Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Random Rambling to Rouse me to Writing

Exotic Foods and Empty Bowls

At times like these I feel my writings are even more relevant, where the rich are migrating from every basic food to exotic foods and the poor are moving away from basic food to sometimes no food. I am told 30% of the worlds hungry and undernourished live in India. The rich are protein hungry (more people taking to eat meat, and many myths of Indian Vegetarianism have been broken in the recent surveys) and the poor are carbohydrate hungry or plain hungry.

I have always tried to write about the Rs 100/- eating out and smile and mouth Aaall iis well. The more I read hear, see and understand, yes I may not make a livelihood from being the salesman's hero or of the lower rung of the totem pole. But, I will re-dedicate my writing to the cause replete with new vigor and fervor.

Where does this madness start, how does this madness start, why does this madness start. Just because there is  Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. We may slowly be led to believe that people read and enjoy our photographs and the nonsense we write around them.

Its  sad and is a twist of fate that the the rich photograph their food before they start and the poor pray before they start.Who really cares what you are eating...

When I was a young boy growing in Vizag, the more cosmopolitan sat kids around talked  and shared their food. Whilst, the more and very traditional students faced the other side and hid their food, had a morsel and covered their food and did that again and again till they finished and quietly wrapped up.
Quite similar an analogy between the Imstagramers and the praying ones.
The reason behind eating shyly kept me thinking for so many years.... is it because protection from  evil eye, embarrassed with the meal, unsocial, vegetarianism etc. Until it was recently decoded, do mot have enough to share with all the needy and poor around and in the world.

Different cultures eat differently, I often hear and from poor people whenever you go past them and know them.... they say Khaana kha lo saab, I always heard these soothing chants in the Army when I walked past and  any eating Jawan from any part of the country and community. I loved it . It was almost like a greeting.

Arabs and people with Islamic orientation eat from a common plate/ bowl
So do Ethiopians
Hindus eat from own serving utensil nut share from a common bowls and plates
Far eastern communities eat from bowls and plates common and individual
Americans seldom share plates when they eat out
Kosher Meals  Ritually prepared nut eaten without rituals
Some eat with instruments and some without
Some eat at different day parts and of night
Some pray before and some after
Some eat salad and fruit before and some after
Some start with a main course and finish with others
Some couldn't care some cant afford
Some have a single meal in a single bowl that to with begging only a Bhikshu, Buddhist and Jain Monks
Some say grace, some sing grace...
Some fast and feast, some feast and fast and some fast and fast...

Thursday, November 14, 2013

November 14, Nirula's Revisited

November  14, Nirula’s Revisited

It is Children’s day , I had to write about my childhood fantasy revisited  Nirula’s. After a sales call the salesman gets hungry, while going in for the meeting, I spotted a Nirula’s off Aruna Asaf Ali Marg a place near Bawa potteries. It also has the Ananda hospitality office near it (near Vasant kunj). Please read my previous post on the history of Nirulas and my journey through Adolescence, Youth, Family, please read here

I walk in, the place is run down , faded paint, bright colors now pale, cakes like they are made of wax. Two three property dealer types eating a thali of sort. This is definitely not the Nirula’s of my salad days. I walk up bravely like in Oliver Twist, (asking for porridge from the orphanage janitor), here the man behind the cash till. I ask for a Bigboy Burger, I notice you have to pay extra for a hash brown. I offer Rs 135/- for a burger and hash brown. Compare it to the Rs 5.50 for a Bigboy burger exactly 30 years ago. Its now 24.5 times more. I would reckon that would be the  inflation that we have lived through from college to now.

I sit gingerly without touching the veneered table, staying away from the cloudy plastic glasses. I wait and wait and wait. I walk up to the counter and the cook on the grill says  I will make it well.

I am definitely circumspect….. I don’t know what to expect. Nirula’s. The Legend has changed… owned by Nirulas, then a Malaysian fund and Samir Kuckreja and now the Chadhas of Kabila Travels. Long journey. Equally long as my burger wait. Despite, my instructions usually its dry cardboard tasting burger.

