Venkatadri Vantillu

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Now that I am back in Visakhapatnam, I have the opportunity to go and visit all those lovely simple tiffin places that serve the most superlative authentic South Indian tiffins. Light as air idlis, crispy flavorful dosas, wadas, uttappams, rawa dosas, poori and curry…Droooooool.

 

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Masala Dosa and MLA Pesarattu

In Vizag, if you ask people about the best tiffins, each one will have their own choice. After all there are so many to choose from. However there are a few whose names will slip off the lips more often that others. Two of these are Sai Ram Parlour and Venkatadri Vantillu. Known for their quality of food and the reasonable pricing.

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Both these establishments started off serving simple South Indian food from roadside shops. Quintessential South India Fast food. But such was their fame and quality that Sai Ram can no longer be called a small joint. They have also diversified into serving Chinese and Mughlai food.

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The tea-coffee counter

For the purpose of this post I would like to talk about Venkatadri Vantillu. Started many years ago by an enterprising lady, Mrs. Indira, who made her talent in cooking a means of livelihood by selling food from a roadside stall. Such was her popularity that she had to shift out of her first location due to the traffic jams caused by her throngs of customers. Some difficulties later she opened a shop on VIP road in CBM Compound, which is where I went to get my Sponge Dosa fix.

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Unlimited sambar and chutneys

I would recommend that you try anything off the menu and it will be great. Food is cooked fresh, with oodles of ghee and chutney podi and served sooper fast to the hungry masses clamouring outside. However, I would not miss the sponge dosa, the MLA Pesarattu, the Ghee roast and the Idlis. Oh and the Pongal is great too…and the coffee…and the…well just try everything, but in small doses. As I said the ghee is generously drizzled over everything. Be warned that if you go during their busy times you will have a wait in front of you.

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Mrs. Indira at the cash counter

I love Venkatadri not only for the fabulous food. Its also the people who man (or should I say woman) the place that make it such a pleasure. There is the ever smiling Mrs. Indira who welcomes you to the joint. There are the efficient and feisty servers and cooks who keep up an animated exchange with the customers. One thing I especially like is the fact that the Vantillu employs many women. Its a change from the normal tiffin parlours where you only see men.

 

 

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The lady who calls the orders out to the cooks

I couldn’t get any pictures of food I ordered. Call it my greed but I clear forgot. So the next time I go, I have to control myself and take some pictures. I want to show you the sponge dosas and the pooris and the coffee and the ghee roast…well till next time then…and knowing me and my craving for Venkatadri, it will be sooner than later… ūüôā

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Santha Revisited

FirstShot_0348It seems the circle has come around and I found myself one Wednesday evening at the Santha once again. Having the trusty Canon for company always wonderful leaves me with wonderful memories to look back on. And so it was, that having bought my weeks quota of vegetables and fruit, I left my purchases with my old vege-seller lady Lakshmi and headed out to capture some new images, some new impressions.

The first thing you notice as you approach the Santha is that it is located in the Hindustan Shipyard Colony at Scindia Junction. The HSL Colony as it is called is a throw back to the era when companies provided housing for their employees in a more socialistically inclined time. Since then the houses have aged considerably and the approach to the market is like a trip into another era. Image

There are cows and bullock carts, old tile roofed houses that hark back to the sixties or seventies and earlier, huge wells, bore well pumps, ancient trees and quaint tea stalls. On non market days its great fun to roam around here and just take in the sedate atmosphere and interesting folk art on the doors and walls. But that’s for another post.

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The above picture is of an old mill that is quite dilapidated and abandoned. Walking around here always reminds me of the village sets of old movies like Karan Arjun or Sholay.

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And as you walk through all this quite and peace, you start noticing a change. A charge in the air, a purpose to the stride in the people about you. Heavens! you begin to notice people and lots of them!!!

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And so you reach the Santha…that hubbub of humanity that keeps you coming back.

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The Samosa seller, an old acquaintance, though happy to see me was not willing to be photographed. And so I captured his yummy samosas all ready to be dunked in piping hot oil to be browned and crisped till the spice potato stuffing is steaming and ready to burn your tongue.

