Flâneur-ing through Ahmedabad–6: La Bella!
At last it happened, the much delayed and hence much anticipated visit to La Bella! This modest one room eatery run by a Goan Auntie serving scrumptious and authentic Goan food is a favorite haunt of many homesick students from NID, CEPT and IIM for it is where they get home style non veg food that too at pocket friendly prices which is very difficult to find in a majority vegetarian city like Ahmedabad.
I had read a lot about this place and wanted to try its food so this evening along with my only non vegetarian friend from college, Modi (yes, it’s difficult to find meat eating people in Ahmedabad) I visited La Bella in Khanpur in the old city. It lies tugged somewhere in a maze of narrow lanes and you’ll die trying to find it on your own unless you’ve previously been there.
This small eatery is separated into 2 parts, one is the kitchen and one is the seating area with just 5 tables and red & yellow plastic chairs. There is no menu or printed rates anywhere, you just have to go upto the kitchen and ask Auntie or her helper Anna for what’s cooking and choose your food from the limited but delicious choices like Chicken Curry, Beef Fry, Mutton Curry, Mutton Fry, Fish Fry etc.
This evening the menu was Chicken Curry and Beef Fry, we ordered Chicken Curry with Rice leaving beef for another visit and I can say that it was the softest, juiciest and most tender chicken I’ve ever had (I had previously said it for KFC’s fiery grilled but hey I take back my words now). The curry was equally delicious.
When we were there, Auntie hadn’t arrived yet so Anna served us but later when she arrived, I got into talking with her. She’s the quintessential frail Goan lady with short grey hair wearing a skirt. She spoke in the trademark Goan Hindi, her name is Mary Lobo, she came to Ahmedabad 40 years ago when her husband used to manage La Bella, after her husband’s death she took over the eatery. She has friendly and personal relations with customers for most of them are regulars who swear by her food.
I first hesitated but managed to ask her that how does she manage by keeping the prices so economical, she just replied that she keeps enough that is required for her living. This made me ponder how on one hand everything in the world is profit-driven today where everyone is just focussed on earning more and more while on the other hand there still are people like Mary Auntie who in their own way make the world a little better place to live in.
In this talk I completely forgot to ask Auntie for a snap, never mind, will probably do it on my next visit.
So for those wanting to indulge into some Goan goodness in Ahmedabad here is how you get there, first reach Mirzapur or Lal Darwaza and ask any auto rickshaw driver for Preyas School, better known as ‘Laal (red) School’ because of the colour of its walls, and boom, you’ve reached the promised heaven for non veggies for it is pretty much in the same building as the school. But be there before 8 PM by max to avoid being disappointed and going back hungry for the food is made in a limited amount and as I mentioned it is very popular amongst the regulars.
As far as I am concerned, I’m going back there for a few more times before I leave Ahmedabad in 4 months.