Archive | July, 2006

Start of Chaating?

10 Jul

The Gujurathis started coming to Bangalore in the early ’70’s (at least this group) when they were thrown out of Uganda by Idi Amin. Many stayed on, many more used India as a sujourn to cool their heels while the family made plans and established themselves in London.

To a large extend we have these folks to thank for the “chaat culture” in Bangalore. Two places come to mind when I think about the early Chaat shops (there were probably others as well) from that time, one was a place on Rest House Cresent off Brigade Road that was run by an elderly Gujurathi gentleman and his wife (dont remember the name), the other was a place called Bharat Cafe in Jayanagar 4th Block across from the shopping complex.

Bharat Cafe was run by a family of four. The sons manned the tables, the wife was in the Kitchen and the Master of the House was at the cashiers desk. Once a week (Wednesday evenings), I used to get a masterly allowance of one rupee and twenty five paisa from my mother to go eat at Bharat Cafe. Needless to say I was one of their preferred customers :-).

The Bhel Puri was crisp as you ate it and was not pre-mixed and soggy like the offerings in many of the Chat joints today. The Pani Puri, Ragada, and Masala Puri were classic. The lady of the house would come and sit across me as I ate and ask about how school was going, and how the food was (there were times when I got extra helpings for nothing). Of course those were early days of chaat and people would come to see what this “chaat” thing was all about. Still remember people eating Pani Puri “differently” – they would stick the puri in first, then the filling and then drink the pani… :-).

Bharath Cafe was around for a long time, but it started losing out to the new fangled eateries. The sons did not do a good job of taking over from their father. So, after he passed on, the business slowly ground to a halt. Today the shop still exists, the paint is fading, the shutters are closed and there are street vendors selling garments in front of the store. Yet it remains a beautiful memory. My first chaat experience and still my best.

As for the place near Brigade Road, the couple moved to London as soon as their children settled down there.

So what are your chaat experiences? Wheres the best chaat in Bangalore today? What is your earliest recollection of chaat? Share your thoughts here…

Bayi Chapala – The Shetty Contribution

5 Jul

While Kannadigas are known for their bayi chapala in general, each community has added its own quirks and contributions to the “taste bandwagon”. One community that has done more than its bit in this area is the Vysya (Shetty) community.

In fact there are entire lines of variants that have evolved from them. Not that I am complaining. I love all of them !! The nippatu with chutney (sweet and khara), uddina vade with masale, huli majjige muruku, benne muruku, fried avarekalu all of them owe their existance to this community. VV Puram, Avenue Road and Basavangudi are dotted with houses churning out these delicacies.In fact eateries around these areas owe their popularity and existance to them.

Visit one of the many stores on B.V.K Iyengar road to buy something and chances are that it will be owned by the Vysya community. Soon enough they will offer you majjige (buttermilk) or lemon juice. Drink it and you will find additives there that you would never imagine… and the taste mind boggling !! I had never had lemon juice with mint and buttermilk with ground ginger and onions. Visit someones house and the range of short eats that come out need to be seen to be beleived. I always have a hard choice between trying to act dignified or just dig into the stuff and eat as much as I can. Normally the latter happens 🙂

One of the “strangest” dishes I have eaten is dose with kharabhath filled inside. I was told that this was a delicacy. My initial doubts about the taste quickly disappeared. It indeed is a unique combination. Other “Shetty” combinations include Congress Kadalekayi Sandwich (bun), Gulkand Fruit Salad, Masale Soda. There are probably hundreds of eats that I dont even know about.

And trust the Shettys to know of places in nooks and cranies that you’d never have imagined. So how many of us knew that Bangarpet was famous for Pani Puri, or that you get the pest Soan Papdi in Kolar. My best friend (from the afforsaid community) did. Everytime I think he has found his “last” find, he comes up with more.

As I said before I am not complaining. Need to eat the Pani Puri in Bangarpete some day 🙂