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And the yummy road style noodle guy was there with his charming wife. Indian road side noodles are unlike anything you will eat anywhere, especially in China, the birth place of their namesake. Spicy (read garam masala) and greasy, with very few vegetables but abounding in flavor, they are a once-in-a-while treat I never fail to indulge in.

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The noodle sellers wife.

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My favourite vege lady, Lakshmi. She was really happy to see me back!!! And her veges are as fresh as ever.

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Lakshmi, her family and her stall. I am their loyal customer.

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Garlic, ginger and tamarind sold in huge mounds.

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There is always time for a chai break.

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Some vendors come and sell just one fruit or vegetable. Like the boy selling bananas or the old man selling tindli.

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Tomatoes are a delight…and so abundant. Here are some ladies trying to choose the best of the lot.

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The cows are always a part of an Indian market landscape. The vendors tolerate them as long as they don’t mooch off their produce. Totally fearless, the cows amble around the market shoving people out of the way. This cow is walking on the wall alongside the fruit market that is located on the far end of the Santha.

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No matter how many other vegetables you buy, the onion and the potato has to be on the list. This was at a time when the price of onions were quite high. The onion seller was surely feeling the strain.

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The lime seller has such a simple yet pretty stall along the fruit lane. Lime is expensive this time of the year. I got 4 for Rs. 10/-

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Even the most energetic market has pockets of quite and silence and frankly sadness.

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The flower seller. The gloves are a new addition. I wonder why. He is selling marigold (banthipoo) and chrysanthemums (chamanthi) Image

This lady was selling papaya and clay piggy banks. Odd combination, but I love the colourful piggy banks and their fruit shapes. They cost about 30 to 40 rupees.

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The broom, rope and wooden implement seller. This was his pose when I asked if I could take a picture. He refused to smile. ūüôā

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Respite in the rush. A poor homeless man and a dog find a common platform for a siesta

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As night falls the toy vendor displays his wares in all their neon brightness.

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Glitter coated pine cones for the home.

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More glittery dried flowers. Didn’t get to ask the price.

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The knife sharpener made for a very interesting photo op. He charges Rs. 20/- to sharpen a knife.

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As the sun sets on the Santha, I was pleased at a day well spent. Can’t wait for Sunday, when it begins all over again.

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Santha in Vizag

During my two year stint in Visakhapatnam, I had the pleasure of going twice a week to a village Santha where villagers would come and sell their vegetables, fruit, fish, meat and other wares. These were my impressions of the Santha at Scindia Junction in Visakhapatnam…

Below is a picture of the flower seller at the Santha. He sold Jasmin or Mullapoo as it is called and Sampangi, Chamanthi, Kanakambram, and tulasi malas for the hair as well as loose flowers including roses for pooja.

The Andhra Chilly is famous for its intense heat and this old lady is selling some of these. The heat of these chillies can be made out by their size, and colour. The smaller, the thinner and the darker green they are, the spicier they will be.

Below is a picture of my fish lady…she sold me amazingly fresh fish that she brought all the way from the Yarada fishing Village.

My fish lady had a fish cleaner lady who sat beside her. She chopped and cleaned the fish for a paltry sum of 5 Rupees.

After they saw that I was taking pictures they all wanted their pictures taken. Before I left I printed out the lot and gave it to them. They laughed themselves silly at the results!!!

Street Snack vendor selling Onion Samosas, ¬†Dal Vadas, Arusu, Bobbattu and Gaari’s¬†

Juicy, tangy, yummy Jamuns at 20 Rupees a glass…

This is a¬†picture¬†of the lady I bought vegetables from every week…we became quite good friends.. ūüôā

I just love the smile on the Lady…she looks beautiful…

The Black and white bag is one of many that are found in abundance in the Santha. They are hand made from plastic thread or strips and can only be ordered from some ladies who make them at home. Approximate cost 150/- rupees.

I love this picture and the way the lady looks but when I gave her her picture she told me frankly that she thought I knew nothing of photography and that I had taken a horrendous picture. Chandalam is the word she used. It means disgusting!!!! LOL

Colourful Fryums…eaten as a snack or as an accompaniment to a meal of rice, lentils and a vegetable fry.

