Adiga’s

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In Malleswaram there are a large number of sagar shops where you can get quick, delicious south Indian fare. One of our favorites is Adiga’s, located just around the corner from Sean and Archana’s place.

The main floor is typical of a sagar shop (or “hotel”), if a bit larger than most. You order near the entrance from the cashier, pay, and receive a number of receipts. Each receipt needs to be taken to the appropriate station (e.g. dosa, meals, idly, roti), where a worker will  magically turn your receipt into the dishes listed. At both stages, it’s important to know how to deal with an IndiaQueue. Once you’ve obtained your meal, you grab a section of long, shared countertops and dig in while standing.

On this trip, Archana introduced us to the upstairs “restaurant” part of Adiga’s, which I didn’t even know existed. The upstairs experience is less busy – you are seated at your own table, given a menu, and served by a waiter. The choices are similar, though some smaller items such as roti curry are replaced with larger variations such as dal fry. Prices are higher since portions are bigger and you are getting table service, but it’s a nicer environment to linger in. I enjoyed the experience, though my favorite part of Adiga’s is still the ground floor with its communal feel.

Overall, Adiga’s is a great stop for a quick meal of south Indian favorites. In particular, their roti curry, rava idly, and special dosai are my favorites. I also like stealing a few bites of Sean’s ever-present channa batura.

Happy to be at Adigas
Enjoying an assortment of goodies for lunch

Sean with his channa batura Lauren and her roti curry
Sean with channa batura and south Indian coffee, Lauren with roti curry

Palak Dosa
Palak dosa

Rava idly
Rava idly

Adiga’s
Sampige Road at 15th Cross (+ other branches in the Bangalore area)
Bangalore, India 560003
+91 80 4153 5991

Daily: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Jamun

One fun change from our last visit to Bangalore is the availability of different fruits on the street. Mangoes are certainly getting prime billing, and there are at least three varieties on every block. However, there are also many carts peddling oblong, shiny black fruits called jamun. While I was unable to sample jamun-flavored ice cream last night at Natural (they were out of stock), we acquired some of the whole fruits on our way home from lunch this afternoon. The taste had some similarities to goumi, including the side-effect of drying out my mouth, though the overtones were mildly sweet instead of sour.

Street vendor
A jamun street vendor in Malleswaram

Jamun
Jamun!

Auspicious Dancing

Last night, Steve, Justin, Rachel, Lauren and I were walking around Malleswaram, and encountered an intersection filled with people. There were two portable shrines lit by small spotlights, live percussion music, and what I can roughly describe as an Indian mosh-pit in the middle.

In this part of town, a group of five white people clearly stand out. So when we stopped to check out the action, Steve was approached by a few locals and invited to dance. Later he quipped that his “many years of dancing at Phish shows prepared him for this moment.” Ultimately we were all sucked into the action, to the delight of all. I noticed numerous camera flashes going off, and we were surrounded by cheers and laughter. When we were finished dancing, a crowd peeled off with us and everyone wanted to shake our hands. Chandu, the owner of a restaurant overlooking the dancing, offered us a place to stay (we were covered), and cold Fantas (we couldn’t refuse).


Steve dancing with the locals

Shrine
Shrine

Our new friends
Our new friends

Kenny and Steve marked with powder
Proof of our adventure

Monsoon Wedding

This being the monsoon season, Sean and Archana’s wedding reception last night required a few last minute changes due to a prolonged rainstorm. They were forced to abandon their beautiful setup on the lawn in favor of an alternate beautiful setup in the bar area, which offered a bit more protection from the dampness. Archana looked amazing in a blue and gold saree that her mother had designed for the occasion, and Sean was looking dapper in a suit. We were treated to some excellent performances by S & A’s friends and family, as a sort of informal sangeet. We even threw something together ourselves, dubbed “Jai Hora”.

Sean and Archana at reception
Sean and Archana enjoying the sangeet

By this morning, the storm had passed, and the sun shone brightly for the wedding ceremony. Archana had spent months preparing the landscaping in the front garden of her parents’ house for the occasion. Today it was beautifully decorated with orange and white streamers, jasmine, and marigolds, and the grass was strewn with orange cushions for the guests.

Of course, many of us foreigners were a bit confused at various times during the ceremony, but the couple had compiled a comprehensive program that helped us follow along as best we could.

Sridhar taking photos
Sridhar playing photographer, which his daughter apparently found amusing

Bride and groom
Bride and groom

Father and groom
Father and groom

Puffed rice
Dropping puffed rice into the fire

Streamers

Kenny and Lauren

After the ceremony, we enjoyed a delicious and abundant vegetarian banana leaf feast in a tent that had been set up just across the street.

This may sound like it’s been an epic celebration already, but the festivities aren’t over yet! Tonight there will be a party for the “kids” at Jaaga, and then we all take off for a Jungle Retreat weekend early tomorrow morning.

