Kaapi Tales..

Circa 2005: In lush green 🌲🌳environs of Malleshwaram, one of the oldest & liveliest neighborhood of Bengaluru,I was wandering around 18th Cross Sampige Road (or Champaca flower, the street name derived from sampige trees which lined up the street, their lush canopy, providing fragrant, shady & much needed respite from the heat) for counseling to select a seat for my undergrad. It was Day 1 and the seat selection started bit late after all the proceedings and keynote speech to mark the start of new academic year. Accompanied with my dad, we had a quick breakfast where we were staying at our relative’s place in Laggere & headed to counseling in Malleshwaram. It was well past 3 PM when we were done with our seat selection, satisfied with the day’s events. It was time for an elaborate lunch or rather a brunch. An eatery nearby caught our attention which was thronged by people at the roadside. The taste of Rava Masala Dosa which I ordered from that Darshini, still lingers on my mind and over the years have loved the preparation and taste of this Delicious Dosa. Does any dish evoke such emotions in you? Do share if any 😛 if you had any such gastronomical delights.🍽🥣 Isn’t it strange that, a memorable taste from a delicacy had sometime in the past, evokes so many wonderful memories? Food for thought, isn’t it?

Pudi Dosa & Coconut Chutney

So what are Darshinis, which Bengaluru is known for? and How did it come into being? Let’s delve into some history and interesting nuggets about Darshini (that which is visible). It is attributed to a gentleman Mr. Prabhakar who is known as ideas💡man. Many of the hoteliers owe a great deal to him which changed the face of Bengaluru food scene big time. Under Prabhakar’s direction, Bengaluru got its first Cafe Darshini in Jayanagar in 1983 and now there are darshinis at every roadside and very much part of day-to-day life. It has modern kitchen machinery like wet grinders visible to customers from outside. One has to buy a token from the counter(pay-first-eat-later) and hand it over to kitchen staff. There are limited items in the menu- idli, vada, dosa varieties like masala dosa, set dosa, khaali dosa, rava dosa, kharabath(upma), bisibele bath(hot lentils rice dish originated from Karnataka), kesaribath(a sweet preparation from ghee and semolina or rice), chow chow bath(a scoop of kharabath & kesaribath) accompanied with tea and coffee. There is no furniture other than few, elbow-high pole with small round tabletop, used to eat standing. The only staff is a cleaning boy, who wipes tabletop as soon as customers leave. In a way, darshinis are a great leveler, that brings in people from all walks of life to enjoy a tasty and healthy breakfast without any special treatment in terms of service.

Inspiration: It so happened Mr. Prabhakar tagged along with his friend to Singapore for a business assignment. There he understood the market of fast food and was exposed to ideas like takeaways, minimalist but wholesome meals, payment at the counter and thus eliminating the need of waiters. He got so much inspired from the idea that he Indianized it to address and promote South Indian fare. It derives from Brahmin Satvik Tradition from South Canara region of Karnataka especially Kundapura-Udupi region. Udupi hotel in many parts of India is synonymous to South Indian hotel thanks to enterprising individuals from that region who specialized in showcasing culinary delight of South India whether it’s idli, dosa, coconut chutney and of course the coffee. Some of prominent Darshini/coffee chains have stood with test of time and earned the love of patrons over the years. Brahmins Coffee bar, By Two Coffee in Basavanagudi, Mavalli Tiffin Room popularly known as MTR opposite LalBagh, Taza Thindi in Jayanagar, Veena Stores & CTR in Malleshwaram to name a few. 🍛😋

Masala Dosa from Mavalli Tiffin Rooms- MTR, Lalbagh Road

Back story: Madhwacharya, a 13th Century saint from Udupi(temple town in coastal Karnataka), who founded the Dvaita school of philosophy established 8 Brahmin mutts and laid emphasis on developing a school of cooking strictly adhering to sattvik tradition. Many Brahmins from this region took to cooking as a profession and later distinguished themselves in running hotels & restaurants. Some of them dominated the business like Adigas, Maiyas, Bhats, Raos etc and set up shops in many cities.

