Part 4: College adda’s and pocket-friendly joints

Part 4: College adda’s and pocket-friendly joints

Follow my blog with BloglovinThe heydeys of Engineering, back in 2003, when the jeans were bell-bottomed when girls carried backpacks and not handbags when Yamaha’s Rx’s lined the parking stalls when college canteen served food not more than Rs.15 each. College was an amazing 4 years of life lessons and fun! more so it was good to be in mechanical engineering – the chilled out department.

By virtue of being in Mech, it was quite often that one would see more of its students not in the classroom but outside. This invariably meant a lot of time spent in the canteen or in other college adda’s (hangouts). To list out the adda’s and other eat-outs – The Canteen – epicentre of the college life, the Bakery (sagar bakery), food court of the medical college ( fancier than the engg canteen), the rolls and darshini’s, the chaat place by the bus stand and much more.

The college canteen – I have lived off canteen food for most of college days, even when I had my own lunch box, the home-food depraved hostel boys would gobble it up and buy me food in the canteen. The main criteria for a canteen – cheap food, was met. The coffee was Rs. 5, the apple cake (the leftover’s cake) was Rs. 5 and the bisibele bath was Rs.10 or 15 (don’t remember) and the one tasty dish of our canteen was the masala dosa (tasty by acceptable standards alone). If it were internals/exams or record-writing for the afternoon lab. The canteen was our sanctuary!

Then we do step out for much more tastier options- The sagar bakery. Double egg full fry download (8)cost only Rs7  and Maggi was Rs.15, half tea/coffee was Rs.3. So a simple after college snack cost not more than Rs. 10! 😀 Maggi was not so frequent at first. But by the end of college,  “cheta oru maggi and full fry” were yelled out every day. The sagar bakery was its BMS (banana milkshake), bun omelette, egg and veg puffs and they did have many other edible food then went in-between the bun, but I just don’t seem to recall.

The medical college food court – Now this was a little far, walkable place, which had more choices and had a restaurant like a feel. Also like any other canteen, you can sit there the whole day and no one would throw you out. For non-veg options within walking distance and it had to be this place. I have had some yummy chicken noodles and Manchurian there. I loved that they gave a poached egg for one particular noodle dish. I was a regular there, it was a good place to read.

Info: the Ramaiah educational institutions spanned across a vast area, having a single road about 900 m, with gates at both ends. At one end – the new bel road was the hospital and the medical college and at the other end was the engineering gate. And it is said that within that stretch there were 13 canteens. I have not explored all just 3 I think.

The rolls place Kusum started in our 2nd or 3rd year and it was awesome. A single egg chicken roll would cost only Rs. 30 (now its Rs 50 or 70). That made an awesome lunch. If we felt a little pricey we would eat in for their chow miens.

The Andhra mess served some hot meals with pappu and rice at Rs.20(25). There were a couple of darshinis also doling out their version of chaats. A quick bite before boarding the bus.

for the time when we all felt way too pricey or end of exam treats we have gone to the chung-wah, or another Chinese place the new bel road. Now that road is lined with many fast-food joints and High-end grill houses and cafes.

There was a small burger joint, on the medical campus – Razzmatazz. He made some amazing home-style burgers with fries. I found out about this only at the end but frequented it even after college. There was a US pizza place which served unlimited pizza for just Rs.99. I think we treated ourselves after our last ethnic day there.

Also, I have enjoyed many days just walking through the IISc campus and the NAS campus to reach the Ramaiah Engineering Gate. IISc (before its security became a little tighter) has a normal canteen, but the ambience – just too good. The coffee board was just the right place to enjoy a coffee and a conversation. One should try to go through the IISc campus. You’d feel you have stepped into a time zone of sorts. The new bel road even now, with its canopy of trees beckons me sometimes. It’s a beautiful stretch to walk.

In the four years of Engg, I have tried to explore many a nook and cranny places for an easy bite. It was a good ride down nostalgia, yet again. Do share stories of your college adda’s.

