Embarking on a journey to Bangalore the author experience a plethora of challenges and adventures. In the second part of the series, he tries to find a non-vegetarian restaurant and eventually he encounter a charming middle-aged lady. Read the story to find what happens next.
By Somashis Gupta
Bong in Bang – Part 2
GPS and Sambar
My flight landed in Bangalore at half past four, along with my half-filled stomach with British ‘fish and chips’. The other empty half by now craved some; well if not Bengali at least for some good Indian food. So many halves, needed to be filled so I looked around as the car drove out from the Bangalore airport. I could spot a good number of restaurants. But as fortune would have it, they displayed a “Pure Veg” signage..
Just imagine, for a hardcore carnivore who eats almost everything which moves above the earth, on the earth, and under the earth, how dispiriting can it be. So I lost interest in life. Enquiring with people around I realized they understood nothing of my questions, so I preferred to trust the English-speaking GPS technology instead of speaking to a person here in Bangalore. At last, I found a Non-Veg restaurant which was at a distance of 900 meters. Just a 12 minutes walk GPS informed.
I started. 800…500…250…100 …I looked up in anticipation but I could see nothing…80….50…30 …10… finally GPS alerted ‘You Have Arrived’. But arrived where? The only thing around was an open field and an under-construction building. I started considering euthanasia again, but what happened next was a fascinating event that gave me a new interest to live. I spotted a Bar right across the field which raised an immediate craving for a beer.
I went in and found an empty table in the corner. The restaurant at the south of Bangalore was quite crowded I observed, I was lucky to find the only empty place. It was then when my order just arrived, that my eyes found a charming middle-aged lady, approaching me. To my surprise and equal delight, she said “Can I join you, as there is no empty cover left?”
“Sure, why not?” I invited her, carefully ensuring that my inner excitement is not exposed. What followed showed me that sometimes the most unexpected events can lead to the most memorable experiences. She ordered a meduvada with rasam as an accompaniment for her drink. I was left flabbergasted. Finally, after recuperating from the stupefaction I asked her “This is the strangest combination I have seen someone eat with drinks”
“Oh! So you are new to this part of the country” she concluded rightly.
“Yes, I am from Calcutta” I disclosed.
“Hmm I realized,” she sipped from her glass and asked, “so what do you usually eat with your drinks?”
“Well, maybe some pork or beef chili or some chicken wings, some mutton kabab or fish fry or sometimes even some baked vegetables,” I continued “but that is not why I am surprised, I have never seen someone eat Vada with rasam, with sambar yes but never with rasam”
“What kind of Sambar?” she asked.
“What kind means? Sambar is only one type, isn’t it? Rasam is a type of sambar I know and the other is Sambar which we have with dosa, vada, idly, or rice.”
“You are so funny” she laughed and informed, “firstly Rasam is made from tomatoes and not with lentils unlike Sambar, secondly Sambars are of many types and it depends on what it is served with.”
“Huh!” I was left open-mouthed again “many types of Sambar?”
“Yes with rice it is buttermilk sambar, Vathal Kuzhmabu or porcha kuzhambu,kadamba pitai, then there is Arachuvitta Sambar which is served with idli, similarly Karamani Kara Kuzhambu is consumed to reduce cholesterol and like this, there are so many more.”
“You surprise me, this is news to me” I confessed.
“Sambar from Karnataka is different from Tamil Naddu, the one you get here in Bangalore is slightly sweet and the Tamil version is a bit tangy”
“Oh! That is why the Sambar I was served here tasted different”
“Yes, the one you get in Calcutta is perhaps the Tamil version” she informed “do you know how Sambar was invented?”
“Now you make me interested to know more, please tell me”
“Well, the story goes this way, Shivaji’s son Sambhaji once made a dal for himself as his chef was out for some work. It turned out to be delicious and that is how the name came from Sambhaji Raje Bhonsale and was called Sambhar”
“This is fascinating,” I expressed “thank you so much for this information”
“But according to historian K. T. Achaya the word dates back to the 17th century and comes from the word champaram” she added.
“So which one is true?”
“Well that is debatable” she informed “but what is not debatable is the quality of good non-vegetarian food you get here in Bangalore, have you tried some?”
“I am dying to eat some good meat, please suggest some.” I requested.
Well, she recommended a few places that turned out to be wonderful. That story I shall share with you some other day. Till then let me try the different varieties of Sambars.
Adiós till we meet again
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A devoted foodie with keen interest in wild life, music, cinema and travel Somashis has evolved over time . Being an enthusiastic reader he has recently started making occasional contribution to write-ups.