Set Dosa

Pakashastra, the science of cooking had an elaborate structure to set up food. Its said that around 48 unique items should be cooked everyday as Lord Krishna’s neivedyam. The main segments of this rather elaborate spread consisted of five sweets, five payasams, five rassa (sambar, rasam), five fried items, five unboiled items(like salads), five anna(rice items),five vyanjana(pickles, papads) & five jeernakara(herbal chutneys-digestives). These were not to be repeated each day leading to innovation & food improvisation. Since all the preparations was meant to please the Lord, it made use of best of ingredients, cooking practices & highest level of hygiene.

Bisi Bele Bath(Hot lentils rice bath) from Veena Stores, Malleshwaram

The Legendary Mavalli Tiffin Rooms(MTR) is operating since 1920s. Very well known for its one-of-a-kind Masala Dose & Filter Kaapi, it’s said once Chief Minister of Karnataka stood in queue to savor it’s Masala Dosa. During second World War, when rice was in short supply, they experimented with semolina instead of rice to invent Rava Idli. During Emergency, the restaurant had to be closed leading it to reinvent and move into instant food business, a turning point.

Bubbling with energy, Filter Kaapi from MTR

In those days, Udupi in South Canara was part of Madras Presidency, Woodlands and Dasaprakash was established in Madras which became iconic symbols of fine South Indian cuisine. Basavanagudi in Bengaluru was later the focus of attention to Udupi’s entrepreneurs which led to establishment of Vidhyarthi Bhavan, Brahmins Coffee bar & later outlets like By 2 Coffee based on economy of scale-modest per customer income, minimal items, highest quality, consistent taste and hence largest footfall. Veena Stores & Central Tiffin Room(CTR) was setup in Malleshwaram.

Butter Masala Dosa

In 1990s, Mr. Prabhakar came up with an idea of Bharjari oota in Gandhinagar, a Mysore styled spread of unlimited rice,curries,rasam,chutney,buttermilk along with an MTR softee icecream(to promote new Softee brand 🍦) all for an incredibly low price of ₹10 which led to traffic snarls. Later he came up with an idea to sell food by weight owing to large demands by office going people which needed high quality food for their staff. Even today, such outlets exists and ever since has been a savior for many bachelors and students.

One of the SLV Darshini
Vidyarthi Bhavan, Gandhi Bazaar, Basavanagudi

India’s tryst with Coffee is said to have in early 17th century when Baba Budan, a saint, is said to have smuggled seven coffee beans from present-day Yemen while returning from Hajj in Mecca. He hid the coffee beans in his beard and planted them in the Chandragiri Hills of the Chikkamagaluru district, where they soon flourished. Britishers commercialized its production by establishing large coffee plantations in Coorg, Wayanad and other regions. In Southern Indian household, coffee soon became a necessity in around 19th century where they started brewing coffee with milk, mixed with jaggery/honey for sweetness. With the advent of coffee houses like Indian Coffee House, coffee spread to northern parts of India too.☕

Bonda Soup

In 1990s, Cafe Coffee Day(CCD) was one of popular hangout coffee shops which popularized coffee all over India. Its success is attributed to V.G. Siddhartha who inherited acres of coffee farms in Chikkamagaluru(Land of Coffee in India). He linked coffee and technology and started CCD, a coffee chain, first established in Brigade Road, Bengaluru in 1996. It was meant for customers to sit and surf the internet while enjoying their coffee; hence the name Cafe Coffee Day.The brainchild to provide customers with free internet, a novelty in the country then, is among the innovations that set CCD on its path to emerge the top player of coffee chains all over India. With teenagers as a primary customer, it came up with a tag line “A lot can happen over a cup of coffee” which became a go to place to hangout.🥤☕🍵🥪🍪🍩

Filter Kaapi

That brings us to an end of this foodgasmic tale.Hope you liked this distilled version, a concoction served hot & fresh 😛

Until next time, Be Good, Eat Good, Feel Good. Bon Appétit!!

References: Askew by T.J.S George

Hungry Kya??

Warning: This write up with lot of deliciousness might make you hungry as it is a serious drooling affair. Baad mein complain mat karna- Peth mein chuve daud rahe hain 😛

For Foodies, From a Foodie 🙂

All the food mentioned here are essentially Konkani cuisine especially from North Kanara (in Karnataka) with influences from Goan, Malwani and Maharashtrian cuisine. So without any further ado, let’s get the ball rolling….

