Archive for May, 2007

What am I eating? And where did it come from?

These two simple questions were usually treated differently by different publications. The food critic would deal with the first; the agriculture correspondent with the second. Rarely were the two questions addressed by the same person.

“The world of food reporting had been divided. You’d have an agriculture reporter who didn’t understand how a kitchen worked and a reporter covering hunger who might not understand what it took to put food on the table at night. Newspapers today are really bringing all of that together.”

Result: Ethics has become a staple of contemporary food writing.

Read the full story here: Grub street


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How to make tofu stir fry, rice and lassi

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Five easy steps to make eggless banana cake

A usual lament of vegetarians, especially of the strict variety, is that they have far fewer options unlike their  carnivorous counterparts. While the non-vegetarians tuck into this, that and the other, vegetarians are left making strange noises. The problem gets worse if even eggs are a strict no-no.

HEMLATA MORO whips up an easy 5-step recipe for eggless banana cake that should answer the prayers of some vegetarians.



2 cups wheat flour

2 table spoon baking powder + half tea spoon baking soda

3 tea spoon cocoa powder

1 cup sugar

Half a cup oil (any refined oil)

Half tea spoon salt

Condensed milk half a tin

3 ripe bananas of bigger variety, which can be mashed easily

A little warm milk

Half a cup of small pieces of cashewnuts


1. Sift slowly the first three items i.e. flour, soda and cocoa powder 2-3 times

2. Mix the sugar and oil well with a little salt till the sugar starts melting. Add this to the sifted flour

3. Mash bananas very finely, add half a tin of condensed milk, mix well. Add this to above mixture. Add cashew pieces and stir well. Add little warm milk and blend well so that you can pour it in a bowl to be put in the microwave oven.

4. Grease bowl with oil, and dust it with flour, before pouring cake mix.

5. Put it in the Microwave oven on a rack for 8 minutes. Five minutes to cool off. Take it out and cool it well to cut it into pieces.

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Real estate sharks gobbling up our best eateries

D.P. SATISH of CNN-IBN writes: Whenever I visit my home state, Karnataka, friends and relatives helpfully ask, “Why don’t you come back to Bangalore? You can happily eat idli, dosa, mosaranna and chitranna. Why do you suffer in hot and dusty Delhi, eating the same roti and sabzi day in and day out?”

Good, heart warming advice for a hardcore Kannadiga like me indeed. But is food the only attraction in Bangalore? Certainly not. But surely it is one of the best things about Bangalore.

At least it was.

The city has a hundred labels: Garden City, Knowledge City, IT City, and Pub City… But Food City describes Bangalore better than all other labels.

Sadly, though, the best eateries of Bangalore are dying.

Bangalore’s famed hotels (so called by Kannadigas even if they offer only food and no lodging!) are disappearing one after another.

These hotels are not just eating places. They are institutions. When two Bangaloreans settle down for snacks (favourite dosa, idli, vada or ambode) or coffee, they don’t just share what is served. They share a cultural outlook. These hotels gave birth to many literary and cultural movements in the state.

Who doesn’t know Vidhyarthi Bhawan in Gandhi Bazar, its crisp masala dosa and rava vada?

I still remember the day I entered Vidhyarthi Bhawan through its back door with the legendary journalist, the late Y.N. Krishnamurthy (popularly known as YNK), on a cold morning. In fact YNK was the last word on eateries and watering holes in Bangalore, and to him I owe my knowledge of hotels in Bangalore!

It was a great centre of intellectual debates, literary discussions, and a meeting place for the Who’s Who of Kannada literature and culture till recently. Giants like D.V. Gundappa to Masti, Girish Karnad to U.R. Ananthamurthy, Raj Kumar to Shankar Nag, cricket legends E.A.S. Prasanna, B.S. Chandrashekhar to G.R. Vishwanath were regular visitors to this small, low roofed, Mangalore-tiled hotel.

The hotel survives. But sadly its decline has already begun.

