वेलियनाडच्या आसपास

मी केरळ राज्यात, ज्याला God’s Own Country असेही म्हणतात, एक-दोनदा फिरलो आहे. दोन्हीवेळेस आधी कोचीला जाऊन मग पुढे गेलो आहे. माझी कोची आणि मग पुढे लक्षद्वीप भेटीबद्दल पूर्वी मी लिहिले आहेच. आज वेलियनाड नावाच्या गावात मी १० दिवस राहिलो होतो आणि आसपास भटकलो होतो, त्याबद्दल लिहिणार आहे.

मी वेलियनाड ह्या अनोळखी गावी जायचे काही कारण नव्हते. ते काही कुठल्याही tourist map वर नाही. मी गेलो होतो ते चिन्मय मिशनच्या Chinmay International Foundation नावाच्या संस्थेत एका अभ्यासक्रमाच्या निमित्ताने. कोची विमानतळापासून वेलियनाड(Veliyanad) हे गाव तसे थोडे लांबच आहे. कोचीला पोहचलो तेव्हा रात्र झाली होती. त्यामुळे वेलियनाडला जाई पर्यंतचा नजारा काही दिसला नाही. मुक्काम केंद्रातच होता. हे गाव म्हणजे आद्य शंकराचार्यांचे मातुल-ग्राम. सकाळी उठून पाहतो तर काय, अतिशय छान अशी केरळी तऱ्हेची घरे जी नक्षीदार लाकडी काम  यांनी सजलेली, नारळाची झाडी असलेले टुमदार गाव. ज्या झाडापासून साबूदाणा बनतो, ती  Tapioca झाडे बरीच आहेत तेथे. केंद्राचा परिसर देखील असाच रम्य आहे. आद्य शंकराचार्यांचे मातेचे घर, त्यात असलेले स्वामी चिन्मयानंदांचे ध्यानमंदिर, अय्यप्पाचे आणि नाग यक्षी यांचे केरळी मंदिर आहे. एका लाकडी बांधकाम असलेल्या आणि कौलारू छप्पर असलेल्या हॉलमध्ये दररोज सकाळी आणि दुपारी अभ्यासवर्ग असे. पहिल्याच दिवशी पाऊस सुरु झाला. माझ्या एकदम लक्षात आले, की त्या वर्षीचा मान्सुनचा पहिला पाऊस मी अनुभवतो आहे, कारण मी बरोबर जूनच्या पहिल्या आठवड्यात तेथे गेलो होतो आणि मान्सुन सुरु होणार होता.

दररोज सकाळी आणि संध्याकाळी जमेल तसे आम्ही आसपास भटकट असू. पहिल्या दिवशी काही जमले नाही, पण दुसऱ्या दिवशी आम्ही जवळच असलेल्या Peppathy गावात शिवाचे मंदिर पहायला गेलो, तसेच पुढे Pazhur गावातील Perumthikkovil हे नदी काठी असलेल्या बाराव्या शतकातील मंदिर पाहायला गेलो. दुसऱ्या दिवशी सकाळी लवकर उठून Pazhur गावातच पण Muvattupuzhla नदीच्या पलीकडे असलेले नृसिंह स्वामी मंदिर पाहायला गेलो. नंतर कोणीतरी आम्हाला त्या गावातील सुंदरन नावाच्या एका ज्योतिषाकडे देखील घेऊन गेले, ज्याचे भविष्य सांगण्याचे तंत्र वैशिष्ट्यपूर्ण आहे.

तिसऱ्या दिवशी कुठे जावू शकलो नाही. चौथ्या दिवशी दुपारनंतर, Thrippunithura या नावाच्या कोचीच्या उपनगरात Ameda Temple पाहायला गेलो, जे सप्तमातृका मंदिर आहे, तसेच जवळच असलेले Poornathrayessa Temple देखील बघितले जे विष्णूचे मंदिर आहे. केरळ मधील मंदिर स्थापत्य हा वेगळाच विषय आहे. Thrippunithura हे तसे ऐतिहासिक आहे, कोचीन राज्याची ती राजधानी आहे, आणि तेथे Hill Palace नावाचा राजवाडा आणि संग्रहालय आहे जे पाहायला आम्ही परत दुसऱ्या दिवशी तेथे गेलो. आद्य शंकराचार्यांचे जन्मस्थान असलेले कलाडी येथेही गेलो. जवळच असलेल्या Perumbavoor गावात्तील  Iringole Kavu जंगलात दुर्गेचे मंदिर आहे तेथेही गेलो. वेलियनाड जवळ Thirumarayoor नावाच्या गावातील रामस्वामी मंदिर पाहायला गेलो. Piravom गावातील एक जुने, पहिल्या शतकातील असे Syrian Church(St Mary’s Cathedral) आणि आत असलेली जुनी चित्रे देखील पाहायला मिळाली.

