Friday, September 30, 2011

Bombe Habba - Dussera / Navaratri

It is festivities time!

With Navaratri, begins the display of traditional toys (bombe habba in Kannada). This is a practice among many families in South India. In Tamil Nadu it is called Bommai Kolu/Golu and Kolu Bommai in Andhra Pradesh.

The dolls are displayed on a tiered stand usually covered with a white cloth. There is no hard and fast rule for the arrangement of dolls. However, some begin the display with the 'pattada bombe'. These are traditional wooden toys artistically decorated, symbolic of a royal couple. Pattada Bombe are displayed as a mark of respect to the royal family of Mysore, as they initiated the Dussera celebrations on a grand scale in Karnataka during the Wadiyar rule.

At home, we set up the bombe stand and displayed the Pattada Bombe along with ambal/devi kalasha (a practice in Tamil Nandu), as we follow the culture of both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu (my husband is from TN). That apart, my daughter arranged traditional toys made of clay and wood, collected over the years.

My Bombes

As always, food is an integral part of celebrations. This Dussera, my family helped me with traditional sweets and savories. My mother made the savory 'shankar poli'. These are also called diamond cuts, shankarpali in Maharashtra and shakarpara in North India. These are deep fried sweet and salty diamond-shaped snacks. Yumm!

Shankar Poli

My grandmother and aunt made a sweet called 7-Cups. This is a burfi-type sweet made of seven different ingredients. Absolutely delicious! And my mother-in-law made aravane payasam, a traditional payasa/kheer native to Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

7 Cups

After all the sweet, it was time for some kharad usli (spicy kabuli chana snack) made by yours truly. It turned out pretty good (even though I say so myself) as I followed my father's recipe. He is a fantastic cook by the way!


Happy Dussera, Happy Holidays!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Vidyarthi Bhavan

A landmark that commenced operations in 1943 on the busy Gandhi Bazar main road, Vidyarthi Bhavan, as the name suggests, used to be an eatery mostly visited by students in and around Basavangudi. But that was then. Today, I have friends and family making trips from north, east and west corners of the city just to eat the popular "vidyarthi bhavan masal dose".

I have heard people cribbing about having to wait for nothing less that twenty minutes to get a table, or even how others breathe down your neck with a finish-fast-and-get-lost look as you eat. But then the wait and other small irritants are really worth it for the sakkth dose. And for the uninformed, they now have a token system and have created a waiting area outside where one can sit and wait for your number to be called out, or after getting your token, you can indulge in a bit of vegetable/fruit shopping instead of sititng around and waiting for your turn.

The once small Vidyarthi Bhavan is now renovated to accommodate more customers. Improved ventilation combined with ancient window grills and traditional wooden beamed ceiling keep the Hale Basavangudi charm intact. Not to forget the smart pencil sketches of famous Kannada personalities such as Sir M.Vishweshwaraiah and T.P Kailasam (amongst others) adorn the walls.

One of my recent visits here was on a Sunday, with family. As we entered, the strong combined aromas of ghee soaked dose, rava vade and filter coffee greeted us, as does the steady chatter of voices belonging to octogenarians, excited youngsters and kids. The aromas made me so giddy I dint know what to order first, but finally settled for the dose.

The waiting time for an order is about 15 to 2o minutes on a weekend, and about 10 minutes on any other day.

I watched as my plate of dose, one among the many plates expertly stacked on the arm of the staff arrives.

The melt-in-your-mouth, ghee soaked "masal dose" is beautifully roasted to a crisp golden brown on the outside and is soft and fluffy inside. Served with a generous helping of yummy thick coconut chutney, note that the chutney is poured into the plate, soaking the edges of the dose, making it taste even more delicious (possibly an acquired taste). I happily devoured two such doses. A meal here without filter coffee is incomplete, so that is what I downed next. My brother started with the rave vade, polished off three doses and ended the meal with a by-two coffee.

Satiated and happy, we all trooped home for a lazy Sunday.

On the price front, VB is considerably light on the wallet

PS: After a meal at Vidyarthi Bhavan, one can skip lunch and dinner!