Tag Archives: food

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 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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Delhi Belly – II

The Delhi food orgy continued with further detailed explorations into the succulent nuances of street food. This time we went to the boisterous Chandni Chowk and had quite a gastronomic adventure.

Daulat ki Chaat

One of the most interesting dishes I tasted was the very famous “Daulat ki chaat ” .¬†Available only in winters, though it is ¬†rumored to be available in summers before 6 a.m. This is said to be a dish that originated from the Mughal kitchens. Made of light as air whipped cream and topped with¬†caramelized¬†nuts…it is easy to imagine some royal indulging in this delight.

Natraj @ Chandni Chowk

Aloo Tikki

We ate some amazing aloo tikki and Dahi Bhalla (the only  items on the menu) at the famous Natraj at Chandni Chowk. The food lived up to the reputation of the place with the crisp, tangy, hot Tikkis hitting the spot on a cold winter day. The luscious, creamy, soft dahi bhallas gave stiff competition to the tikkis.

Parathewalli Galli @ Chandni Chowk

Mirchi ka paratha

And how could one go to Chandni Chowk and not visit the famous Parathewalli galli. The place lived up to some of the hype. The crowd and the atmosphere definitely¬†equaled¬†my imagination, but the parathas themselves and the manner in which they were cooked was a big surprise. I had never imagined such a wide array of parathas cooked so fast and in a manner befitting a poori rather than a paratha. We had aloo, gobi, paneer and on recommendation – green chilly paratha’s. Having eaten our stomachs full we then proceeded to eat desert at a shop down the road. All in all the whole trip was tremendously successful.

Kulfi @ Chandni Chowk

The last thing we had a Chandni Chowk was the delightful Kulfi. Thickened milk laced with nuts, cardamom and saffron, frozen and served on a stick. I call it heaven on a stick. There is something that makes ice cream or in this case kulfi eaten in the dead of winter a very good experience. It surely was a great way to end a magical day of foodie exploration.

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Delhi Belly – I

Humayun's Tomb, Delhi

After 11 years of visiting Delhi, I finally managed to take a tour of Delhi that I liked…A Foodie Tour… of all the roadside joints Delhi is famous for. And boy was it a tour…proof of how awesome it was can be found in the fact that it left me with a Delhi Belly…the literal rather than the¬†connotative type.

Chole Bhatura at Bengal Sweets

Falooda Kulfi @ Bengal Sweets

The food comprised of all the possible goodies that one could imagine. From sweets, to samosas, from bhaturas to parathas. We ate them all. At Sarojini Nagar we had these amazing Moong Dal ke Pakodas. Its this crispy outside, soft inside pakoda which is served with grated radish and mint chutney. Truly great soul food.

Urad Dal Pakodas @ Sarojini Nagar

Urad Dal Pakodas

To top it off we stayed at my Sister in laws place and God bless her, she is a great cook. So if we got fed up of the Delhi type eats we came home to moist carrot cake with orange laced cream cheese icing, walnut cookies, dark, luscious brownies and Provencal stews.

Carrot cake with Orange Cream Cheese topping

Walnut cookies

The delights of Delhi were so many and so varied that to do it justice I have to spread it over a couple of posts…so look out for Part II of Delhi Belly

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A Haat in Tuljapur

The crazy thing ¬†about village markets is the amazing stuff you get there, and the absolutely mind boggling meld of smells, colours and textures that assail you. Its a 360 degree sensual experience. In my time I have been to my fair share of these markets. They are called Santha in some parts of South India and Haat in other parts of India. These markets happen on one or two particular days of the week and can be a delightful experience if you don’t mind sharing you space with a huge throng of humanity plus cattle, dogs, goats and chickens. One of the best haat’s I visited was in Tuljapur, Maharashtra. It had all the makings of brilliant market¬†experience. Interesting people attired in bright clothing, a variety of fruits, vegetables and grains on sale along with an assortment of other things that were deemed important in the scheme of rural life.

A farmer at the Haat

 

The people were dressed in their traditional attire. There were men in Dhotis and bright pink turbans and women in navvari (nine yard) sarees.

Onion Sellers

The market sold a variety of things but a few of them were particularly interesting. for instance I came across an interesting arrangement of what initially looked like hand fans. On closer inspection I realized that they were actually brooms.

Brooms

And then there was the absolutely mouth watering bread lane. Here they were selling khari,  rusk, biscuits and a variety of other stuff. Most of these, especially the khari and the rusk are eaten dipped in hot tea. The whole lane was shaded by a yellow tarpaulin that cast the most beautiful light over all the brown and golden bread.

Bread Market

One of the more interesting things I came across was the ladies selling dried fish. Dried fish is very popular in the coastal areas of India and can be cooked in a variety of ways. To start with the fish has to be thoroughly washed to remove any trace of the sand and stones that get attached to it during its preparation period (fish is often salted and dried on road sides and sea shores). So washing the dried fish is essential. Not only does this clean the fish, but it also removes the excessive salt used in preserving the fish. Once the fish is washed it can been cooked in one of two ways. Either made into a spicy curry of tamarind juice, red chillies, curry leaves and mustard seeds or fried along with a whole lot of onions and curry leaves as an accompaniment to a dal or rasam and rice.

Dried Fish

Dried fish as the name suggests is not only fish, but also shrimp and prawns. Usually sardines and mackerel as well as Bombay Duck lend themselves to being dried.

The haat at Tuljapur was delightful. It left me with so many memories of food and people.

Vegetable cart

 

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