Kappu Ice cream


You open my cupboard, you’ll see black clothes. Black shirt, black pant, black jacket, black bra, and all that. You open my shoe cupboard, and it’s the same; black converse, black running shoes, black ballerinas, black kolhapuri; you get the idea. So when I heard that had black ice cream, I had to eat it.

It’s not that I haven’t seen black food, sometimes my friend burns the chappati and it becomes dark brown, almost black. Sometimes you forget about the food you had hid in your bag, one fungus infestation happens and that also becomes green, and then black.

But black ice cream was not rotten food, anthe. Something about charcoal, they said. I’d been reading quite a bit about going zero waste, and charcoal was supposed to be a natural cleaning agent used in tooth paste and stuff. Instead of tooth paste, I could just consume it, an organ version of detox, you could say.

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The first store with this black ice cream to open in Bangalore was Fritz Haber, a place too far and inaccessible to civilization. So I waited, these fads catch on, you know. Soon enough, Mama Mia opened in Indiranagar.

The store was lit dimly, like it was a Hogwarts corridor. It had a brown wall on one side, and white one on the other. The brown wall had some fake plants, and some white and purple pebbles in a Keventers bottle. The white wall said ‘La Dolce Vita’ in cursive, and it was quite catchy. Eno pa.

I knew what I wanted before I even walked in. The extravagant menu on the wall behind the counter made no mention of anything remotely close to the word ‘black’, so I looked through the ice cream storage and found the black ice cream in the furthest corner. ‘Vanilla Startdust’, I think it was called.

Teddy being the thoughtful child that he is; he read my mind and got me the black ice cream in a black cone. Wowzie.

I shut my eyes tight, hoped it would be nice took a leap of faith and gave it a lick. It was sugar. It was just plain sugar syrup, and nothing else. It didn’t even taste like vanilla, da.  Teddy being the whiskey aficionado, heard that some variation of chocolate ice cream was called Whiskey-something took that. Good thing he uses his brain sometimes.

And the black cone? I hoped it would at least be crispy, but no. It was thick and chewy, and faintly tasted like egg. As I finished the last bit of the black chocolate ice cream stuff that I had, I knew that I would retreat back into my rocky road cave, and would never try to be adventurous with my ice cream again.



Rolled Over

I’m not much of an experimenter when it comes to food- my taste buds are particular about certain flavors. You take me to Kamat, I’ll get Jollad Rotti; take me to any Darshini, I’ll get a Rava Idly; take me to a pastry shop, I’ll get pineapple or chocolate; like I said, fixed.

When I went to Roll Over, a new ice cream parlor in the locality, I closed my eyes and picked something chocolate in it- Oreo Overload, and V went with Filter Kapi.

The concept of rolled ice cream was fairly new to V and I. We stood there looking at the guy beating my poor Oreos and ice cream up; he then made up for it by massaging my ice cream very sensually. Next, he patted it to sleep rather smoothly. And then, he scooped it all up, rolling it in the process.

As visually appealing as it looked, I must tell you, I was super disappointed. I loved the crunchiness of the cone. But the ice cream, not so much. Contrary to the name, there was no over load of Oreo at all. Rather, I could see specs of Oreo in my ice cream but taste more of vanilla, and almost nothing of the Oreo. The Filter Kapi, was quite bleak too – with the slightest tinge of coffee flavors. And there were three tiny rolls of ice cream which just got over, with a few minutes. I don’t get these new places and their obsession with serving tiny amounts of ice cream. (Corner House, bless you!).

The ambience of the place was comparatively appealing to V, he seems to like places which are bright and have white lights everywhere. But if you’re a dim place nocturnal creature like me, then here’s another red flag.

Nevertheless, I’m pretty determined to go try more flavors, and maybe change my opinion of this place. But until then, Rocky Road for life!


Bleh. Food.

When we began talking about the food we hated, I couldn’t pick one. I thought I hated avarekal and bisibelle bath equally.

The avarekal season makes the entire family jump with joy. Amma loves avarekal; Appa and I hate it, but Appa is not here, so I’m the ‘onti-pichachi’ in the family that hates it. When the avarekal season began, anyone and everyone who went to the market would bring back these green beans. The whole house would stink of it. Adding to that, newspapers would be filled with articles on different ways avarekal can be used; Food Street would cook up extravagant things with it, and cookery shows would prepare the same old dishes with new names and one extra ingredient.

Ajji, amma and athai would spread the newspaper on the ground and sit around and open the avarekal-thing to get the edible avarekal out. The only fun part about this entire process was when one of the three women would scream seeing a worm. I would walk by slowly, look at the worm, call it cute, pick it up, attempt to drop it on one of them to watch them scream a little more before finally letting it out into the garden. If I wasn’t around, I was pretty sure they would drown these worms in some bowls of water and watch it twist and turn as it died.

But they would never give up, they would make sure everything that they made had avarekal in it. I woke up hungry one day and decided that I liked avarekal. I walked it to the kitchen to find avarekal upma in a hot case. I put some on a plate along with amla pickle and attempted to eat it. I went to the bathroom two minutes later and threw up.

I came back and picked up the plate. I picked out every single bean in the plate and ate the upma. It tasted good- delicious even. So now, every time they make avarekal-saaru or upma at home and serve it to me, my plate goes back to the kitchen with a large pile of avarekal in it. Amma seems to be okay with this setting; at least she doesn’t have to cook for me separately. If I ever bite into even one of these beans, I’m pretty sure I would go running back to the bathroom.

I couldn’t decide if I hated avarekal more bisebelle bath. After a silent debate that lasted for n-seconds I picked bisebelle bath and announced to the class that I hated it.

“How can you hate bisebelle bath?!” they all said.

