Sunday, November 18, 2012

Another Southern Sojourn!

Visiting Bangalore is always exciting for a few simple reasons - great weather, greenery, great food and a great crowd! I don't mind the traffic though, after being so used to it, here in Mumbai!
Couple of weeks back, a colleague and I visited Bangalore and Maddur for a day. After landing in Bangalore, we were to cross the city to get to the Mysore Highway. On the way, our vehicle, a Tavera, had two accidents, one of which was near fatal for a biker. We had it, we just couldn't move forward in the same car.
After an hour or two we got a replacement cab, an Indica. The journey then was pretty uneventful, though we were quite late.
We stopped by Kamat's Lokaruchi for some great local food. We had North Karnataka thalis. I have been a big, big fan of this place for the last 2 years. Alongwith the thali, we were served something called Oora Mirapakayalu or "curd chillies" - red chillies soaked in buttermilk, sundried and panfried, which was absolutely awesome - a different kind of spicy flavour. My colleague and I were absolutely sold out on the "curd chillies".
The rest of trip was quite okay. The weather at Maddur was again great. The place was idyllic. While my heart wanted to stay back, we had to leave!
We touched Bangalore at about 7PM. As we were passing by Jayanagar, my colleague asked the driver to take us to a place where we could get curd chillies. We were taken to a neighbourhood store where we picked up a couple of packs of curd chillies. Alongwith that, I found something very interesting - sundaka vatral, an interesting ingredient for vatral kozhambu, a delectable Tamil preparation that I had enjoyed in Trichy earlier this year in February! I was as elated and excited like a kid in a toy shop.

We proceeded to Residency Road, where we were to stay for the night. After checking-in at the hotel, I was reminded of Nagarjuna Residency close by which serves an excellent Andhra thali! As Navratras were on, I chose a vegetarian thali alongwith. A cauliflower pepper fry. The thali had assortment of greens, sambhar, rasam, daal and a variety of chutneys and pickles. Gongura chutney that I had first had at Rajahmundry was there, so was fresh mango pickle! Both of these were awesome! 
And one interesting bit - though I usually avoid rice, authentic South Indian food makes me want to eat rice!!!!

The food was amazingly spicy, as Andhra food is always supposed to be! My eyes, scalp and skin were watering profusely, due to the "heat"! My only regret - I could not have spicy mutton gravy or chilly chicken, though I was tempted to give the Navratras a pass!
We then took a long walk along Residency Road and MG Road, passing by the newly constructed the Namma Metro line. I stopped by at an open-air Coffee Café Day. Having a hot cup of Assam tea in the cool breeze was a different experience. I would have loved to sit at the café a little more, but we had to leave - we had a flight to catch at 8AM, for which we had to check out at 5.45AM.
I reached Mumbai pleased with myself for getting back a treasure of curd chillies and vatral!
This morning, out came the sundaka vatral and the curd chillies. We made idlis (a premix from MTR), vatral kozhambu using the sundaka and fried curd chilly! What an amazing breakfast that was!

I find it really interesting - despite being a hardcore North Indian, after experiencing authentic South Indian cuisine, in the south, I have fallen for South Indian food in a big big way. For me stuff like vatral kozhambu was a true revelation, an interesting surprise! And having it at home, having family experience it was extremely pleasing!
Perhaps, as they say, travel does in many ways does broaden your horizons!

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