आमच्या अभ्यासक्रमाच्या शेवटच्या दिवशी संध्याकाळी, चिन्मय मिशनच्या केंद्रात असलेल्या अयप्पा  मंदिरात सहस्रदीप कार्यक्रम झाला, ज्यात संपूर्ण मंदिर उजळून निघाले, जे अपूर्व दृश्य होते. नंतर भजनाचा कार्यक्रम झाला. आश्चर्याची गोष्ट म्हणजे, गावात असलेले काही बंगाली कामगार गायनाच्या कार्यक्रमाला आले होते, ज्यांनी बंगाली गीते, बाऊल संगीत, कबीराचे दोहे वगैरे गायली, आणि त्या केरळी वातावरणातील संध्याकाळ अविस्मरणीय ठरली. दुसऱ्या दिवशी आम्हा सर्व सहापाठींनी अजून एक दिवस भटकंती करून पुढे आपापल्या गंतव्य स्थळी जावे असे ठरले आणि त्या प्रमाणे, Thrissur(erstwhile Trichur) जिल्यातील प्रसिद्ध गुरुवायुर मंदिरला भेट दिली. हे मंदिर त्यांच्या हत्तीशाळेसाठी प्रसिद्ध आहे. मंदिराच्या आवारात हत्तीची राहण्याची व्यवस्था आहे. मंदिरातच रात्रभर मुक्काम ठोकला. रात्री उशिरापर्यंत कोणीतरी केरळचा प्रसिद्ध शास्त्रीय नृत्याचा अविष्कार मोहिनीअट्टम् सादर करत होते. आणि नंतर आम्ही अगदी पहाटे पहाटे ३ वाजता कृष्णमंदिराचे दर्शन घेतले. त्यानंतर Thrissur शहरातील Vadakkumnathan Temple जे प्रसिद्ध असे प्राचीन शिवमंदिर आहे त्याला भेट दिली. कोची शहरात किल्ला, जुने चर्च वगैरे पाहून कोची विमानतळावर पुण्याकडे रवाना होण्यास धडकलो.

शेवटला, जाता जाता, चिन्मय मिशन मधील अभ्यासक्रम आणि तेथील खाद्य-भ्रमंती या बद्दल!  भारतीय तत्वज्ञान/दर्शनातील क्षेत्रातील न्यायदर्शनाच परिचय हा अभ्यासक्रम जो पुण्यातीलच संस्कृततज्ञ वसिष्ठ नारायण झा यांनी आखलेला, आयोजित केलेला होता. त्याबद्दल मी पूर्वी माझ्या ब्लॉगवर येथे लिहिले आहेच. केरळची जशी मंदिर वैशिष्ठ्यपूर्ण आहेत, तशीच तेथील खाद्य-संस्कृती देखील वेगळीच आहे. त्याबद्दल अगदी थोडेसे. चिन्मय मिशन केंद्रात तेथे आम्हाला सकाळी नाश्त्याला बऱ्याच पुट्टु हा पदार्थ, इडली, सागू, कुर्मा, तेथील इलायची केळी(ती पण कधी कच्ची, तर कधी उकडलेली!), फिल्टर कॉफी सोबत मिळत असे. दोन्ही वेळच्या जेवणात अर्थातच भात, भातच असे. लाल, जाडा भरडा अश्या तांदळाचा भात, पांढरा भात, सांबार, रसम्, भाजी, मस्त ओले खोबरे  वगैरे घातलेली, पायसम्, अवियल, कच्च्या केळ्याची भाजी, फणसाची भाजी, गोथांबू पायासम्, उन्नीयप्प्म नावाचे गोड पदार्थ इत्यादी. मी तेथून फिल्टर कॉफी तयार करण्याचे पात्र, तसेच पुट्टु तयार करण्याचे पात्र पुट्टुपात्र घेऊन आलो, आणि अधून मधून केरळची आठवण म्हणून ते पदार्थ करत असतो!