The market has two tea sellers who walk around carrying this bag with thermos flasks filled with tea and small plastic glasses. They are a total lifeline for the villagers. The tea is milky, sweet and laced with ginger, cardamom and cloves…Masala chai!!!

The Bullock Cart that transports the produce to the markets.

Onion Seller. She looked like she had woken from a restful nap.

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Crawford Market

After shifting to Mumbai…and taking an inordinate amount of time to settle down…I made my first trip to one of my favouritest places in Mumbai…Crawford Market…Crawford Market or¬†Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Mandai as it is now called¬†¬†is one of South Mumbai’s¬†most famous markets. It is named after Arthur Crawford¬†the first Municipal Commissioner¬†of the city.¬†The market is situated opposite the Mumbai Police¬†headquarters, just north of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus¬†railway station and west of the J.J Flyover¬†at a busy intersection. The market houses a wholesale fruit, vegetable and poultry market. One end of the market is a pet store. Different varieties of dogs, cats, and birds can be found in this area.¬†Also, endangered species are illegally sold there.¬†Most of the sellers inside the market sell imported items such as foods, cosmetics, household and gift items. Other than the old building completed in 1869, Crawford Market as a name has come to also refers to the shopping areas in the streets that adjoins it.

I have many of my favourite shops here including Aarif where I buy all my baking supplies, there is the¬†labyrinthine Mangaldas Market for all this cloth related and the various nooks and¬†crannies¬†where various surprises are to be found…in no particular order these are my pictures of my trip to crawford…

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Bhagat Tarachand is an old vegetarian eatery located in the innards of Zaveri Bazaar…know for their delicious food one must be aware that there are 2 establishments with the same name (I think this may be caused by some family feud but the details evade me). They have soft melt in you mouth rotis served with a huge pat of Amul Butter and best eaten with their Paneer Bhurji and Dal Tadka…

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Of course the reason I like Bhagat Tarachand is the fact that they serve buttermilk in beer bottles!!!!

You get both the masala as well as the sweet version…here I am seen guzzling the the masala chaas ūüôā

 

We had gone to Crawford looking for gifts to be given out during an anniversary celebration…this was outside one of the shops we visited…I believe it is used for wedding gifting…hmmmm

This sweet looking goat was¬†tethered¬†to a wall near a shop…most probably being fattened up for the slaughter ūüė¶

There is a lane in off Zaveri Bazaar where one can buy any kind of decoration one would require, from birthday’s to weddings to Christmas and New Year…its a colourful and¬†fascinating¬†street.

These plastic lotuses were stacked in piles at the¬†entrance¬†of the shop we finally picked up ours gifts from…

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All¬†that¬†walking¬†around¬†and shopping got up¬†really¬†tired and we had a refresher in this yummy drink that was sold by a wayside vendor…it was some sort of¬†flavored¬†milk, chilled and served with fine¬†julienne s¬†of apple….very refreshing and yummy

This was the man selling the drink…he was really sweet but wouldn’t tell us what he put in it… ūüôā

just thought this dog was so cute…the guys at the back were seriously perplexed as to why I was photographing the dog!!!

The sky was criss-crossed with¬†innumerable¬†cables going from one building to another…these provided great¬†perches¬†for the equally innumerable¬†pigeons.

This is one of my¬†favorite¬†photographs of that trip…I found this on the wall of a shop selling all things fishing…the old man was so¬†averse¬†to being a part of the frame that he left the shop and told me to take the photograph…:-D

 

 

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Poorna Market III

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A market is only as interesting as the people who inhabit it…and Poorna Market is indeed a mixed bag of characters. Here is a family of basket weavers sitting outside their home cum shop.

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A small boy from the basket weaver family. His name is Kishore and he was a real sweet heart.

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An old lady sweeping the backyard in the basket weavers lane.

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A vegetable lady who was very curious as to why I wanted to take her photographs. Her skin is yellow because of the turmeric she has applied to her skin as part of a purification process…

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Samudri Amma…or as she says Sundhari amma…she was so curious and happy to pose for photographs…I think she is beautiful…

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Details of the nose ring worn by Samudhri Amma…very pretty…

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Another vegetable seller. When I asked her to pose for a photograph she dew herself all stiff and formal…but I told her she should smile and she broke into the most¬†beautiful¬†smile ever. I also dig her nose rings.