Lets start our food journey with some breakfast menus.First up is a authentic rice roti called as Mumbri or Cholka (leaf) Baakri (roti) prepared using banana leaf. The ingredients include rice flour,salt,coconut,ghee and onion is optional.This roti goes well with a chutney made from grated coconut and mixed with red chili powder,some sugar and salt. Its like marriage made in heaven. 🙂

Then we move on to Khotto (also called as Hittu), a big hit among all Konkanis which is basically idlis in jack fruit leaves. For khotto, a green chilly chutney prepared with coconut oil, salt, asafoetida (hing) water, crushed ginger and fresh grated coconut is a perfect combination.

Masala mandakki(churmuri), puffed rice, is your best bet for a quick snack which is made using chopped onions, chill powder,tomatoes,oil, green chilies, coriander, salt and lemon juice.

Next on the menu is Appe which is also called as Paddu(in Kannada) which is made from urad dal and rice. There is also a sweet version of appe which can be made from sugarcane juice. Cooked Green peas(vatana) with grated coconut, tempered with mustard, also makes a great snack. Next up, we have, ever so popular Kandhe Pohe, an authentic Maharashtrian offering which can be enjoyed with shev/bhujiya. There is also a Marathi film song to its credit called as Kandhe Pohe.

Moving on, we gorge onto one of my favorite rice rotis (alayle pitta bhakri-flour is prepared using hot water) which are soft and can be taken with variety of sides like Massori bhaaji(as shown in the pic), baigan(brinjal) bartha/yengai/nonche, mushroom curry etc. We also have the sabka the favorite the poori the bhaaji 😛 and vermicelli which is also called as Sewai.

Now its time for some fried stuff. Everyone loves fries whether its of potato,mushroom, cabbage, cauliflower or capsicum.In Konkani, the rawa fries are called as Phodi and deep fried ones as Bajje.

Next we move on to various side dishes which we can create from different veggies.First up is Potato(batate) talasan which is prepared by thin long pieces of potato, salt, bit of turmeric,chilli powder and some water. Then,we have,bitter gourd(karela) kosambari which is small chunks of karela fried with oil and salt upon which small chunks of raw onion are added. Next up is Chana (chickpeas) ushli where chana is cooked with fried onions, water,salt, chilli powder and off course chana masala. Alternatively, chana can also be cooked with coconut masala making a dish called as chana ghashi.

Next item in the line is Cauliflower Nonche which is basically cauliflower cut into small pieces and loosely fried with salt, chilli powder,bit of turmeric and then tempered with mustard. The rawness of cauliflower enhances its taste. Then its tendle(ivy gourd) talasan which is basically frying tendle on low flame after tempering with curry leaves and mustard.

Next up is Teppal (similar to Sichuan pepper) hugge with mixture of potato, bendi and karela as veggies. Teppal (or Tirphal) is a unique spice which is found mostly in Konkani cuisine. It has strong woody aroma and mainly used in fish curries and some veggies (strictly used only for aroma and is discarded later, if it is bitten it gives a tingling sensation :P), hence cannot be ground while preparing curry masala.

Then we move on to a special Maharashtrian delicacies Zunka prepared using besan (bengal gram) and spring onions and Bharli Vangi which is stuffed brinjal. After which we have bendi talasan which is basically fried bendi with chilli powder and salt. Lastly, we have the carrot kosambari which is prepared by grating carrots.

Here are some of the vegan delicacies in Amchigele (Konkani style) from some of my foodie friends courtesy Shamala Bhat(Bengaluru) and Aditi Kini(Karkala).

Process of making Pathrado-Steamed Colocasia leaves with masala

Moving on, its time for a special Mango dish which is seasonal and has been regarded as a Konkani special delicacy-Ambe Humane or Upkari. A special variety of mango locally called as Ghonto– small rounded mangoes with a big seed and very tasty flesh which is difficult to cut into pieces,is used for this dish. Also, we have the mouthwatering(is an understatement) mango pickle prepared by my mom,a Master chef.