तर अशी ही माझी केरळची offbeat भटकंती, जी टूरिस्ट कंपन्याच्यापेक्षा कितीतरी वेगळी आणि समृद्ध करणारी!

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The K Factory: Upscale suburb’s upscale restro

Western areas of city of Pune have undergone enormous change over last decade and more. The areas of Aundh, Baner, Wakad, Hijawadi, Pimple Saudagar are the new upscale suburbs in the close proximity of IT park and various startups. Pune which is anyways was well known for its food culture, has grown even further, with many themed restaurants, bistros, specialty joints, hangout places, already dotted on the streets. This side of Pune even has its own high street-Balewadi High Street.

Other evening, we happened to be at similar upscale restro called The K Factory in Baner for a family food adventure. Yes, I call it food adventure. When I decide to eat out with family, I usually go for some unknown place and rather unknown food. I thought I should share my experience here. From the name, at least I got confused that it might be a kebab place. The adventure began right there! But it is not. I would say it is a fusion food restaurant. This fusion is not only in the items they serve, but also in their names too!

The location of the place is prime. It is right at the corner of road to Balewadi. See the map below.

The entrance slightly elevated with few steps to climb. It seems they have parking too at the basement. The green shaded signage board on the building is eye-catching. As you enter inside, you cannot miss the rustic look and feel of the restaurant. It was night time when we visited the place. The interior walls are unfinished, with bare-bone bricks still visible. The kitchen and counter is right near the main door, unlike other restaurants. The staff member wearing green t-shirt guided to our table. The table and seating was simple and comfortable. The moment we settled into them, we caught attention of big TV screen right in front of us. For a moment, I wondered whether we got into a sports bar or how.

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Then the menu arrived. And the table suddenly became lively, with comments about food which is store for us here. We prefer vegan food, and fortunately, we had many choices. The menu had sections titled Soups, Salads, Flatbreads, Charcoal Grill, Paranthas, Nigiri, Baps & Baguettes, Sides, Small Bites, Large Bites etc. We were six of us and after lot of deliberation we ordered six different items. We skipped soups and salads. Fusilli Pasta with white sauce and Mushroom/Lentil Tonak from Small Bites section, Italian Khichadi from Large Bites section, Tandoor Roasted from Flatbreads section, and two paranthas from Paranthas section. We liked the Tonak that we ordered it second time as well. The flat bread was really flat and thin, probably was not enough.

 

As I said the menu is loaded fusion. You can get Konkani flavors, Japanese flavors(Nigiri, Teriyaki), Italian, and all that by the way mixed. I wished the desserts menu was bit elaborate. We did not have many options, and finally settled on couple of smoothies. The right side of the menu(which is price) is moderate for sure for the experience we got. Give it a try!

आहुपे, भाग#२(रानभाजी महोत्सव)

माझ्या मागील ब्लॉग मध्ये आहुपे या आगळ्या वेगळ्या ठिकाणाच्या पावसाळी निसर्ग पर्यटनाचा अनुभव मी सांगितला होता. त्याच भटकंतीत अजून एक वेगळा अनुभव मी घेतला. वनवासी कल्याण अश्राम ही समाजसेवी संस्था गेली ५०-६० वर्षे वनवासी, आदिवासी बांधवांच्या प्रगतीसाठी, कल्याणासाठी, त्यांच्या हक्कांसाठी कार्य करते आहे. त्या संस्थेच्या पिंपरी-चिंचवड विभागातर्फे गेली दोन वर्षे रानभाजी महोत्सव असा आगळा वेगळा महोत्सव आहुपे, जुन्नर जवळील कुकडेश्वर आणि तळेरान या तीन ठिकाणी केला जातोय. त्याबद्दल खूप उत्सुकता होतीच. महाराष्ट्र सरकारची एक Tribal Research and Training नावाची एक संस्था पुण्यात आहे, तेथे मी पूर्वी एकदा गेलो होतो.

