During my holiday in Bangalore last week, I tried a few of Karnataka’s traditional dishes. Here are the special six tastes of Karnataka that I would recommend visitors to the state to try.
(1) Kesari Bath
During my visit to the neighbourhood of Basavanagudi, I had searched for an eatery specializing in local cuisine. I came across Vidyarthi Bhavan, a vegetarian eatery that started out in 1943 as a student canteen. While their dosas are quite famous, according to the waiter and the family who sat at my table, I decided to only try out Kesari Bath. This semolina sweet is a variation of the Kesari that is made in Sri Lanka and most South Indian states.
(2) Filter Coffee
After having had some terrible coffee in the first few coffee shops I had tried since arriving in Bangalore, the filter coffee at Vidyarthi Bhavan was a pleasant surprise. Simple and unassuming and served in tiny stainless steel cups, the hot beverage was a treat.
(3) Thatte Idli
On the drive to Mysore, the driver asked if I would like to stop for tiffin at Bidadi. According to him, “the idlis are famous here”. So, I took his advice and tried out the plate idlis made of a mixture of urad dhal (black gram), flattened rice and tapioca pearls. The resulting dish was very light and soft and tasted more like ‘appam’/ hoppers than idli.
(4) Mylari Dosa
During my search for local eateries in Mysore, I came across Hotel Mylari, an institution that started around 80 years ago and serves the unique Mylari Dosa made from a secret family recipe. With all the great reviews of this dosa, I had to try it out during my visit to the city. The tiny place only served dosas and the waiter served me mine on a plate with a banana leaf and with a dollop of butter and chutney.
(5) Rava Idli
On my last evening in Bangalore, I decided to go for evening tiffin at Mavalli tiffin room, another old eatery in the city that was started in 1924 and now has several branches around the city. I had read that they were the ones who concocted the first ‘rava idli’, which to this day remains a popular favourite at the eatery. So, I decided to try it out on my last evening in the city.
I noticed that the counter near the cashier had lots of packaged snacks and browsing through them, I decided to try out a fried snack called ‘Nippattu’. The snack is made of rice flour, fried gram and peanuts. It is quite addictive and I was not able to take a photo of it before my family consumed it all.
Which of the above six would you be interested in trying during your visit to Karnataka?
When I revisited the UNESCO Heritage site, the old town of Lijiang in Yunnan province of China in 2013 with Yuan, we tried out a lot of the local Naxi cuisine. Someone once told me that for every person, one of their senses tend to dominate more than the others when it comes to memories. So much so that for some, smells or tastes can unlock an entire treasure trove of memories. While I do feel that a particular sense tends to dominate in a particular context, I don’t feel that that same sense is dominant across all travel memories. I feel that it could vary. Some of my travel memories are connected to sounds or music that I was listening to during that travel and listening to that particular song(s) back at home can bring back the entire details of that particular travel memory – the place, the weather, the people, the conversations etc. This trip to Lijiang was connected with the tastes and flavours of Lijiang cuisine and perhaps the sense of taste was heightened because I could not participate in the conversations in Mandarin around me.
So, I am sharing the six special tastes that made up this visit.
- Street food night market
The evening Yuan and I arrived in the old town of Lijiang, we checked into our guesthouse and made our way to the night street food market to try out local delicacies. The street was packed with people and the range of local snacks on display was something to behold. I was happy that my friend was not only Chinese but knew the region well enough to recommend local specialty food. This is where I had my first taste of Er Kuai, which is a compressed rice cake, and loved it.
2. Breakfasting on Lijiang baba
When Yuan returned to the guesthouse from her 10 Km morning run on our first day, she brought these local pancakes for breakfast. They are called Lijiang baba and are a pan fried pancake. There are varieties of these pancakes but the one I tried was with eggs and spring onions. I loved them so much that I went to Naxi Snacks, the shop where they made these, each day for breakfast.
3. A bowl of fresh rice noodles in chicken broth
Yuan insisted we try out the fresh Yunnanese rice noodles in chicken broth which is a local specialty and which she said could not be found elsewhere in the country. I think Yuan would have been happy to have had this for all her meals during our time there. I had to put a lot of the coriander, spring onions and chopped chilli in my bowl to make it more flavourful for my palate.
4. A Naxi feast
A friend of Yuan’s, Anna, whose family we would be staying with during the next leg of our travel, invited us over to a dinner party with some of her friends. They treated us to a Naxi feast.