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Part 3: Tales of food and cities

Part 3:  Tales of food and cities

Today’s post is about my travel to three European nations – The Netherlands, Germany and France. It was the year 2011.

We stayed for a week each in these countries, Monday to Friday were in the office and a little time in the evening for the local sights. Saturday was our one day of out of our small towns to the Big cities – Amsterdam and Paris. Sunday was our travel day.

The Netherlands

The Research Centre is in the City of Nieuwegein, Utrecht. We were put up at the Van Der Valk Hotel in Houten, our good fortune. The hotel suits were definitely a high-class experience. Due to another event in the city, the budget stay places were unavailable and

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The salmon dish looked similar to this

our luck would have it, We lived in a real posh place. And there I got to try a master chef style presentation of a Salmon Dish for roughly €20 ( the price was in the high range). Although the visual was quite appetising, the actual dish wasn’t. It was a bland meal. The fish was cooked great. I couldn’t really taste any flavour. While watching Masterchef and other international cooking shows I have wondered as what goes into enhancing the flavour of the dish. Coz salt and occasionally some ground pepper are all that they use as condiments. The salmon dish that day reaffirmed this. Maybe I was nescient enough to not appreciate a good fine dining experience. After an arduous day of travel, the reality of the meal was this – little portion, not filling, not tasty and no place else to go to search for a meal.

From the next day, we requested for a taxi service to the city’s main commercial area. We found an Indian place and we stuck to it for the next 5 days! Mornings as always, the breakfasts are amazing. Afternoon meals were from the cafeteria ( it actually served some tasty food, at least we had fries and pasta, if not anything else).

The Friday night of our week in Nieuwegein campus, our hosts took us on a tour of the city of Utrecht – the church, the eateries, and some other sights were all covered on a walk. It DSC_0104was walk-the-city tour. Even more interesting was that they took us to 3 different restaurants for the 3 courses of the meal. The first course – appetisers, were in a Mediterranean cuisine restaurant where we were served little bits of shrimps and goat cheese. Then after few sights, they took us to an Indian place called Gandhi for our main course. Finally for the drinks and desert, another place.

The next day, the Saturday we took a train to Amsterdam –  “everything” is legal in Amsterdam. I ended up ditching the company of my colleagues (they acted crazy and

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Anne Frank House

started pointing fingers at those funny (you get what am talking about) shops, but didn’t dare to go in). I sought out to see Amsterdam on my own took a boat cruise that gave DSC_0344a beautiful tour of the city. I met a bunch of women travelling from the UK to celebrate one their friend’s birthday/anniversary. I had a jolly good time. Then off I went to see the Anne Frank House. For lunch, I chose to eat from a Lebanese place and opted for shawarma kind of a wrap. Was hungry and wanted to play safe. Walked all over Amsterdam and took the train back to Nieuwegein and packed a decent tasting pasta in the train station.

Germany

So Sunday morning, we took a flight to Frankfurt and a taxi ride to Schweinfurt. Schweinfurt is a small town. Its main industries are the bearing industry.Historical Fact: During the World War II the factories manufacturing the Ball Bearings to Third Reich Army’s was bombed by the allies.

So the Sunday went in Check-in and for food, we ended eating at a fast food restaurant- chicken nuggets and burgers and Coffee-Macchiato Latte (This is was as close to a Nescafe coffee as I could get). The Cafeteria food was just bad! No comments. Don’t even remember the food. The supper we ended up eating at the local DSC_0578Pakistani/Bangladeshi restaurant. I experienced snow for the first time in Schweinfurt.
Out of excitement of seeing the snow, I put on my warm clothes and walked out to the street. The time was past 2 am and I ended up locking myself out of the Hotel we stayed. Lucky for me, a taxi guy helped me to figure out that my room key was also a key to the hotel! Friday night, again the host arranged for a tour of the city which culminated at an Indian Restaurant.

