My fondest memories of Bangalore are those connected with food. Like everyone else, I believe that my hometown has the best food 🙂
Of course there’s a lot to write about dining in Bangalore, but today I’ll stick to the ubiquitous “Iyengar Bakery” that used to be found in every nook and corner. And surprisingly, almost every bakery in town was called “Iyengar bakery”!
Since Bangalore was a favorite haunt of the British and a garrison town, very strong British influences could be found around the city – the bakeries being the most obvious ones. There was a much frequented one near the Nanjappa Circle bus-stop near our old school building. We used to stop there without fail to buy some goodies before proceeding to wait for the bus. This was one of the two stops near school, and the better one because it had a huge Banyan tree under which we could sit and munch while waiting for the bus. I remember spending all my pocket money at this bakery while my brother dutifully saved all of his in a piggy bank. However, I have no regrets 🙂 🙂
My favorite snack was a “slice” (probably found only in Bangalore). It was a greasy slice of bread topped with a spicy vegetable curry mostly made of cabbage, peas and carrots. Most kids liked them so they would disappear quite fast. If they were finished, then I’d opt for a vegetable puff – another tasty and greasy savory. Somehow didn’t care much for the sweet options like cakes and pastries when I was younger and developed a sweet tooth much later on.
The only sweet snacks I liked were “Dilkhush” and “Dilpasand”. They were sweet pies that consisted of puff pastry filled with either a gooey doughy coconut filling or a tutti-fruity and coconut filling, that were never too sweet. Never came across either of these pies anywhere else in India, even if they exist, they probably have different names.
This school bakery was a very small one compared to another one near our house or the one near our new school building in Koramangala. They had more options like the potato bun that became my hot favorite – it was a sweet fluffy bun filled with spicy potatoes. Would stop by without fail and have at least a couple of those on the way home (those were the delightful days when you didn’t have to count carbohydrates or calories) 🙂
We used to get our regular supply of “bakery bread” and “bakery biscuits” from the Iyengar bakery near our campus. These were far superior and tasted much better than packaged bread and biscuits because they were freshly baked every day and very fluffy and delicious. It used to be a wonderful experience to get the warm loaf home and slice it with a special serrated bread knife and stack all the slices into our “bread box”. The most heavenly comfort food I remember from my childhood is having this freshly sliced bakery bread with home-made butter. Home-made butter was available only once a month when all the cream frozen daily in the refrigerator was thawed and made into butter, and then ghee. Most of the butter was converted to ghee, so the fresh butter was a rarity.
We frequented another favorite bakery – “Vijaya Bakery” when we went on our weekly grocery shopping to Jayanagar 4th block, I think it still exists even today. It was special because it used to have mouth-watering doughnuts – both plain and chocolate ones, I could easily devour 3-4 of those at a time.
Used to have a great relationship with the bakers at our favorite bakeries. They always chatted with their regular customers and we exchanged pleasantries whenever we shopped. We also knew their names and some family details and felt very loyal towards them.
However, I also remember feeling very guilty when we shifted our loyalties to a new bakery that popped up next to the old one near home. The new bakery was much bigger, boasted better technology and had a smarter, younger baker who was very chatty, and willing to explain his recipes to customers and let them know why they were superior. He had a greater variety of biscuits that he displayed in an attractive array, they looked so irresistible that we couldn’t help switching. However, we would always take a stealthy glance at the old bakery next to it and feel a pang or two of remorse 🙁 🙁