Well the burger arrives wrapped in butter paper, I open it, expecting the worst . I bite into it, heaven, its tasty, juicy, slurpy, and heavenly. I devour it as no one is watching and enjoy. Surprise, surprise it has delivered on the core proposition the food. The mustard is good the burger is really nice. I complement the cook, Gulab, 21 years with Nirulas at at the Connaught Place mother ship outlet till they shut it down and its now a Haldirams. Thanks Gulab and thanks Nirula’s. As I said, don’t care my burger comes from a Punjabi, Malaysian, or  a Sikh ownership. All I like is the burger has to be right and right it was.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Perils of a Punter (breakfast at Jatland ... oops Heartland)

Like there are rewards in finding new and interesting places to eat. The perils or risks involved are tremendous too. This morning, i decided to drop my daughter to school and attend the PTM in the same trip. As a result, i was done at 8.30 am and our office does not crank start before 9.30 am. 

Armed with a newspaper in my hand headed to the nearest market at Green park. I had spotted an Adyar Anand Bhawan  many moons ago. Images of a clean restaurant with Suprabhatam playing in the background, well bathed and hair oiled in white lungis and shirts waiters greeting with warm smiles, hot idlis and fragrant coffee goaded me in that direction.

8.50 am and the shutters are tightly shut with a guy sitting on a stool and absorbing the lazy morning sun, tells me, it opens at 9. I always wonder other than a few, all South Indian restaurants do not open before 9 shed the early Madras Cafe habits in Dravid-land and adapted to the lazy Rajdhani and Jatland of Delhi. Though EverGreen Sweets was live and kicking> I was determined to lose myself in the lanes of Guindy, along the slow flowing Adyar river in Chennai in heartland Green Park.

I go in, a shady place with Uttranchal waiters who haven't bathed in a week, floors being swept of last nights droppings, curtains pulled to avoid the sun. i ask for Idly, sambhar will take five minutes. I settle for Upma, served in a neon yellow thali, go through it somehow terrible tasting chutneys. Ask for, Vada, not ready. Settle for a Masala Dosa. I understand the first Dosa on a Tawa is terrible, i do try and make my point. They bring be a white Dosa (far from brown ) on a even bigger neon yellow Thali. I hate it. I complain. They don’t care a shit. How does a North Indian understand Dosas.

Little do they know this north Indian spent better half of his life in Visakhapatnam and Coimbatore and speaks chaste Telugu and Tamil. They look at my half eaten Dosa in disdain and bring me a full bill. I try to complain and then let it be. 

This is my format of a complain. please avoid the place, at least in the morning if you are from the Southern, northern and any geographical state of india or the world. Namaskar

Friday, April 5, 2013

Shame at Starbucks

Coming up....... the disaster at Starbucks at Select Citty Walk New Delhi....... Watch this space.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Great Maratha......... Maratha Darshan

What moves a person so much to devote time and effort to write about a dish or an eating place it has to be outstanding. I continue with my Southern sojourn with Maratha Darshan. A few posts ago I had written that my colleagues at Bangalore threw a challenge, the first salvo was with Namma  Mane (Kundapur Cuisine). The second salvo was fired with Maratha Darashan.

Now, Darshini is a vegetarian eating place in Bangalore. There are more than a few thousand in Bangalore. Bangalore has a great eating out culture for breakfast, lunch and  tiiffin. There are stand and eat Darshini, sit and eat Darshini and many more.

We are here talking about Maratha Darshan in Bangalore and why not 5 districts of Karnataka share their border with Maharashtra from the costal west to North. Why not a shared cuisine. Actually Karnataka is generous, the people respond or try to in the language you speak to them. Large hearted to embrace and introduce cuisine albeit, neighbors……. We ll know the number of Andhra style restaurants and eateries. For many years, I kept searching for original Kannadiga food now I am wiser.

Maratha Darshan is eatery, where the food is spicier version of perhaps the South Karnataka cuisine, however speaking to Naveen the son of the proprietor Shanthraj Lad. The story is his mother is from Madikeri in Coorg and father a Maratha settled in Mysore. Hence I was confused with flavors, part Vidharba- Kundapur-Coorg. A melee of flavors each of them, more delightful than the other.