France

Yet again, we travelled on Saturday to the City of Tours. It is very difficult to get any directions in France if you are speaking in English. On point, they don’t help the English speaking tourist. So we just scouted the area and stuck to an Indian place for our supper meals. In the Cafeteria, I literally did a hand flapping gesture to ask if the meat served was chicken. I truly understood then, how difficult it is for people who travel not knowing the local language. The Friday, the hosts took us on a tour of the City of Tours – Saint-Gatien Cathedral, Loire Valley Chateaux, Woodrow Wilson Bridge over the River Loire

and the dinner was at a French Restuarant, lucky for us we had our host who helped us figure out the menu. The city of Tours was famous for its own bubbly ( champagne kinda white wine- am not sure what they explained).DSC_1101 We had a taste of it and I had some amazing Oysters in a white wine sauce and the world famous Creme Brulee for desert.On the Saturday of our week in France, our hosts obliged and we went to the city of Paris. We went to see the Eiffel Tower and stayed there till the cold hurt my bones. Later I had dinner with a friend from college, who was living in Paris. Then back to my room.

This although was not a complete gastronomic journey. It was a Journey nonetheless. Hope you have enjoyed the read, as much as I enjoyed the nostalgia. I wish I remembered more and a travel journal would have been helpful. A note to myself.

PS: the photos attached here are my own. So pardon the angle or composition of the photo.

Gastronomic Journey continues…

Gastronomic Journey continues…

For the second part of the series, lets ‘be roman in Rome’. Today’s post is all about that variety of cuisines that I have had whilst travelling.

On a principle, I don’t go seek for Indian food while travelling. Why ? For one, I could cook or get a cooked Indian meal and the other is simply that I don’t want to try an outsider’s take on Indian food. It is disappointing. Lastly, enjoying the local food is probably one of the best ways to experience the place. So let’s dig in.

On a personal visit, have travelled to Singapore and Malaysia, and in an official capacity have been to the USA, The Netherlands, France and Germany.

Singapore

In 2007, I and my elder sis were visiting our eldest in Singapore. What first surprised us in DSC04873Singapore is the usage of honey in a chicken dish. I mean, we were into Indo-Chinese food and we loved our spicy Chinese that we got in Bangalore. And so, the sweet chicken dish was not so welcomed. I loved Singapore’s food courts that are always around the corner. For $10 SGD we had 2 meat 1 rice combo. The china town’s street food was yet another palate dance. Where we had peanuts and honey and all things sweet into our noodles. That is where I learnt that the Malaysian flat noodles (which I love) DSC04875was called kway-teow (Here in Chung wah they still end up calling in kothai.. am all???). I was introduced to the Satay which is basically like our kebabs but with sauces.  It is a very on-the-go food. Another memory was the food court near Raffles Place (the banking district), that place was just an explosion of smells. They were strong coz most of them serve the meat of choice (chicken, beef, pork) steamed like a soup. Steamed meat has the most pungent smell. I was very eager to get out that place. Another food that I had I do remember is Singapore McDonald’s McSpicy. This is way before it was introduced in India and it didn’t even taste half as good as what was served in Singapore. The McSpicy there is succulent, juicy and flavourful.  McD in India still hasn’t captured the taste of the non-veg eaters.

Malaysia

Although we visited Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Genting Island, the most of Malaysia that I remember is Langkawi. The beach – as is always my favourite place, a boat tour of the mangrove, water sports, the bat caves all were amazing sights.  But unfortunately, I don’t remember the food as much except one evening that we dined and had some amazing seafood! The crab was just too delicious and I was told by my Brother-in-law that some other foreigner took a picture of me, completely immersed in scooping out every possible ounce of crab meat  (I didn’t look around to confirm it, was too happy with the food).

And Now to all my Official travel.

The USA

The longest I have stayed out of the country is in the USA. For two whole months, and gastronomically I have tried Mongolian, Thai, Chinese, Highway style diners and breakfast places, Italian, Mexican and of course the all-American Fast Food Joints.

Travel to the US was back in 2010, Mongolian style barbeque was totally new to me (long after I found one such place in Kormangala, but haven’t tried it yet). The concept being, one chooses ‘all’ the ingredients one would want in their dish and have stir-fried with no extra addition by the chef at the counter. From the veggies to the meat, the sauces, the images (3)spice powders, main carb- noodles, rice. The catch is if you didn’t know what goes along with what, and how much needs to you go into the meal, you’ll end up with a disaster! but luckily the few of us who had some sense of cooking and ingredient compositions got it right. It became a meal I’d remember after 6 years!