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माझ्या आहुपेच्या वास्तव्याच्या दुसऱ्या दिवशी हा रानभाजी महोत्सवाचा कार्यक्रम होता. रानभाज्या म्हणजे सहसा शहरी भागात न आढळणाऱ्या भाज्या. जंगलात, शेतात, बांधांवरून आपोपाप उगवल्या जाणाऱ्या अश्या ह्या भाज्या. प्रामुख्याने पावसाळ्यात, काही महिने ह्या असतात. जसे कासच्या पठारावर पावसाळ्यातील काही दिवसच काही विशिष्ट फुले, रानफुले येतात, आणि काही दिवसातच ती नष्ट होतात, तसाच हा काहीसा प्रकार. अश्या ह्या रानभाज्यांची माहिती, अर्थात, जंगलात राहणाऱ्या,वनात शेती करणाऱ्या वनवासी, आदिवासी लोकांना माहिती असते. ती परंपरेने एका पिढीकडून दुसऱ्या पिढीकडे जात असते. नुसत्या त्या भाज्यांची माहिती नव्हे तर, त्या स्वयंपाकात, खाण्यात कशा वापराव्या याचे देखील पिढीजात ज्ञान त्यांच्याकडे असते. यातील बऱ्याच भाज्या औषधी गुणधर्म देखील असलेल्या असतात. या सर्वांचे एका तऱ्हेने दस्ताऐवजीकरण व्हावे, तसेच ह्याची माहिती इतरांना पोहोचावी, त्यातून आदिवासी लोकांना चार पैसे देखील मिळावे हा अश्या कार्यक्रमाचा उद्देश. आहुपे हा भाग देखील पर्यटनाच्या दृष्टीने विकसित व्हावा आणि यां निसर्ग पर्यटनाच्या माध्यमातून ह्या वनपुत्रांचा, त्याच्या भागाचा शाश्वत विकास व्हावा हा प्रमुख हेतू.

पुण्यातून वनवासी कल्याण आश्रमातर्फे पर्यटकांना आहुपेत ह्या कार्यक्रमासाठी, आश्रमाच्या अंजली घारपुरे आणि त्यांच्या सहकाऱ्यांनी आणले. वनवासी कल्याण आश्रमाची स्मरणिका सर्वाना देण्यात आली, ज्यात त्यांच्या उपक्रमाबद्दल, इतिहासाबद्दल माहिती दिली होतो. सकाळी १० वाजता आहुपेतील शासकीय आश्रम शाळेत सगळे जमले. नाश्ता आणि नाचणीचे गरम गरम असे आंबट गोड आंबील देऊन स्वागत करण्यात आले. तेवढ्यात पावसाने देखील जोरदार सरी वर सरी झाडून जणू काही स्वागतच केले. आहुपे गावातील वाड्या, वस्त्यामधून अनेक महिला(लहान मुलींपासून ते आजी/मावशीपर्यंत सर्व) नटून थटून हातात त्यांनी बनवलेली रानभाजी, भाकरी यांनी सजलेले ताट घेऊन कार्यक्रम स्थळी येत राहिल्या. हॉल मध्ये भिंतींवर २५-३० रानभाज्यांची माहिती देणारी विविध भित्तीपत्रके लावली गेली होती. आलेल्या महिला आपापल्या जागी बसून त्या चाखायला येणाऱ्यांना त्याची माहिती उत्साहाने देत होत्या. आम्ही सर्व पर्यटक, तसेच नेमून दिलेले परीक्षक, ह्या सर्व भाज्या चाखत, खात फिरत होतो. प्रत्येक ठिकाणचे भित्तीपत्रक वाचून माहिती करून घेत होतो. मला एका तऱ्हेने खूप वर्षांपूर्वी केलेली अमेरिकेतील Napa Valley मधील wine tasting ची ट्रीप आठवली.

रुखाळ, भोकर, तेरा, आबई,  काट माट, कर्दुला, कोंदर, कुर्डू, तोंडेची भाजी, चावा, टाकळा, कुसरा, करंज, भारंगी, चिंचूरडा, रताळ कोंब, गोमेटी, हळदा, महाळुंग, खुरासणी, कोंभाळा अश्या भाज्यांची माहिती देणारी पत्रके लावली होती. त्यातील बऱ्याच भाज्या महिलांनी आणल्या होत्या. कुर्डू खूप जणीनी आणली होती.  काही वेळाने मुख्य कार्यक्रमास सुरुवात झाली. विविध मान्यवरांची भाषणे झाली. अंजली घारपुरे यांनी कार्यक्रमाची कल्पना, स्थानिक लोकांचे सहकार्य याबद्दल बोलत, सहभागी महिलांचे कौतुक केले. डॉ. भोगावकर, ज्या वनस्पतीशास्त्रज्ञ आहेत, त्यादेखील एकूण परंपरा जपण्याचे आवाहन करत, कार्यक्रमाचे स्वागत केले. त्यांनी ह्या Wild Edibles of Vidarbha नावाचे  एक पुस्तकही लिहिले आहे. वनवासी कल्याण संस्थेतर्फे देखील रानभाज्यांच्या माहितीचे संकलन असणारे पुस्तकाचे लवकरच प्रकाशन करत आहे. परीक्षकांतर्फे स्पर्धेचे निकाल जाहीर करून, विजेत्यांचे कौतुक, बक्षीस वितरण, मनोगत हे सर्व झाले आणि हा सोहळा पार पडला.