Their signature dishes are Mutton Chops masala, Natti Chicken (country chicken), Meat Balls (Keema) in gravy. Their repertoire is large, we stuck to Kaleji (Liver fry, more offal), mutton chops and elegant chappatis. Flavors nice, crowded at lunch time, people standing and peering into your plates, waiting for you to finish and swoop in for the kill. There is plenty of fvoful curries with rice and Mudde ( Ragi balls)

They now have a branch at Malleswaram, however the parents started out on selling on a footpath, then on to a auto (three wheeler) and now two branches packed to the gills. Long journey, from their humble beginnings in 1992.

The food is outstanding and highly recommended. Abhijeet, Rabansh Sunanth and Satya Colleagues at Bangalore you win the round two as well.





Saturday, December 22, 2012

Brain Games....... King Offal

Brain Games…… King Offal


Sounds like a thriller but a thriller it is. North Indian Hindus do not eat offal; yes we are truly in some parts becoming a Republic of chicken. However, Offal eating can range from gourmet cuisine ( pate de foie gras , for the poor (who cannot afford  top end cuts). Offal has an origin in the German language abfall or abval. A general snapshot of India its neighbors:

In India and Pakistan, the goat's brain (maghaz), feet (paey), head (siri), stomach (ojhari or but), tongue (zabaan), liver (kalayji), kidney (gurda), udder (kheeri) and testicles (kapooray) as well as chickens' heart and liver are enjoyed. One popular dish, Kata-Kat, is a combination of spices, brains, liver, kidneys and other organs. Beef offal is relished with the above mentioned parts regularly used in food, especially fried delicacies. In the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, lamb and goat brain sautéed and stir fried with spices (often called bheja fry) is a delicacy. In the southern Indian city of Mangalore, a spicy dish called rakti, made of heavily spiced porcine offal and cartilaginous tissue, is considered a homely indulgence.


In Bangladesh, a bull's or goat's brain (mogoj), feet (paya), head (matha), stomach skin (bhuri), tongue (jib-ba), liver (kolija), kidney and heart are delicacies. Chickens' heart, gizzard (gi-la) and liver are also enjoyed.


In Nepal, a goat's brain (gidi), feet (khutta), head (tauko), stomach skin (bhudri), tongue (jibro), liver (kalejo), kidney, lungs (phokso), fried intestines (aandra), fried solidified blood (ragati) and to a lesser extent testicles are considered delicacies and are in very high demand in Dashain when families congregate and enjoy them with whiskey and beer. Chickens' heart and liver are also enjoyed but it is chickens' gizzards that are truly prized.


Every meat eating Nations have their offal eating traditions both at the grass root and gourmet level. Anthony Bourdain has a large body of work chasing Offal eating in various cultures apart from his original French culture….. Haggis in Scotland , Head Cheese in various parts of Europe, Kidney Pie and black pudding in England, chopped liver with the Jewish community


I have eaten liver on toast, liver masala with drinks, keema kaleji as main course as well as a snack at the JCOs mess in the army, liver for breakfast in the Military Academy.

Kidneys as  a part of Taka tak in Pakistan, sometimes as a curry, never my favorite. Kapoorey no no even when they are offered. Tried Kheeri or udders  at Ramazan at Mohammad Ali road. Love the Kharodas (trotters) as child in Karnal and Spicy Paya Curry as a grown up with  all the gelatinous cartilage.

This post, however is about none other than the king of them all, Brain……. I love, I dream about it have eaten it as a cutlet, a pakora, bheja fry, brain curry ( at Salim, Karims, Minar, Khalsa Dhaba In Delhi, Nachiyar, Imperial, Empire, Ponuswamy in  Bangalore, brain chilly, brain bhurji at several other joints.

Last Sunday had to eat it back from the gym stopped at Sanjha Chullah, no don’t have it on the menu. Next stop Salim at Kailash Colony (I was initiated here about two decades ago) a no. Next stop my preferred butcher Greater Kailash 2, …. Don’t have it. Karims an Industrial outlet and takeaway at GK2 had curry priced at Rs 240 for one piece …. Too high, and I do not respect other than  the one at Jama Masjid or perhaps at Nizaamuddin. Next, Qureshi  another butcher shop that turns into open air barbecue in the evening finally advised go to Ahaar at Alaknanda market and you will get it ( by the way checked on the telephone at Green Chick on the phone a negative) After five negatives and one circumspect. I had to do it.