Hallimane

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Hallimane was one of the best restaurants that Archana introduced me and Kenny to last fall, and we returned this week with our Seattle friends for a decadent lunch feast. It is conveniently located in Malleswaram, just a short walk from Sean and Archana’s apartment and an even shorter walk from the wedding hotel.

Its name is Kannada for “village house,” indicating that the menu features the typical foods of rural Karnataka. Of course, for variety, there is also an array of North Indian dishes available, but everything is vegetarian.

Like many casual lunch joints here in Bangalore, Hallimane has a system where customers order and pay at the counter and then deliver receipts to various stations to collect their food. Most hot dishes can be picked up indoors, while ragi and akki rotis as well as parotas must be collected from the men working the flat grill outside. Because Hallimane is always packed, this process involves elbowing your way through throngs of people, and is not recommended for claustrophobics.

Two of their signature dishes are made of ragi, the grain of Karnataka: ragi roti, and ragi mudde, which is a mushy steamed ball of grain. The mudde was certainly not for me, but Kenny and I love love loved the roti, which is made from a batter that includes onions, chilies and dill. We even tried making our own in Archana’s kitchen last fall, but had problems with the rotis falling apart. Thus was born our invention of the ragi waffle.

On our visit with the Seattle friends, we devoured a huge two-round feast, including several orders of ragi roti, two akki roti (made of rice flour), two aloo parota, one ragi mudde for everyone to try (no one enjoyed it much more than I had on the first visit), and a rava idly. We even tried a couple of North Indian dishes this time – channa masala, shahi paneer, naan, and kulcha – and they were excellent, probably the best North Indian I’ve had in Bangalore. For less than $2/person everyone was in food heaven, followed by a huge food coma that threatened to impede our last-minute wedding reception shopping.

Overall, it was an epic food day, starting with Veena for breakfast, continuing with Hallimane for lunch, and finishing off with a huge dinner buffet at Jayamahal for Sean and Archana’s wedding reception.

Lunch at Hallimane
Mini-feast at Hallimane with Kenny and Archana last fall

Kenny and Archana
Kenny and Archana love Hallimane

Hallimane feast
Hallimane feast with the Seattle friends

Hallimane chefs
These guys make the delicious ragi and akki rotis

Hallimane
3rd cross Sampige Road
Malleswaram
Bangalore, India 560003
+91-80-65611222

Veena Stores

Rating:

A block from Sean and Archana’s place is a little South Indian food stall, Veena Idly.  Sean took us there on our first morning in Bangalore. I remember enjoying it, but my memories of that breakfast were quite hazy due to our exhausting travel day.

For some reason, we didn’t make it back to Veena until yesterday. I’m not sure why, as we talked about going a bunch. Maybe it’s the same reason that Floridians never use the pool in their backyard. One day while driving to work, we even ad-libbed a jingle for Veena. I think it went something like this (it changed a bit every time):

Veena Idly, for all your idly needs
Veena Idly, hooray for you and me
Veena Idly, for all your idly needs
I want some Veena Idly! (and vada too!)

However, we did have our final two Bangalore breakfasts at Veena, and they were fantastic. The menu is similar to many other south Indian breakfast stalls, but the execution was far above the competition. Someone said they have a special high-end idly steamer. I don’t know what it is, but I do know that I love it.

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Idly/vada, the classic south Indian breakfast served with amazing coconut chutney

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Chow chow bath. There are two sections, sweet and a savory. You are supposed to get a little of each part in each bite.

Veena Idly Archana and her idly vada

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Veena Idly
No. 183, 15th Cross, Margosa Road
Malleshwaram, Bangalore, India 560 055
+91 23344838

Daily: Breakfast, Lunch

Kanya

Last weekend we went shopping for wedding clothes for Chandrika and Kirill’s Bangalore wedding. After a bit of browsing in the fancy saree shops on MG Road (including Deepam, where we acquired Kenny’s sherwani), I determined that I wanted a woven silk saree. It turns out this is a very traditional South Indian style, and Archana’s mother’s saree shop specializes in this very thing. Sean also assured us that Archana’s mother’s designs were much nicer.

Archana took me to her family’s house the next day to browse. The saree shop – called Kanya — is a small storeroom in their house lined with lockers, full to the brim with beautiful hand-woven Kanjeevaram silk sarees. Archana’s mother, Pramila Prasad, designs the sarees herself and employs a team of weavers who make the sarees. She told us that the designs often come to her while she is dreaming.

I had originally planned to purchase one saree, but in the end it was difficult to narrow my choices down to just two. ;)

A short description of the shop from the Bangalore City Project’s Malleswaram City Walk:

This saree boutique was founded by Ammani Iyengar in 1930 and is now run by her daughter-in-law Pramila Prasad. Smt. Ammani Iyengar, a lady with keen business acumen, started a chit fund to enable the women in the neighbourhood to purchase her Kanjeevaram sarees. She had her looms in Kanchipuram and designed them herself. The 110+ year old house in which this boutique is run, was originally the coach house to the property that belonged to her father-in-law Venkatranga Iyengar, one of the founders of Malleswaram. Her son Mr. S R Krishna Prasad continues to live here with his family.