Brahmins Coffee Bar in Chamarajpet is the best place for idli and vada in Bangalore. This cramped eatery does roaring business even today. But it seems to have lost its old charm and its celebrity visitors.

Dwaraka Hotel on Bull Temple Road was once synonymous with the finest khali dosa. It has already made way for a multi-storey building.

The magnificent ‘Victoria Hotel’ opposite Mayo hall made way for an ugly, multi-storey mall, five years back. The great prime minister of England and a celebrated Bangalorean Winston Churchill was its regular visitor between 1890-1910. It was one of the most beautiful buildings in Bangalore.

If you live around Sajjan Rao circle and Minerva Circle, you are sure to be familiar with New Modern Hotel (NMH). Thoughts of its dosa and plate oota (or what the northerners call a thali meal) make me ravenous even as I write this in Delhi in the middle of a hot summer night.

NMH was once a meeting place for Kannada cinema stalwarts. The new stars turned their backs on this hotel decades ago. It is now struggling for survival.

Janatha Hotel, which is just a few feet from NMH, is also counting its last days.

VB Bakery at Sajjan Rao Circle is no longer a hot favourite of old Bangalore. Today’s yuppie crowd has no time or taste for old-fashioned bakery stuff! It was the cricketer Anil Kumble‘s favourite haunt during his National College days.

Fort Lunch Home opposite the Bangalore Fort has now become a part of history.

Where do you go, if you want to taste an authentic Mysore meal on MG Road? Brindavana Hotel next to Sympony cinema is the obvious choice. This hotel, too, is on the way out. I hear the owner is planning to build a huge shopping mall there. It makes business sense to pull it down to build a mall. But such demolitions most certainly sadden old and true Bangalorean hearts.

Another old hotel serving an Udupi menu in neighbouring Ulsoor downed its shutters a month ago. Komal Hotel at the junction of Wheelers Road and Assaye road may live at best for another two or three years.

Big names like MTR, Janardhana Hotel, Udupi Krishna Bhavan, Sri Sagar (Malleswaram), Krishna Bhavan, Airlines Hotel, nearly 200-year-old Dewars Bar (known as Bangalore’s first bar !), road side eateries at Sajjan Rao circle and idli, dosa night hotels on Ibrahim Sahib street, many old hotels on the three-century-old Avenue road and historic India Coffee House on M.G. road also look like they are past their glory days, and are waiting to shut down.

Who is responsible for the death of these eateries?

Has the Bangalorean stopped eating out?

The booming restaurant business in Bangalore tells a different story.

As the city grew, its demographic profile altered. New people, new jobs and an entirely new lifestyle brought new things into the city. Bangalore accepted them all. But tragically, it lost its old eating places to the real estate boom.

It is a sad story of real estate sharks eating Bangalore’s best eateries.

All these hotels are family run businesses. The younger generation is no longer interested in carrying forward the legacy of their fathers and forefathers. They have firmly set their eyes on real estate money or on bigger, better white collar jobs, which bring them social status and more money.

There’s nothing wrong with change. But some changes break your heart. Bangalore’s future looks like it will cleave the city into two. Two Bangalores living side by side, but strangers to one another.

We see it in the new cosmopolitan Bangalorean’s total ignorance of the old Bangalore world, of its language, of its writers, its traditions, its culture, and its eating habits. The growth of a city does not depend merely on its per capita income or its infrastructure. It has something called Soul.

As the noted novelist Shashi Deshpande says of change in Bangalore-Bean town to Boom town (edited by Jayanth Kodkani and R. Edwin Sudhir):

“It [change] generally happens over a period of time, giving room for assimilation, for absorption. In Bangalore it has been just too rapid, so that there are too many people who have no idea of its original culture and yet, because of their income and positions, have a great influence over the shape of the city and its future. And therefore the danger that it could be a city completely cut off from its past. An amnesiac city. “

When I return to Bangalore in future, I may have to be content with cappuccinno coffee and pizza, instead of traditional by-two coffee and dosa.

What a tragedy.