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Another vegetable lady…

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And her friend who sat next to her. I was very taken by the animal printed saree blouse.

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This was a gentle man who was selling ropes. He was very happy to pose and I love the hair coming out of his ears.

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Ugadi Pachadi Recipe

Ugadi Pachadi Recipe:

Ingredients:

2 tsp neem flower
4 tsp chrushed jaggery (gur)
one small lemon size ball of tamarind made into thick tamarind water (imli)
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp mustard seeds(rai dana)
Salt to taste
1 tsp oil
1 tbsp finely chopped raw mango (kachcha aam)
1 cup water
For Garnish:
Banana Sliced
Coconut cut into slivers

How to make Ugadi pachadi:

  • First add the raw mango pieces to the tamarind water and bring it to boil.
  • Boil it till mango pieces are tender
  • Now to this add jaggery and let it cook till it melts and blends into the mixture
  • Remove from heat and keep aside
  • Now in a pan, heat oil and add mustard seeds let them splutter, add neem flower and fry till light brown
  • Now add chilli powder and salt
  • Mix well
  • Take this neem flower tadka and add it to the tamarind and mango juice
  • Serve in small quantities as an accompaniment to the main course food.
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Poorna Market, Visakhapatnam

One early morning a few days ago I set out camera in tow to check out Poorna Market, located in the old one town area of Visakhapatnam. It was the day before the new year festival of Ugadi also known as Gudi Padava in other parts of India. Poorna Market is an old fruit and vegetable whole sale market which is a crazy place like any other old Indian market. I have been meaning to ¬†explore the market for a long time and I must say that the experience did not disappoint me. Here are some of the sights that greeted me…

Ugadi means the beginning of a new ear and is celebrated on the first day of the Chaitra month in the Hindu Calendar. Chaitra is the first month in the Panchang or the Hindu calendar. The thing I love about the Ugadi festival in Andhra is the tradition they have of making and feeding everyone a special delicacy called the Ugadi Pachadi. It is said to have the flavours of sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and spicy that represent the various flavours of life. In eating a bit of the Pachadi the devout are acknowledging the different aspects of life and how they are all a part of human experience. I shall dig out the recipe and share it on my next post.

Neem Flowers

The lovely and delicate Neem tree flowers.

A lane near Poorna Market

A temple in the one town area

Poorna Market

The Poorna Market is a maze of marrow lanes meandering in no particular direction, divided rather haphazardly into fruit, vegetable, meat, fish, cane, pottery and condiment areas.

Oranges behind Crates

Thermocol Balls in all their psychedelic splendor

Mirror frames...

Sugarcane sellers

These are just a few images of Poorna Market…I will post more by and by…hope you enjoyed these.

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Annabelle

Someone that makes me very happy is my darling cat Annabelle. More than being my pet, she is my owner. She rules me with a steely glance. Like an indentured slave I do her bidding, but more than my life she rules my heart…rescued from a slum in Mumbai, she came to me as an¬†emaciated¬†little¬†kitty. But by and by she gained strength and now she rules our home as if it were her¬†singular¬†fiefdom…here are some moods of Annabelle…

Annabelle as she came home for the first time

Annabelle doing what she does best - napping

The come hither look

Basking in the sun

I know I'm being photographed

Hunting mode

Paw Paws

Sleep

Darling!!!

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Gandhi Bazaar, Bangalore – II

Here are a few more memories of my walk through Gandhi Bazaar…I just can’t get enough of this place. The smell of flowers¬†intermingles¬†with the smell of tulsi leaves,¬†incense¬†sticks and hot filter coffee. It smells like heaven and my childhood rolled into one… ūüėÄ

Doggy Nap

The dog and the flower seller

Banana Leaf seller

Doggy with a glass of tea

Fruit Market

Drishti Dolls

These dolls are called Drishti dolls and they are hung outside homes to keep away the evil eye.

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