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Me and Pramila before the wedding reception. She gave me an expert lesson on how to drape the saree (we’ll see if I can actually do it without her…)

Pressure Cooker Pumpkin Puree

As Kenny mentioned, our culinary experiments in India have often led us to source many of the constituent ingredients of our recipes the old-fashioned way. The dishes we prepared for Thanksgiving were no exception, and I was determined that the absence of canned pumpkin puree at our local grocery store was not going to prevent us from eating delicious pumpkin waffles for dessert (we don’t have an oven, so no pies for us, but we did discover Archana’s waffle iron a few days ago). We acquired a beautiful pumpkin from the local produce market in Malleshwaram and resolved to make the puree ourselves.

Of course most pumpkin puree recipes on the interwebs (including this one, which I used for inspiration) involve the use of an oven, which we don’t have. But my time in India has firmly convinced me that there’s pretty much no culinary problem that a pressure cooker can’t solve. Conveniently enough, Sean and Kenny had just purchased a 12L pressure cooker for the turkey, which was just perfect for the pumpkin.

First I cut it in half and removed the stringy stuff and the seeds (which I put aside for delicious toasted garam masala pumpkin seeds later). Then I hacked it up into smaller pieces, and into the pressure cooker it went, with about 3 cups of water. About 20 minutes later I had the “meltingly soft” pumpkin that every recipe demands. After it cooled, it went into the food processor, and then we mixed up the waffle batter. The end result was delicious, and further cemented my belief in the magical powers of the pressure cooker.

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Bisected pumpkin

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All cleaned up and ready for the pressure cooker

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In it goes!

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Delicious pumpkin waffles, garnished with ice cream, cinnamon, and red Kerala bananas (my favorite!)

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Garam masala pumpkin seeds

Vada Channa Stuffing

After perusing a few Thanksgiving stuffing recipes and feeling completely uninspired, Kenny and I decided to attempt an Indian stuffing. Here’s what we came up with. The end result actually tasted remarkably like a Thanksgiving stuffing, but with some Indian flavor.

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Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of gobi (cauliflower)
  • 1/4 kg lady fingers (okra)
  • 2 small red onions
  • 1 package of MTR Channa Masala (or you can be less lazy than us and make it yourself; we were running out of time with all of our other Thanksgiving prep and decided to take a delicious shortcut)
  • 12 small vadas (we got frozen ones; fresh vadas from a local shop would probably be better)
  • 2 eggs
  • Coconut oil

Instructions
In a large skillet, warm 1 tbsp coconut oil over medium heat. Add onion, cauliflower, and okra, and saute for 5 minutes or until tender. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Crumble the vadas into a large bowl. Add sauteed vegetables to the crumbs. Stir in the beaten eggs and mix well. Then add the channa and mix well.

Transfer the mixture to a large pot, and cook covered on medium heat for about an hour (even better,  use an oven if you have one). Cut into pieces and garnish with curry leaves to serve.

Pressure Cooker Turkey

Sean really wanted to have turkey at Thanksgiving dinner this year, so we spent some time brainstorming viable cooking options in this oven-free city. Our final candidate list included grilling (we’d need to acquire a very large grill), my father’s tried and true trash-can method, or just treat it like many Indian dishes and pressure cook the bird. For cost and safety reasons we dismissed the otherwise compelling Southern favorite option of deep-fried turkey.

First stop: Metro (the Indian version of Costco) to acquire a turkey. Metro had two types of turkeys: local or imported. While the imported turkeys were certainly more plump, something felt wrong (in addition to the 3x price tag) about using an imported turkey. So we picked up a seven kilo local turkey, from which they kindly removed the head and feet at our request.

After also acquiring the requisite Heritage Wine for the evening, we trolled the aisles looking for an appropriately sized cooking implement. The closest thing we found to a metal trashcan was a large cylindrical metal bowl which was (a) quite pricey and (b) probably still too short to adequately hold our turkey. As there were no grills to come by, our decision was easy: one 12 liter pressure cooker it was.

We put together a marinade of local ingredients, and used it to pressure cook the turkey. On the plus side, it was enormously efficient – the turkey was fully cooked in about an hour and a half, a fraction of the time it would have taken in the oven. On the other hand, it tasted a little, well, chewy. Whether this was from the cooking method, the lack of marinade injection or the texture of a local turkey we will never know.

Turkey chefs
The turkey chefs ready for business

Turkey marinade
The turkey marinade: Kingfisher, apple-pear juice, onions, curry leaves, green chilies, and other good stuff

Marinating the turkey
We thought about injecting the turkey with our marinade, but settled on the more standard “let-soak” method

MY turkey
‘Zis turkey will be ‘ze finest in Malleswaram

Turkey in the pressure cooker
Fortunately we opted for the local turkey; I don’t think the imported one would have fit into our pressure cooker