तेवढ्यात जेवणाची सूचना झाली. मी विचारच करत होतो की ह्या आलेल्या सर्व पर्यटकांचे भोजनाची व्यवस्था कशी होणार. पण सूचना ऐकून चाट पडलो. कल्पना अशी होती की गावातील वनवासी बंधूंकडे त्यांनी प्रत्येक ४-५ लोकांच्या समुहाची जेवणाची व्यवस्था केली होती.  अश्या प्रकारे गावातील १२-१५ जणीना त्यामुळे काही पैसे मिळाले, आणि आम्हा पर्यटकांना त्यांच्या घरात शिरकाव करून त्यांचे जीवन जवळून पाहण्याची संधी मिळाली. बसके घर, उताराचे कौलारू छप्पर, अंधाऱ्या खिळ्या, अंगणात शेळ्या, गायी, कोंबड्या, सरपण. स्वयंपाक घरात चूल. सारवलेल्या घरात, चुलीसमोर बसून पोत्यावर बसून घरातील आजी, मावशी यांच्या सोबत गप्पा मारत गावरान भोजनाचा आस्वाद घेण्यास मिळाला. मला तर माझ्या आजोळची आठवण झाली. माझ्या सुदैवाने माझ्या बरोबर पुणे आकाशवाणीच्या प्रसिद्ध आणि वरिष्ठ निवेदिका अंजली लाळे ह्या होत्या आणि अनपेक्षितपणे त्यांच्या आकाशवाणी संदर्भात गप्पा मारता आल्या. त्यानंतर आम्ही मग गावकऱ्यांकडून स्थानिक वाणाचे  तांदूळ विकत घेतले. सर्वांचा निरोप घेऊन, भाज्यांच्या चावीच्या आस्वादाच्या आठवणी काढत आम्ही परतीचा प्रवास सुरु केला.

एकूणच हा असा अनपेक्षित, आणि वेगळा अनुभव देणारी सहल ठरली. आदिवासी संस्कृती, जीचे विविध आयाम आहेत, त्यातील ही खाद्य-संस्कृती, ती पण जपली गेली पाहिजे. अंजली घारपुरे यांच्या पुढाकाराने नक्कीच हे होईल. प्राची दुबळे यांनी जसे आदिवासी संगीत जपण्यासाठी त्याचा अभ्यास करून, त्याचे रेकॉर्डिंग आणि दस्ताऐवजीकरण केले आहे, किंवा गणेश देवी यांनी भाषा लोकसर्वेक्षण करून आदिवासी बोली भाषेची माहिती संकलित केली, मुकुंद गोखले यांनी गोंडी लिपी तयार केली, तसेच हे आहे. परवाच जागतिक आदिवासी दिन साजरा झाला, त्या दृष्टीने ही सहल औचित्यपूर्णच ठरली असे म्हणावे लागेल.

Way Down South

Once an insignificant fringe village of Baner towards north west of Pune has become a upscale and upmarket since last 10-12 years. The main road which starts from Pune University intersection stretches all the way up to Pune Bengaluru bypass road. This road is dotted with IT/ITeS/Software companies-startups and established alike. And because of that it has earned the reputation of being silicon alley of Pune. This also has helped the area to become a hotbed for foodies due to variety of restaurants which have sprung up on either side of landmark and milestone Hotel Mahabaleshwar on the main road.

Way Down South is one such, on the far end. As the name suggests it is south Indian restaurant. And there is no dearth of them in the city. Why am I talking of another south Indian restaurant on this blog? The reason is that is not the usual Udupi restaurant. I have been there 3 times now to this place. This time around I thought of finally putting some words for them here.

It is a compact and crammed place. The menu is on the card as well as on one of the walls as well which is hand-written. The difference between this joint and other Udupi style restaurants is that it more of specialty south Indian restaurant with main focus on coastal Karnataka food. Coastal Karnataka is also called as Karavali which consists of Uttara Kannada(North Canara) and Dakshin Kannada(South Canara) districts. I remember traveling through these districts during my coastal Karnataka trip long time back. The Gauda Saraswata Bramhin(GSB) people are common here. This coastal area is also referred as Konkan due to its Kannada/Tulu influenced Konkani language.

