Food

Mangoes in the city

Mangoes are plenty in the city this year, some artificially ripened and some natural. One of the best ways to purchase natural mangoes is to opt for mela,exhibitions conducted by Horticultural departments and farms. Quite recently the Hesarghatta farm had displayed a wide variety of mangoes and jackfruits all organic and natural. And now Lalbagh Horticultural department has done the same- providing a wide platform for farmers from Dodaballapur, Chintamni – all nearby villages to sell their wares. In our Lalbagh walk this week we had glimpse of some of them. And my, weren’t they delicious. Here are some famous varieties available in Bangalore this season.

Alphonso:

Named after a portugese  -Afonso de Albuquerque, this yellowish mango is most sought after for its fleshy pulp and thickness. Considered one of the most expensive fruits, it has got the distinction of getting a GI tag too. Devag and Sindhudurg Alphonso from Maharashtra have bagged this credit. The Badami variety is a local version of the same.

Mallika:

This is a hybrid mango variety, has a bright yellow color and is delicious sweet variety of mango. It is obtained from two varieties Neelam and Dasheri.

Raspuri:

Grown in and around Bangalore, this reddish yellow fruit is one of the first varieties of mangoes to arrive in the city. Quite juicy in nature it is also named as sweet mango.

Imam Pasand:

The sweet, yellowish fruit with a very soft skin has a huge following. It is quite expensive too. Its other name is Himayat and it has very short season May-June.Some say it was the favorite of Humayun and so the name perhaps was Humayun Pasand.

Neelam:

This bright yellow fruit  is pretty inexpensive compared to its counterparts. Though less fleshy, its aromatic flavor can pull you from anywhere. The fruit comes to the city from Kolar.

Malgoa:

A heavy fruit, this variety is quite popular in the State. Named the Alphonso of the South, it is fleshy and sweet and has been transplanted to other countries like Florida.

Sindura:

Also known as honey mangoes due to its taste, it is one mango which is easily recognized thanks to its pleasing rose and green colors. These mangoes however do not last long and needs to be consumed within 2-3 days of purchase.

There are others like Banganapalli from Andhra Pradesh, Kesar from Gujarat, Dasheri from UP, Haryana etc that have found loyal following in the city. With so much varieties you would have thought that the mela would see a huge gathering. However the farmers whom I spoke gave me a different picture. ‘This time the demand for mangoes is less. The season was delayed, perhaps that is why the less demand,’ lamented a farm lady. ‘ I have even reduced the prices from 150 to 100 for Imam Pasand,’ she added.  The same was true for jackfruits. I saw plenty lying rotten. ‘ No demand madam, we cannot help but let the fruits rot’, said a young man.

Ah, well may be the Nipah scare has gotten in to people. But  for me it didn’t matter though. I got some juicy Alphonso and Sindura at half the rate and left for home.

–Usha

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Fraser Town Food Trail with Gang Of Dusters

A 30 member team of Dusters gathered around Xavier’s Cathedral at 4:30 pm. The agenda was the most awaited Fraser Town Food Trail. The trail promised Syrian Christian goodies, Aflatoon cakes, Middle East Platters not to mention Biryanis.  Here is a brief glimpse of the Food walk conducted yesterday.

 

Gyan on Cant History

A little introduction, a brief travel in to Cantonment history at the Church, the motley group of family and kids set foot inside the church. The church itself is beautiful with Corinthian Capitals, stained glass windows but with a small wedding happening it was even more so.

A short glimpse of the wedding, we headed out in to the sunshine to savor some goodies.  The bubbly Vidya mesmerized the foodies through her short and long tales.

Finally with a satiated smile and a content stomach we dispersed. Here is a sample of treats that we gorged on.

If you would like to join the fun then register for our delightful and engaging food  and heritage trails.