Now at Ahaar the owner politely send there were 12 in the morning and somebody picked them all up. I was now figuring out somebody is picking a whole lot of brains in South Delhi. I was now obsessed, had to have it and have it my way. Ankur the owner said I will home deliver them as soon as they arrive. I said okay and waited like the allies waited before the Normandy landing.

Arrived two smart brains costing a mere Rs40 each and got going with a pan- chopped onions-blanched tomatoes-onion garlic paste- juliennes of ginger and green chilli voila with the smartest pan cooked brain fry. Suddenly Sunita the Nepali maid threw a scare in the Siliguri Darjeeling hills anyone with parents alive does not eat this and she refused to eat though helped me cook it. I thought deeply and said I am sharing it with my parents and let it pass as folklore and indulged anyway. Magnificent dish even if I were to say  so myself. Shared it with my colleagues Krish, Amitava and Suchana incidentally all Bengalis and pretty much hard core  meat eaters and my partners in crime in some of the escapades.

Moral of the story, Offal’s are good they are gourmet as well as nourishment for protein starved nation one man’s meat is another man’s poison does and does not hold good always. Cheers



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Kundapur Cuisine....... Bangalored at Nama Mane

Nama  Mane………………. Bangalored with Kundapur Cuisine

Nama Mane…… means  "My House"

In North and Western India an eating joint owner has a photograph with Shahrukh Khan the place is a hit. Down south, if the place has a photograph of Rajnikant you are mostly assured of a good meal. We were eating at a Mallu joint on the erstwhile tony area of Brigade Road in Bangalore. Eating decent Biryani followed by Parothas and Brain Curry followed by Sulaimani Chai. This, local affordable exotica for the journeying salesman was on my recommendation. I had thrown the gauntlet at my team, they accepted the challenge and wanted to now show me around with a counter attack.

The volley was fired by Abhijit, Rajbansh and Sunanth they first invited me to Nama Mane a small eating place where the food comes in vans and is dispersed in thalis in a tiny dining hall and outside tables.  We had just returned from The Ham shop, at MG Road , bought three kinds of sausages, Goan, Spicy and Plain (spicy was the best) and Salami and Ham, superlative…. an over  70 year old shop , more of that later.

Now, Nama Mane serves Kannadiga Food, which can be classified predominantly as:

1)      The Udupi… Vegetarian food (Udupi District)

2)      The Mangalorean…. Coastal food with Coconut and Kokum (Mangalore District)

3)      The Kundapur Food…..  a little Muslim cuisine, Maratha and local Kannadiga ( Mysore and around)

4)      The Coorgi Food…. Game, pork, spicy ( Coorg- of course)

Nama Mane is  more the Kundapur style but serves Ragi Balls with  Curried lamb chops, Biryani rice with Chilly Chicken (my favorite, it’s not Chinese as the name suggests), rice with Special Chicken they also do  liver fry, mutton fry,kidneys, intestine and brain all curried and fry versions. It is located opposite Mallige Hospital on the Crescent Road close to the Bangalore Golf Club. The lads had already done course full of organ meats and were waiting for us for round two I was one round one they on round two. Whilst, I ate hungrily, they ate elegantly.

The food is superlative, it’s piping hot, chicken and lamb dishes are to die for spicy, flavorful, comes with an onion and cucumber raita. I was also introduced to the famed ragi balls or ragi mude (balls with the size of tennis balls made out of ground and salted finger millet). The bland ragi balls go very well with the spicy mutton and chicken dishes.

Our Limousine drive, otherwise a veteran of the area did not know the place existed and was excited to share that he had just eaten a childhood favorite if his Ragi mudde with tripe curry (intestine curry).

A fine meal for two with mineral water and Thumbs up is about Rs 350/-. Fantastic and the taste and flavor lingers on.

Advantage, Abhijit, Rajbansh and Sunanth. You probably will win this round. I was so excited about this place that I even took an ex colleague with me to Nama Mane on my next trip to Bangalore. Hats off.