I don’t exactly remember what I had there during my maiden visit. I had bread dosa the second time, I remember. It is literally made of the usual bread to my surprise as the way we make it at home does not have bread in it. We use rava instead, is made usually when we have butter milk made at home. The rava is mixed and let ferment overnight before making them. But I like the one at Way Down South.

The third visit was this weekend. I had a long pending bucket list for the visit to this area. A visit to Someshwar Temple in Someshwar Wadi area, a visit to ancient cave temple called Baneshwar, a visit to famous misal pav joint Khasbag Misal, and Way Down South. This all along with a mandatory visit to D-Mart for provisioning for living! It was a too ambitious plan for me and my wife. Out of these I had desperately wanted to visit Baneshwar cave temple and Khasbaug Misal in Baner, but I could do the rest but these two. The cave temple of Baneshwar is little unknown cave temple in this area, I had missed multiple opportunities to visit it during field trips conducted during my Indology course. I wanted to visit the Someshwar temple because, Mula river runs from its back side. And it was in better shape when I had visited few years ago. I wanted to check the status now, and to my disappointment, it had deteriorated further. It almost resembled to a waste water drainage with hyacinth on it.

Anyways, coming back to the restaurant. This time we had Appam, Dharwad Doddak and Surnoli, and all ended with a filter coffee. The menu is dominated by Karavali food. You will find usual suspects of idli, wada, dosa. But their specialty seems GSB food. You will find all types of unusual dosas which are common in Karavali area such as Chitrapur Pollo, Kundapur Pollo, Gava Pitti Pollo, Doddak and Chitlampudi dosa(which is Andhra Pradesh item). As you can see most of these are named after towns in these two districts. The stuff we ate this time, Appam is a Kerala dish and we make it at home. We wanted to have it for quite some time along with Aviyal(the famous Kerala curry). But to our disappointment, Appam was rather sour. The Surnoli was good. This light yellow colored fluffy dosa is rather on sweet side. The Doddak is another GSB specialty, which are dosas made with usual ingredients but with added grated cucumbers. The Doddak which we went for was called Dharwad Doddak. It was not on the main menu. It was on the wall and we went for it. It was made more in the style of hand flattened Thalipith as one gets in Maharashtra, but the ingredients were completely different and were of Doddak. Unfortunately, I could not take photos, but I suppose you should be able to get them on Zomato.

Every time I go to this place, it reminds me of my trip to, as said earlier, to coastal Karnataka, where that Konkani language still fresh in my ear, and also many delicacies we had during our trip that time, including some the dosas this restaurant has. As I write this blog, on Way Down South, it is important to mention that this is not the only specialty south Indian restaurant in the city. There are couple more which I had tried in the past-Dakshinayan in Deccan Gymkhana area, Soul Curry near Wakad, South Indies on Aundh road. All of the serve variety of Andhra, Tamil, Kerala, Karnataka specialties with varying degrees of emphasis on one or more. Out of which I remember Dakshinayan distinctly as the staff was all dressed in black colored shirt and lungi(similar to one which is worn during Ayappa temple pilgrimage in Kerala). More about them later. Till then enjoy!

Bengaluru Eateries

I have not done lot of food blogging on this space, barring couple of exceptions. But today I want to take a shot at that, specifically talking of Bengaluru’s eateries. Whenever I am Bengaluru, for that matter any city, I also get on to trying out that city’s food culture. This is one on Bengaluru’s food culture experiences I have had for your eyes.

The moment you land in Bengaluru, you notice two things. One is Hatti Kaapi(ಹಟ್ಟಿ ಕಾಪಿ) shop at the airport, where they serve nice, hot filter coffee in earthen pots. The other thing you notice, as you start driving around the city, at almost every block, the eateries, which are locally termed as Darshini(ದರ್ಶಿನಿ). The wiki has nice history about how it started and how these small eating joints spread all over got name Darshini suffixed to them.They usually would serve popular south Indian snack items, tea, coffee etc at quick eat and go style. These places are hugely popular with employees who want to have a quick bite on the way to work place.