–Usha

 

Unhurried walk with Nestaway

We had a gala time last Sunday with Nestaway. Some 27 walkers joined us  on a Sultan Tour to understand Tipu Sultan-King Of Mysore a bit. The half a day tour encompassed cycling and walking through some beautiful hidden places of Bangalore.

tipu-summer-palace

After a brief stop over at the Summer Palace where the participants came to know the life and times about  the ruler, his ingenious warfare methods like the beloved Tipu’s rockets ,they then headed out to Tipu’s armoury at Kalasipalyam.  Tipu built ten armouries during his time, most of them at Srirangapatna. The one in the city is more than 200 years old. Pity it is not in a great shape. “People were playing cards here. The yesteryear ammunition dump has now become a garbage dump with plastics, bottles all thrown around,” said Arman a Nestie.

PC: On a Pedal

The next pitstop was at Siddapura Nursery where the green thumb of everyone became visible. After a refreshing hob -nob at the nursery, some came back armed with saplings to tend them at home. We then cycled back to Lalbagh.

PC: On a Pedal

A two hour unhurried walk at Lalbagh gave the walkers a glimpse of the times of Hyder and Tipu and their passion for horticulture. The once 40 acre garden due to the interests of these rulers and the vision of the British superintendents who came after them has today blossomed in to a 240 acre park with more than 1858 species of plants. While there was a sense of awe standing beneath the majestic Silk Cotton Tree, and amazement looking at the 400+ old Kempegowda’s watch tower, there were sniggers while passing by Rain tree, when the walkers understood how it got the name.

The walk was fruitful. The participants from all over India- Jammu,Allahabad,Kanpur,Nagpur,Kerala,Hyderabad etc got a glimpse of the Bangalore past. Mavalli Kere made them recollect the existing lakes in the city. When they realized that Bangalore hosted 262 lakes in 1960 and now it had dwindled to 34 lakes there was a sense of loss. Why was it called Pensioner’s paradise? What led to the unplanned growth in the city? These were some interesting questions that popped up after this.

After this action packed tour, we reached VV Puram Chat Street to fill ourselves. The yummy masala dosa,the spicy curd kodubale and sinfully wicked Gulkand ice cream more than made up for our tiredness.

If you would like to join in the fun then why not book a city walk with us?

–Usha

Mango and Jackfruit Mela at Lalbagh

Mangoes and Jack fruits have arrived at Lalbagh.

mango mela

The sheer range of varieties is mind boggling. Some I had heard of Mallika,Badami,Alphonso,Raspuri,Totapuri,Neelum to name a few. But the others -Lilly, Panchavarnam, Sendhura, Terpentine- never heard of them. So much of yellow and so much fragrance all around me. It was a sheer delight to the senses.

Quite a number of places in Karnataka grow mangoes. Kolar,Tumkur, Ramanagar,Mandya,Hassan to name a few. Good rains yield great mangoes as these fruits are essentially rain fed. Lack of water has been a concern for mango growth as well. ” Water has been insufficient and as we have 500 acres of farm near Kolar we have to call in tankers,” says a organic farmer from this district. She convinced me to buy a locally grown variety Sakkare Guthi.  It tastes like sugar was her argument.

Mangoes

There were numerous stalls. Farmers from Tumkur, Madugiri, Srinivaspura,Chintamani etc touted their wares proclaiming them organic and chemical free. The major varieties had huge demand especially the Alphonso and Bangaloreans tucked with Alphonso boxes was a common  sight.

Tumkur Mangoes

Near the glass house were the Jackfruit stalls. Chandra and Haladi Halasu(Jackfruit) were in high demand. The farmers I spoke to mentioned that the Chandra Halasu were slightly more in demand because of its red fleshed color. ” The taste of the common yellow variety is more. Yet the Chandra Halasu is the one people ask for as it is rare,” said a farmer from Doddaballapura. They are more expensive too.

Besides the Mango and Jackfruits there were pickles and chikki stalls too. The Mela is ongoing till the end of this month. So do visit and enjoy these summer fruits of the city.

