nudge your way to the front of the seekh section, where over 50 kilos of minced beef is transformed into melt-off-the-skewer greatness. 

7, Curley St, Richmond Town. Monday-Sunday, 5.30pm-Midnight, 8088935074.