I am talking about the Mango, the undoubted King of Fruits, in my humble opinion. This is a fruit native to India (as highlighted by its scientific name, Mangifera indica). The best part of an Indian summer is the pleasure of consuming the different varieties of juicy and tasty Indian mangoes.
The start of this year’s season was severely impacted by the Covid pandemic crisis. For a while, there was huge uncertainty on whether we would even get to consume any mangoes this year. But then, the logistics slowly started opening up. Many farmers started supplying directly to apartment complexes. And because of the collapse of exports, the prices have been reasonable.
The first mangoes we consumer this season were Raspurisand Sindooris. This was followed by one of the varieties most commonly available in Bangalore – Banganapallior Bemisal. We then started receiving regular supplies of the prized Alphonsovarieties, but at very good rates. Next in line was the glorious Imampasand, possibly the best variety we have had this year. This was followed by Badamiand Mallika.
Each of the varieties has unique flavour characteristics. While Alphonsos are usually considered the King of Mangoes, this year we were exposed to other varieties that are equally, if not more, delicious.
It’s a shame that most of the outside world do not know about the varieties of Indian mangoes. I came across this interesting article that explains more about this King of Fruits. Happy reading, and happy mango eating!
I did step out for a bit of grocery shopping in the morning. Roads were pleasantly empty, as was to be expected. The grocery store (part of a national chain) had rules in place for entry (not more than 5 people inside at a time, no entry without masks). The security at the entrance was doing a reasonably good job of enforcing these regulations. Shoppers were patiently queuing outside while trying to maintain a reasonable distance from each other.
Inside, things looked pretty normal. The supply of fruits, vegetables and essential groceries did not look disrupted. There were some items that could be classified as non-essential that were out of stock. But I was able to find almost all of what I required and was in and out reasonably quickly.
I was a very late adopter of Netflix, only starting my subscription earlier this year. But I have been enjoying watching a few of the documentaries on there lately. I am presently watching a docu-series called ‘The Chef’s Table‘. It is fascinating to see and hear more about the philosophies of famous chefs, their journeys and experiences that led them ti where they are today and, of course, to view some of their beautiful masterpieces.
Steve Wozniak– Continuing with History, I just came across this fascinating interview with the co-founder of Apple. It seems like everyone knows everything about Steve Jobs, but this was an eye-opening interview about the engineer who set Apple on the path to future success.
Superintelligence– Speaking about the future, this is a thought-provoking article on what might be the biological impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on humans, and what the end state might look like. It also asks us to think about ‘Why is it that we exist as humans?’
What Noma did next: how the ‘New Nordic’ is reshaping the food world– And finally, a long, but very informative article from the word of Fine Dining. It is interesting to see how a restaurant (and now, movement) has been so successful in establishing a region that was not really know for its food culture on to the World Map of Fine Dining. It will be great to see something similar evolve for Indian (or South Asian) cuisine.
Though Bangalore is where I have spent the most of my adult life (across two stints), I have made no secret of the fact that I am yet to warm to the city in the same way as my home city of Mumbai. And one of the key factors in that is food.
I do not think anyone will argue that, between Bangalore and Mumbai, when it comes to food, Mumbai is streets ahead. And when it comes to street food, it is almost unfair to make any comparison – Mumbai’s exceptional street food at very reasonable prices is one of the best in the world, in my humble opinion. As one travel guide put it, Mumbai’s street food culture is more varied than many entire European / Western cuisines!
However, if there is one area where Bangalore manages to beat Mumbai, it’s to do with South Indian snacks. And specifically, the culture of ‘standing joints‘ which go by the generic names of ‘Darshinis’ or ‘Sagars’. Also called ‘Udupi‘ cafes, these typically serve hot vegetarian South Indian snacks usually cooked in full view of the customer and served with a range of delicious chutneys and sambar at pocket friendly rates – it is the closest that Bangalore gets to Mumbai street food. Add on the exceptional South Indian filter coffee which typically costs only Rs. 10, and you have a clear winner!
And like Mumbai street food, everyone, rich or poor, businessman or working class, can be seen standing and eating next to each other. The open nature of these cafe / restaurants with no glass frontage or door also makes for a very welcoming and comfortable space for segments of people who might otherwise think twice of eating out alone.
Almost every locality in Bangalore will have one of these. For a long time, it felt like the only exception was the area where I live. We had all the varied shops and restaurants you would expect in a typical middle / upper-middle income locality, except for one major gap – an Udupi restaurant. Thankfully, the gap was filled a few months. Maybe catering to the locality, this specific outlet does not have any ‘standing only’ tables. But in almost all other aspects, it sticks to the standard template. And, as was to be expected, the place has been buzzing almost from the first day.
I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend the wedding of a distant relative recently. Though it involved waking up early on a Sunday to make the trek right across town, it was worth it as we got to meet some family whom we have not met in a few years and, of course, to meet the couple and pass on our best wishes.
One of the highlights of any Indian wedding is definitely the wedding feast. And it was no different in this wedding either. The wedding was a Tamilian affair. But, as the bride’s family were from the state of Karnataka, the lunch turned out to be more of the Kannadiga style than the standard Tamilian sadya. So, while it did involve eating out of a banana leaf and lots of rice, there were quite a few other items on the menu that I did not recognise.
But that is not to say that it was not delicious. It most definitely was! In fact, as typically happens during a wedding lunch, I ended up eating so much that I was almost in a stupor afterwards! It was not helped by the fact that there were not less than three sweet items on the menu! The image above captures only a small portion of the food that was finally served (and consumed with relish :-)).
So a big thanks to my family members for kindly inviting us to the wedding!
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