Cross-posted on churumuri

Also read: Gutter chicken: the Punjabification of our food

Country cuisine crashlands in new airport

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Unde makkalu: feeding the CM and his deputy

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: When H.D. Kumaraswamy and B.S. Yediyurappa decided to do a tango, a roadshow, to promote ‘Coalition dharma’ (pronounced and practiced as ‘Collision drama’), it opened a can of worms hitherto unforeseen  anywhere.

To be sure, there have been many coalition governments in the past pulling their hair in as many directions as the one seen in Delhi now. But, to see partners of the coalition eating, drinking and traveling ‘coalition’,  has driven pundits scurrying to the nearest library for reference of existence of such a case in past.

In Srirampura, Hassan, the Sudugadu Siddharu were racking the brains over the menu for next day for the CM and his Deputy. Additional Chief Secretary Palguni Rajkumar was at hand to plan out the Coalition Menu.

“What will you serve for breakfast for the First Couple of the Karnataka Government,” I asked.

“It will naturally reflect the collision drama. For breakfast, we are making idli, dosa sambhar, chutney, benne muruku, puulangay unde, hurigalu and menthyada kashaya. For lunch I want to serve mavinakayi chitranna, thouvve, nuchhina unde, majjige huli,  Payasa, chopsuey, Chow Fun rice noodles, Yang Chow fried rice topped with Peking Dust dessert.”

“Aren’t you combining items gastronomically poles apart?”

“We are. When you work together despite different ideologies, so is it with menus that are 180 degrees apart. I have combined breakfast and snacks together. For lunch I have combined our traditional items with Chinese menu. There are items which may not mix at all, but I am as eager as you are to see the end result.”

“Why kashaya?”

“This is a request from the Deputy CM to be served till October 2. He wants this served for all his meals. He doesn’t take water at all.”

“Why for CM also?”

“The Deputy wants to remind C.M. of this date every day.”

The Home Secretary was supervising the lunch in the afternoon. He had a measuring tape in his hand. The waiters were cutting the banana leaf after HS marked off the lengths.

He explained, “The C.M. gets 18”X24” leaf whereas the Deputy CM gets one which is 18”X20”. Don’t look at me like that! I am just following Lok Ayukta guidelines. I don’t want any trouble later on.”

“Can Deputy CM get the same helpings as the CM?”

“Yes, except, sweets. He will get one serving less than whatever CM takes. The waiters will keep track of the count. For lunch, they will have cotton candy and pakampoppu as coalition dessert. CM can give his share to his Deputy. That won’t be counted.”

At night Sudugadu Siddharu were making preparations for their VVIP Guests. Palguni Rajkumar was again supervising the scene.

“This is the ticklish part. I have to ensure the couple gets good sleep and at the same time follow Lok Ayukta rulebook. If I err here, it might affect the coalition.”

“That’s true. How are you tackling this?”

“Chescom have put a transformer for the night, so we have electricity. I have put an AC where the CM will sleep on an 18” thick foam bed. He will have two pillows.”

“What about the Deputy?”

“As per BJP tradition, he will sleep on the floor on deer skin over coir mattress. The prescribed thickness for his bed is 10″. We will keep a cooler in his room and give him a cotton pillow. I hope they both sleep well and get recharged by morning.”

“Will they drink anything before they go to sleep?”

“Yes. Jeerige kashaya. Here Deputy CM gets two glasses, whereas the CM gets only one glass. CM reversed Lok Ayukta’s rulebook for this which is to be to be followed till October 2.”

Cross-posted on churumuri

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The sky’s the limit for a mile-high experience

It’s been ranked among the ten most unusual restaurants. A crane takes you and your table 150 feet into the air. You wear seat belts, and you hope your guests do not suffer from vertigo. Or that the waiters do not run out of salt or pepper or something. And you wonder, how much sooner before some genius is inspired enough to go 150 feet deep.

Read the full story: Pie in the sky: the 150 feet high restaurant

Linka via India Uncut

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