We then have black eyed beans-alesande curry which is tasty to say the least.We Konkanis love mushrooms(alambe) which is seasonal and which we get during onset of monsoons. Its like a occasion when during those days, we never fail to ask our family/friends whether they had mushrooms this season during our casual conversation. The button mushrooms which we get throughout the year doesn’t come an inch closer to these natural mushrooms in terms of taste and quality.

Ok enough of love for mushrooms, now, time has come to unleash the humble daal which we all Konkanis are very proud of called as DaaliThoy. When taken with hot rice it is pure bliss.It is simplest of all dishes, everyone’s favorite and the first thing one always learns to cook. This dish is kind of compulsory in every Konkani function. The ingredients include tur daal, bit of turmeric,salt,ginger,coriander,tomatoes,green chilies, garlic,oil(or ghee for enhanced taste),asafoetida (hing),curry leaves,red chilies,mustard. A thick version of Daalithoy is funnily called as DDT(Dhaat(Thick) Daali Thoy) and the one who passionately enjoys it till last trace of it on a plate is called as Daalithoy Burkithalo.

Enough is enough. Enough of veggies. Sounds fishy?  Yes, its high time we introduce FISH and other non vegeterian delicacies. So, bring it ON. Amongst Konkani Brahmins, the Saraswat Brahmins(SB) refrain from non vegetarian food but most of the GSB like me enjoy the meat especially fish(Most of GSBs are pesco vegetarians-fish eaters) as we come from west coast of India. And sea food diet is like see and eat diet. 😛

After one such satisfying fish meal, one of my friends, asked me looking surprised – Harsha, I thought you are a Brahmin? And I proudly told him, that, indeed I am a Brahmin. Legend has it that we were the earliest settlers near the mystical Saraswati river.During a famine,the community leaders advised us to eat fish as that was the only food available for survival.

So here we are, with whole range of sea food which we love from some of the restaurants which essentially serve Konkani cuisine.


Having seen all that and gorge on to these delicious dishes, if you ask anyone, they will say, mom’s fish curry or any dish for that matter doesn’t match to that made in restaurants. I guess Mummy and Tummy rhymes for a reason or for that matter, Mum and Yum. So without any further delay, here’s unveiling-Mom’s fish recipes. If Dubai boasts of Palm island, here is a fish version of Palm island, then we have the Surmai, the Anjal, the Iswaan, the sabse bada, the sabse tasty, the king of all fishes-King fish fry.Next up, we have one of a kind prawns side dish called as kholu, a signature dish which is delicious and lip-smacking. Then, its the turn of a Konkani special- Bangde (Mackerel) Hugge (Dhoddak). The unique thing about this dish is it’s preparation. On a spread of banana leaves, the fish masala with teppal spice as a important ingredient is poured in,along with fish pieces carefully cleaned.Another layer of banana leaves is used to cover the mixture. Then a plate is placed on top of it on which hot charcoal pieces are kept.When kept on a low flame, it gets cooked on both sides to perfection. The aroma factor is catered to through the banana leaves and smokiness is provided by charcoal heating which makes the dish very much unique and mouthwatering. Following up, we have my favorite Nagli Nonche(Lady fish curry)-a heavenly mixture of lady fish, coconut paste with masala and spices.

Prawns Kholu, a signature dish
Bangde Hugge
Nagli Nonche

Now its time to have some curd rice and slurp some Kokum Kadi/juice and Butter Milk for a soothing effect. Sol khadi is made from coconut milk and kokum and is good for digestion.

How about some specially home made sweets?

One of the important sweet we prepare during festivals is Patholi. These are nothing but sweet rice dumplings steamed using turmeric leaves. Have a look at the process of preparing the same.And finally let’s gorge on to a ice cream by a fellow Konkani.

Perfait from Pabbas(Ideal) Mangaluru

Hope you enjoyed the food journey as much as I did putting up this post for you. Wishing you more of gastronomic delights.

Until next time we meet, be good, do good and keep smiling 🙂

P.S: Unless otherwise specified, all the dishes are prepared by my mom or wife.For whole lot of recipes of authentic Konkani cuisine and other cuisines as well, check out this blog site by clicking here. You will love it 🙂