Chinese – The all you could eat buffets with a lot of variety in protein! Apart from the standard chicken, fish, beef, pork they were octopus, squids, and even frog legs 😀  I couldn’t bring myself to eat the octopus but did try the frog legs (they didn’t keep actual frogs there, they looked a lot like chicken wings, so the repulsion factor was a bare minimum). They even had sushi(Japanese) in the Chinese buffet. Go Figure.

Mexican- am not a rajma person. I don’t really enjoy beans and so I didn’t like Mexican. For me, it was basically rajma and paratha (beans and tortillas). Pardon my dumbing-it-down to Indian. Even a chicken dish had beans. Mexican suits the Indian palate. For many who couldn’t relish the other cuisines, they found a close cousin in Mexican food.

Thai – I had some Thai rice and Thai red curry with that. Back then I was not into coconut flavoured food. I clearly remember thinking to myself – Thai is sort of Kerala styled food (Pardon me again for my limited knowledge of the cuisine). For me, anything that had strong coconutty flavour was keralian style! my Punjabi colleague thought I would enjoy download (4)Thai as it again seemed to a flavour profile like Indian. The next time she hosted me and took me home, I clearly told, I would love to eat some lasagne and Ceaser salad (she is an exceptional cook).

Italian – For my birthday we dined out at The Olive Garden. That’s the extent of my Italian experience. Frankly, I loved our Little Italy’s take on Italian food (one regret is that it’s vegetarian).

Highway styled diners and breakfast- they were good for the chicken steak, side of veggies and mashed potato. And offcourse pancakes with maple syrup. Loved the breakfast there.

At the extended-stay hotel we were in served us a daily breakfast and weekly 3 days Indian meals. The breakfast was really good spread of oatmeal, scrambled egg, 3 kinds of cereal, muffins- blueberry, choco chip and banana, bread and marmalade, waffles on Thursday, sausages, fruits. We were well fed for the 2 months we stayed.

The dinners, although they served Indian food, we were better off eating their regulars,  for Indian food meant read-to-eat precooked meals. On the other days, we had sloppy joes and some hot dogs from the grill. Burger king, Taco bell, and KFC were all walking distances from where we stayed. So we did visit these frequently.

This post has become quite long. So for other countries visited.. stay tuned.

I had a lot of experience with the sights and places of interests- the museums and water worlds, 4th of July fireworks at both Niagara falls and Newyork, Walking all over Chicago and Newyork, and downtown Detroit. Been at the top of some of the world’s tallest buildings – The Sears Tower in Chicago, The Empire State Building in Newyork, The Petronas Tower (twin tower) in Kuala Lumpur, The Eiffel Tower in Paris. These all are part of a treasure trove of memories, maybe someday they might be shared on this blog.

 

Come along on My Gastronomic Journey…

Come along on My Gastronomic Journey…

I had picked up this book “Rude Food: The Collected Food Writings of Vir Sanghvi” last week and did love to read it. The author Vir Sanghvi is someone who’s style of presenting had always seemed not the run-of-the-mill, also his wit was clearly visible. It is a really good read but with one problem (for me), the details on the delectables are just too much of a tease. The first part “enter the dragon” is all about Chinese and Thai cuisines. The more I read the more I was enticed. So, just thought a very simple thing that I could do is just to put it down and don’t read. Luckily for me, the second part “high life” just became more of a how-to and a what-is guide to caviar, truffles, and chocolate etc. I didn’t get past the truffles and caviar. Although the chapters aren’t to be read in tandem but written so to enjoy each as an independent article in itself, I lost my appetite (pun). The indulgent read became very irrelevant to me.