Halli Thindi(ಹಳ್ಳಿ ತಿಂಡಿ) is another specialty restaurant, serving by-gone era foods, and also items from all over Karnataka. That includes foods from coastal Karantaka(karavali, ಕರಾವಳಿ), foods from norther Karnataka such as Hubli, Dharwad, Bijapur(now Vijaypura), food items from other interior areas of Karnataka. These are mostly, snack items. The Kannada name Halli Thindi, in English, literally means snacks from villages. I had gone to their branch in Hanumantha Nagar, when I had gone for a Kannada play at K K Kala Soudha.

Every city has some classic eating places, for example Pune has Marz-O-Rin in Pune Camp area or 81-year old Poona Guest House on Laxmi Road. The MTR restaurant is one of the oldest restaurants in Bengaluru, founded in 1924. The current name is short for original name Mavalli Tiffin Room. For some reason, in Bengaluru, they call breakfast as tiffin.  I have been to MTR restaurant where originally started as well as at a place in J P Nagar which is called MTR Grand Continental.

Benguluru’s Vidyarthi Bhavan, which is another oldest(started in 1943) eating places. As name suggests, it was very popular among the students. It is located in crowded Gandhi Bazar area of Bengaluru. Last year, I happened to experience that legacy, by planning hard, to visit the place well in advance. The place still carries that rustic look and feel. The specialty is, of course, thick dosa. Must visit place.

Maiyas is another classic and fine restaurant. It is located in Jay Nagar area and is having modern look both exterior and interior. Maiyas is also famous for its rava idli. They also have one at the airport.

Vasudev Adiga’s also very famous eating place in Bengaluru, though it is not very old like ones described above. I typically would go every time I visit Bengaluru. The main reason is it is very near to place where I am usually put up with my relatives, of course, I like the food there. I usually relish strong filter coffee almost every morning my stay there.

Adyar Anands Bhavan is another chain of restaurants one can spot across Bengaluru. This is originally from Chennai, started 30 years ago as sweet shop, and then into regular restaurant. I have been to one near Bengaluru airport, but only once. I found their south Indian breakfast thali enticing.

The other place is not exactly in Bengaluru, but outside towards Bidadi near Ramnagara, that is famous for tatte idli and also for masala vada, both of them are extra large in size, and that is exactly their specialty.

My earliest memories of eating out in Bengaluru goes way back more than 2 decades during my maiden visit. I distinctly remember eating frequently at Hotel Chandrika and also Hotel Sukhsagar(which is a chain of hotels). I was introduced to famous Chow Chow Bhat, which is uniqueness of Bengaluru, at Hotel Chandrika, which is located on Cunningham Road in Shivajinagar area. Now Bengaluru has turned out to be a huge metro city, where you will find all kinds of restaurants. For example, I recently learnt that there is a barbecue joint called Absolute Barbecue, which is booked 3 months in advance. My intention on this blog was to cover some of the classic Bengaluru food joints, hope you have enjoyed it. I would love to hear from you, about your experiences.

Food Archaeology

As part of my Indology course a decade back, I studied Archaeology as one of the subjects. I also attended couple of field trips to excavation sites, and did participate in the process to certain extent. It is very exciting process where in historical/prehistorical artifacts unfold in front of your eyes. I keep visiting Deccan College in Pune where one of friends teaches archaeological subjects and also researcher himself. It helps me get to know more about his latest finds and latest projects.

In the newspapers, the other day I read about Dr Kurush Dalal’s presentation in Pune on archaeology of food. I had never heard of this term. The closest I had gone was to historical studies of food, especially Indian food, as described in book by K T Achaya(Indian Food: A Historical Companion). During my course, we had discussed findings of barley seeds in Harappan civilization and few other food related items, in fossilized form and trying to understand them by performing various kinds of analysis including chemical analysis. Though, I could not attend the the presentation, it was covered in Indian Express(could not grab the link to the report). Here are some excerpts from the clipping:

“It’s recreating the foods that made us who we are today. So we first need to know how do archaeologists reconstruct the food of the past?….For last 5,500 years we have been eating ‘ber'(Indian jujube) as a snack. This is Indian superfood because of richness in iron, calcium and minerals….Event the predominant grains we eat today are different. Millet which was major staple food until recently are losing to wheat and rice. ”

So, it seems that the talk was about mainly on history, evolution of food habits, and also more importantly preservation or revival of bygone food habits. This revival(and as he said archaeological reconstruction which is important) is based on interdisciplinary studies such as for example including anthropological data. The other related subject is paleobotany which, of course, covers plants and vegetation aspects. He also covered, as per the report again, some well known facts such as we borrowed potatoes, mangoes from Portuguese. Tomatoes are also not native to India. It is also well known that India was exporter of spices since thousands of years.