–Usha

 

 

 

VV Puram -blissfully delightful

I bite in to the soft Congress Bun and I am in the seventh heaven. This is the first time I have had this, that too in one of the oldest bakeries of Bangalore-the VB Bakery.  And there is only one word for this bun filled with spicy peanuts and butter-exquisite!

Congress Bun

For more than a decade I have lived and worked in Bangalore but I never did visit VV Puram eat/thindi street. This week I had an opportunity to do so but unfortunately it was midday when I visited this place. So the popular shops that dishes out Avarekalu dosa and curd Kodubale(crispy snack) had to be skipped. But there were still a couple of shops open and I was content sampling that.

VV Puram thindi street

My first stop was of course at the VB Bakery. After gorging on the bun and the pleasant fruit cake I bumped in to one of the proprietors. A quick chat with him revealed that the bakery was gearing up to celebrate its 70th year in Bangalore. ” “We are busy making preparations for the event. Ours is the oldest bakery to be opened here at VV Puram,”recalled the owner proudly. They used to supply Garlic bread to Pizza outlets. Khara bun Congress was their avishkar! The sweet damrot prepared with pumpkin is not to be missed either.

Holige

A quick cross over from VB and I had a hot bite of freshly prepared Holige(sweet flat bread) at the outlet- Shree Vasavi Condiments. With dexterity the cook was filling yellow gram, Jaggery stuffing in to the holige ball, patting it skilfully and dropping it in to the flat top grill. 12 holiges in less than a minute, beats the 2 minute maggie ad any day:-)

With the Averekalu(Hyacinth Beans) season beginning, the Belle Nipatu(crispy snack) with generous dose of this beans is also a worthy bite. I wanted a pack of 10 but I didn’t get any. The reason ” Hot illa madam, swalpa kaya beku(The goodies are not hot madam, wait for sometime),” was the shop’s response. Ever been turned out because a shop did not have freshly made stuff for you?

After that I did not get the popular curd Kodubale or the Avarekalu dosas anywhere. The shops all serve these delicacies after six.  But I was not disheartened.

Gulkand at VV Puram:

Gulkand

I got my favorite Gulkand with a dollop of ice cream and fruits at the Shivanna Gulkand shop. U mm…. heaven  with dates, sweet gooseberry, banana, cherry with a generous dose of vanilla flavored ice cream. Sinfully wicked I say and you gotta try it. ” Madam we export our Gulkand and the masala mix to other countries,” said the owner proudly as he counted my change. The Pepsi and other drinks you get here has a twist. The masala mix is generously sprinkled on it making it a Pepsi Masala.

There is of course the Dosas, Thatte Idlis, corns,noodles and chats. A person visiting this little street can happily spend 2-3 hours gorging on the snacks. But if you wish for some long, short tales to go along with it then join Unhurried Food walks and you will not be disappointed.

–Usha

 

 

Three reasons to check out the Military Hotel

Messy,dingy, unhygienic- if these are the words you associate with Military hotels then it is high time you change this notion. A Walk last week with Vidya soon changed my concept of Military Hotels.

Military Hotels were something I stared at while driving through highways. Small tables and chairs crowded in a single room giving a non assuming appearance,  the meat and egg dishes affordable and fulfilling for all the travelers who were cool enough to overlook its appearance. My thoughts about such outlets were not always good, I am ashamed to say. But things changed with a visit to Banashankari.

urundai-curry-or-kaima-unde-curry

After a quick visit to the Banashankari Amma temple we set out on a good 3-4 hour walk and here is what I discovered.