But it did spark a delightful thought journey to all my gastronomic escapades. And so, here I am penning those thoughts. Since a rambling of ” I had this or that” isn’t going to be a good write. Instead, I could organize it into a collection of posts (inspired by the book of course). Hopefully, I have enough to write to call it a series if not a collection.

So, giving a purview on the topics – street food, being roman in Rome (cuisines that I have tried whilst traveling), the buffet bunch, college adda and if on a whim, there could be more.

Street food

I love street food – the chaats, momo’s, dosa camps, kaiyendhi bhavans, vada pav, the faafda and chilly, fruit chaats, thick with malaai badam milk, hot jalebi’s, bajji’s and bonda’s, kaati rolls, bombay sandwich.The list could literally go on and on.

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I should be thanking my Dad for introducing us to all the late-in-the-evening nagrathpet’s (avenue road perpendicular) multiple-course meals. We would start the first course with kaiyendhi bhavan, which loosely translates ‘to seek with one’s hands’ bhavans. There weren’t plates, it was just a cleaned out pattal/patravali leaf or a banana leaf. They had the most scrumptious masala dosa and soft like cotton idly’s with the basic red(tomato) chutney download (4)and white (coconut) chutney and my Dad always had chithranna there. On to our second course would be the Fruit chaat, this is where I learned the idea of adding some honey on to your fruits for that extra sweetness. Tip: always try to go for the fruits from the Muslim fruits stall vendors. They have the skill to choose the ripened good tasting fruits.images (2) Then for the drink to wash it all down- the badam milk. They keep the milk ever-boiling on a HUGE shallow kadai. You could always ask for the extra maalai. Piping hot drink. Just pure awesome. Then at the end was this ‘thatha’ with a huge pappad.

When I spoke of this to my friend he mentioned the Food Street in V V puram. A bunch of download (7)guys treated me for my send off, they thought I would fly away to Germany. So they routed the taste routes on the street. We started off with some chaat and sugar cane juice and then moved on to Bun Congress from V B Bakery. (Congress for the uninitiated is nothing but really spicy roasted split groundnuts. 2 rupees is all that you needed to get a fistful of congress. It was a staple for many school goers back then). Then the baiji’s and the all-year-round obattu and oligai (dal and coconut poli’s). We didn’t go for dosa and idly coz we were full already. And so we finished off with masala soda.

download (6)Also on Food Street one can find, a heaven for the side snackers – Vaasavi Condiments, it is the place to go when the hitikbele season starts in Bangalore, you get hitikbele in all possible varieties- spicy, non spicy, garlicky, just salted, pepper salted etc. On Food street, you could get all the Shetty style snacks -curd kodbele was too ingenious for me.

download (2)Although I haven’t yet tried – it remains a bucket list item, to check out either Shivajinagar or MM road for the many varieties of non-veg food specially cooked during the month of Ramadan. Another street food during that season would be the onion samosa’s.

 

Another place to be mentioned here is Sagar on the Dr. Rajkumar road in Rajajinagar, this place although a restaurant has a very active street scene. The place is open well beyond 12.30 in the night. I and my sis have had many a late night snacks when we have to drop off our parents or our other sis to the airport. The mango milkshake is the best I have had.images (4) Note: offseason too is available, but not that tasty. It’s mango milkshake with cream and little cubes of Alphonso mangoes. They have pav bhaji, vada pav, dabeli and the faafda with chilly until late night.

When we talk of Faafda and chilly, how could one forget sukh saagar. That place is heaven for all vegetarians. Their ice creams wouldn’t melt that quick, they maintained the texture just until it would melt into your mouth. SukhSaagar’s falooda is probably only download (3)second best to their rabdi Khulfi.They have a section each for mumbai chaat and delhi chaat- 2 very different chaat styles. Should try, to know the difference.

Of course, I couldn’t probably end this post without talking about the ubiquitous chowmein, fried rice and gobi manchurian. Every chaat stall invariably ended up serving these.

There is street food stall in Kasturinagar, where the guy started off with momo’s and soup and ended up serving up to 10 items within a year. So is the craze of street food.

Writing the post has made me want some street food, so will be gone now. Do share your favorites and where to find them.