5. Steam pot Chicken
When we returned to Lijiang from our stay with Anna’s family, we went out for a farewell dinner with Anna. We decided to order the steam pot chicken, another specialty of the region.
6. Yunnanese veggies
For our last meal in the city, Yuan and I decided to try out more of the vegetarian dishes at Alily, a cafe that we had walked past often and wanted to try out. The spiced lotus root was a great balance to the spice-less tofu and greens soup.
Have you tried out Yunnanese cuisine? What has been some of your favourites or what would you like to try out?
A Swedish friend once asked me what typical Swedish food I missed. This post is about all the food that I miss from my years in Stockholm.
My favourite Swedish food is kanelbulle (cinnamon buns). The smell of freshly baked cinnamon buns and the texture and taste of the bun is unique to Sweden and I have loved it since I first tried it out. I have tried making my own kanelbulle as I started enjoying baking in recent years, but have not been able to get it quite right yet. As you can see from the photo below, courtesy of Visit Sweden, a perfect kanelbulle is a wonderful treat for all ages.
Credits: Susanne Walström/imagebank.sweden.se
Fika is a ritual in Sweden. I loved the fika breaks, chats over cups of Swedish coffee, like Gevalia, and a baked treat. One of my favourite fika treats, besides kanelbulle, is vetebröd. This is a lightly sweetened cardamom bread, that is perfect with coffee. I have tried making vetebröd at home several times using this recipe, which has turned out quite well.
This is a Swedish seasonal treat that makes its appearance in Stockholm bakeries during winter months and particularly for Shrove Tuesday. Semla is basically cardamom buns with an almond paste and whipped cream filling. What I like most about this tasty treat, besides the delicious combination of flavours, is that the cream is just a touch sweet without being too much.
Credits: Susanne Walström/imagebank.sweden.se
These saffron buns are made typically for St Lucia’s day on December 13. I was first introduced to it at work, during my teaching year at the International School of Stockholm. It is a lovely Scandinavian tradition, with children participating in a singing procession led by one girl dressed as St. Lucy, wearing a white dress and a red sash and a crown of candles on her head. The kids would share these saffron buns or cookies with others.
5. Glögg och pepparkakor
Something served during the Christmas season, Glögg (mulled wine) and Pepparkakor (gingerbread cookies) are a delicious treat during the cold winter days. In Sweden, there was also a non-alcoholic version of glögg called julmust, which was what my mother used to serve at home to visitors in December. My favourite memory of this combination of glögg and pepparkakor was at the ice-hotel in Kiruna, when after hours of waiting on the frozen river to see the northern lights, the warm spiced wine and cookies tasted delicious and wonderful.
Credits: Helena Wahlman/imagebank.sweden.se
6. Pannkakor och sylt
I have always been a huge fan of pancakes since I was a kid and sundays at home generally mean a pancake breakfast. So, it automatically followed that during my year of teaching in Stockholm, my favourite school lunch was the same as that of the kids – Swedish pancakes and sylt (jam or preserve), mostly lingonberry.
7. Pytt i Panna
After seeing many adverts on TV on this dish, we tried out the store bought pytt i panna (Swedish hash) and it soon started appearing on a regular basis at meal times at home. I like the vegetarian hash, with carrots, turnips, radish etc. more.
The Swedish open prawn sandwich makes for a delicious lunch. If you are able to get hold of a Toast Skagen, you are in for a bigger treat. I missed this so much so that I went to a Scandinavian Christmas fair in London, for this sandwich and a kanelbulle.
9. Salmon with new potatoes and dill sauce
This is a typical combination in a Swedish meal – new potatoes and dill sauce with poached salmon or gravlax (dill cured salmon). We didn’t make it at home but I often chose it, when eating out in Stockholm.
10. Ris à la Malta
I am a huge fan of Swedish rice pudding. One of my friends, Inna, and I used to play badminton at Frescatihallen at Stockholm University once or twice a week and we always treated ourselves to risifrutti (which is basically packaged store-bought ris a la malta) or mannafrutti, after our game.
Which is your favourite Swedish food? Or, which of the above would you love to try out during your visit to Sweden?
[I had drafted this post a while back but had not got around to finishing it, when I saw that the #travellinkup theme for September was memorable meals so I decided to share this post on food that make me nostalgic about my years in Stockholm, with the monthly link up, hosted by Angie, Emma, Jessi and Tanja