For all of us with gastronomical affection, I guess in this world of globalization and global village, it does not matter now as to where did certain food item originate or what is native of any specific region. But it is certainly entertaining to know more about evolution of our own food habits historically and native food items which is part of our heritage.

Since we are talking of food heritage and culture, let me conclude by providing another reference for those curious minds. There is a Sanskrit work called ‘Abhilashitartha Chintamani’ alias ‘Manasollasa’ which is 12th century encyclopedic work by King Someswara III in today’s Karnataka region. It contains two chapters on food and water. This throws light on the food culture in 12th century. One more Sanskrit work titled ‘Bhojankutuhalam’ attributed to Tanjore Bhosale king of 11th century(the period is debatable) also talks of food preparations for over 400 food items.

चहा अनुष्ठान or Preparing Tea

Like many, I get up early morning and one of the first things I do is to engage myself into
making morning tea(I know some of you might be preferring coffee, but that is not the point). Making tea in the morning is act of experimenting various flavors. Apart from main ingredients of typical/traditional tea ie. tea powder, sugar, milk; I use lemon grass, natural alternatives for sugar such as stevia leaves, ginger, cinnamon powder, hint of salt, basil leaves, tea masala and any combination of these, depending on the mood, availability and patience. I know it is still not exactly like a tea ceremony in Japan ! I am also not trying to replicate what George Orwell(Making Cup of Tea) or Douglas Adams(Tea) have already done in their essays.

But today I wanted to share a comic and satirical Sanskrit verse which I had read sometime back. The verse describes act of tea making in modern Indian homes. This is in the context of changing society norms, in typical Indian families in flats/apartments in cities, due to industrialization and nuclear families sometime in 1980.

It is written by Dr Yashwant Pathak, a well known Marathi author and expert on saints of Maharashtra and their literature. The verse goes like this.

चहा अनुष्ठान

(हे अनुष्ठान सुरु करण्यापूर्वी डोळ्याला पाणी लावायचे आणि तेच हात नाईट लेंग्याला किंवा गाऊनला पुसायचे. रक्षापत्रात बर्कलेची उदबत्ती लावायची. ढणढण रेडियो लावायचा)

अथ: प्रात: उत्थाय शय्यां त्यक्त्वा, शौचमुखमार्जनंविना ग्यास:समीप गत्वा, तत्र उत्तिष्ठ, लाईटरंहस्ते अग्नी प्रज्वाल्य, जलपात्रं अग्नौ निघाय, आउष्णोदकात् तत्र अवस्थाप्य, शर्करां मिश्रित्य, चहाचूर्ण प्रक्षिप्य, पंचनिमिषपर्यन्तं तास्त्रैव संस्थाप्य, भूमौ अवतीर्य, कंचित् कालं विरम्य, दुग्धं मिश्रित्य, यो घटघाटां पिबति स: स्वर्गलोकं गच्छति, वीर्यवान भवति, मेधावान भवति, ओजस्वी भवति, तेजस्वी भवति, श्रद्धां लभते |

चहापानानंतरम् धुम्रपानं करोति, तस्य पुनर्जन्म न विद्यते|

स: विष्णूलोकं गच्छति, पितृन् उद्धरति|

एतत चहाअनुष्ठानं त्रिकालं करोति स: सर्वपापात् प्रमुच्यते, तस्य मेदेच्छेदो भवति, स कृशोदरो भवति, स पुत्रपौत्रान् न पश्यति, मंदनेत्रो भवति, श्वासकासत्रासमुक्तो भवति|

अस्य चहामंत्रस्य, हेमिल्टन ऋषि:, लिप्टनी देवता, कपबशी छंद:, ब्रुकबॉन्डी संज्ञा:
ओम् ऱ्हीमं श्रीं क्लिं हू: हू: भुं भुं फुर्र फुर्र फुर्र ओम् फट स्वहा: ||

इति श्री गृहपुराणान्तर्गतम् द्रव्यनाश प्रकरणे
देहनाशाध्याये चहाअनुष्ठानम् संपुर्णम्|

I had thoroughly enjoyed it. Hope you also like it.

PS: If you don’t know Sanskrit, I am sorry, cannot help much. This is very difficult to translate due to its comic nature and references to cultural elements.