–>The origins of Military Hotel of Bangalore is shouldered in a mystery. There are several versions floating out there, each more captivating then the other. But the stories are definitely interesting from the Maratha’s to the Tipoo Sahib.

naidu-biryani

–>There are huge variations in Hindu and Muslim Military styled hotels. You can clearly distinguish this in their cooking and the dishes you are served with. With a food blogger with me who tastes each grain of the food as if it was her last on the earth, I come to know these subtle differences quite forcibly:-)

–>Military Hotels are not just meat and egg dishes. Each hotel I am taken to has a large range of dishes from Ragi Mude, Paya soup to Mutton Biriyani and Kheema. The owners take pride in talking about each dish. And many seem to be regulars here with the waiters at ease with the customers, serving them their favorites which they routinely  ask for.

chilly-chicken

Today these hotels are no longer hole in the wall eateries. The popular ones have merged with the times dishing out hygienic healthy varieties in air conditioned rooms or at least in wide sunlit rooms reflecting a fresh ambiance. So go check out some of these traditions of old Bangalore before they too disappear in this burgeoning city. Or come with us on a Military Hotel walk and discover the joys of eating.

–Usha

 

 

 

 

Basavanagudi and its charms

Basavanagui is full of secrets. The town looks sleepy but it isn’t. Looks are deceptive I discover as I trudge past its numerous tree laden streets,old homes, bungalows, bazaar and temples.

As I walk down the Bull Temple Road I hit the Nandi temple. I ascend the stone steps and greet the huge granite statue of Nandi the bull.

Bull temple

Bull temple

One of the largest idols of Nandi in Karnataka, the black Nandi idol is impressive. Poornima later tells me that the granite idol has been rubbed constantly by charcoal and oil to keep it dark. As I circle the  Nandi there is another secret I discover.   Beneath me runs a stream that is a part of Vrishabhavati river. Ya the same dark murky waters that you see in Mysore Road sullied by the city it flows through.

bugle rock

I exit the temple and take a right towards the Bugle rock park. This place has its own set of secrets and it keeps it well hidden. One corner of the park has a 3000 million year old rock formation that holds one of the watch towers of Kempe Gowda. I climb the rock mound towards tower and gaze upwards. And what do I see? Two twinkling eyes of the bat stare right back at me. It is hung upside down as usual from a tree. That is when I realize that it is not alone. It has hundreds of companions, all lazily hanging down from the nearby Gulmohar and Eucalyptus trees. The Bugle rock is the abode of fruit bats.

As I slip out of the park I see a laughter club in action;senior citizens all laughing aloud, holding hands and stretching delightfully in this precious green space. As I walk out of this park I realize another thing. This park was an important part of history. During the 3rd Anglo Mysore war a section of Mysore army had collected here and had made their clandestine plans before they went on to attack the British.

I leave behind the tall shady trees and head to DVG Road towards the Bazaar- the go to place for all kannadigas or otherwise. Gandhi Bazaar is a bit like google. You want anything,you get it right there in its criss-cross colorful lanes.The grandma looking for the particular shade of blue for her royal silk saree, the mami looking for an exact kundan piece, the tired laborer looking for a hot cup of coffee and the school boys looking for their favorite ground nut ladoo and congress kadle- Gandhi Bazaar is a delight for people of all ages.

Gandhi Bazaar

Gandhi Bazaar

As I reach the Bazaar circle I head towards Srinivasa Stores, popularly known as Subbama stores. This small outlet is no secret though. With the shop getting featured regularly in a number of magazines and newspapers, people queue up here rattling of various delicacies like Chakuli,Kodbale, Khara, kadle, happala,unde etc.

As I have something more calorie filling in mind, I skip this place for now and drag my feet towards Vidyarthi Bhavan. This again is no secret. The crispy Dosas or the delicious Kesari Bath or the filter coffee you order, everything is done to perfection. This again is no surprise- the eatery has years of experience, say 1943.But what is surprising here is that most of the benches not to mention almera, is decades old so that the old timers feel right at home.

Masala dosa

With a satisfying breakfast that is easy on wallet I head for home with a light heart, the traffic, noise and the pollution no longer bothering me- Basavangudi has that effect on you.

There are more such hidden  nuggets in Basavangudi. But you will have to come on our Unhurried Basavangudi walks to discover that:-)

–Usha