“You fake-kannadiga!” someone exclaimed later.

When Ajji would begin making bisebelle bath I would stop talking to everyone in the house unless they made something else for me to eat. Apparently Ajji’s bisibelle bath was the best in the entire family- even her neighbours from Arkalgud (her native which she hasn’t gone back to in 40 years) came by someday to eat it.

Brahmin weddings usually see a lot of bisibelle bath. I had always managed to avoid it, everyone in the family knew that the only thing I ate would be pineapple-gojju and rice, along with the salads or curd rice. They would tease me when they realised bisebelle bath was on the menu, “Palara evatthu”, they would say. I had managed just fine for twenty years, I hadn’t eaten it more than twice.

It was A’s Ammi’s birthday. I went over to wish her. You have to have lunch, she insisted. And I agreed, she made the best puliyogre and akki rotti I had ever eaten. I knew for a fact that A hated bisibelle bath as much as I did. His Ammi knew it too. You have to eat she insisted, and kept a plate of bisibelle bath in front of me. Here, eat it with the mixture, she said as she placed a cup with mixture from their bakery (I presume).

The A who would normally be all over me if we were in a cafe, sat two chairs away from me on his dining table. He bought out a little bowl with mixture and sat there crunching it, smiling at me when his Ammi wasn’t looking.

I looked at A and demanded to know where his plate was. “Don’t you know how much I hate it? You eat.” he said. He’d set me up, that piece of shit. A’s Ammi sat on the other side of the table and began talking to A and me about things that I don’t remember. She didn’t eat; she only ate after her husband did. So they just sat there and watched me eat.

I sat there for the next fifteen minutes gulping down bisibelle bath without tasting it or looking up from the plate. Thankfully, I’d never eaten food the way normal kids do. I’d always gulped it down so I could run back and play with the friends. I remember emptying two bottles of water along with the plate of bisibelle bath. I tried not to cry as I ate this. After I finished the plate I walked into the kitchen, A behind me. He gave me another bottle of water before I left for my place. A and I didn’t see each other for a while after that.

Lokaruchi, indeed.

We went to Mysore almost twice or thrice each year, after a stop at Maddur to eat the Maddur vadas and sip on some well-made south-Indian filter coffee, we would make our way to Bangalore. But this stop wasn’t the only one we’d make. Giving into my tantrums, it was now a family ritual to halt at Kamat Lokaruchi for dinner every time we came back that way.

Located in Ramanagara on the Bangalore-Mysore Highway, this place wasn’t your average highway Dhaba. It was a part small part of the Janapada Loka which included a folk museum which hosted an occasional play or two, and was home to little shops where artisans sold local handicrafts and of course, had an authentic garden restaurant. Due to our late night drive-ins I’d never witnessed any plays, and the only shops that were open the ones that sold jute handicrafts and bags, and the two on the outer edge of the restaurant that sold the colourful Channapatna toys.

The restaurant, over the years, had stuck to its village like ambience, justifying its name Lokaruchi which means ‘Ethnic taste’. Walking in, the place was dimly-lit. The kitchen was visible and not hidden away like most restaurants, and was bordered by the tables where we would be served. This narrow corridor had fading grey stone pillars and a stone floor, with a view of the garden and a pond that was always dry. The other side had the view to the children’s park where I used to play when I was younger, but we hardly ever sat that side. By some stroke of luck, we always sat on the side which opened to the view of the empty pond and exposed us to mosquitoes.

The kitchen was orange with swirls of Worli art painted all over it. Clusters of onions and garlic hung from the ceiling like they were meant to be a very village way of decorating a place. I wondered if they were changed from time to time or it they remained there till they turned stale. Though I remember that shoots spring from onions left unattended for a long time, I can’t remember if old onions began to ever stink.

When I was younger, I would only eat the Jollad rotti on their white plate with the cube of butter that resembled perfectly cut sugar cubes. As I grew older, I began eating it on the banana leaf as it was originally served. I realised that white plate was a privilege only children had, as adults you had to buy the Jollad rotti meals, whether you ate all of it or only the Jollad rotti.

The Jollad rotti would be served with the kosumbris (which were south-indian salads), papad with methi leaves and onion shoots, and two kinds of curries- one made of brinjal called Yengai, and the other made of horse gram. Though Jollad rotti is suppose to be eaten with Yengai, I preferred the horse-gram curry along with the raw methi leaves and onion shoots. The taste is heavenly, I kid you not. I once tried to eat it the Jollad rotti with Paneer Butter Masala at Kamat Bugel Rock, it is not a functional combination; it makes you regret it the moment it lands on your taste buds.

For a long time I refused to go to Kamat Bugel Rock, I was scared that since it was inside the city it’s Jollad rotti woud not taste as good and that would end up ruining my liking for Jollad rotti altogether. But I went there eventually and the first two floors were like any average North-Indian middle class restaurant around Bangalore and that put me off, but that was momentary. The third floor, or the terrace dinning added its own touch to the place. It had a stage in the centre where Carnatic performances would happen and tables on the other three sides. I liked the place more when the performances were not happening. Something about that empty stage felt serene.

Just when you had stuffed yourself with enough Jollad rottis, the servers would always bring steel bowls filled to the brim with rice, but I’d always be too full to eat it, so I’d just accept the spicy-butter milk and the pan. I’d ask for more pan and the servers would glare at me before bringing some.

But Bugle rock wasn’t Lokaruchi, it didn’t have the cow shed. While in Lokaruchi I would walk to the sink a million times, the sink was opposite the cow shed and I went there just to see he cows. I’d only seen cows on roads, cows trying to get into my gate to eat the plants in the garden but never had I seen cows in cow sheds. The dimly lit shed, and the cows just basking there was something completely new to me.

But the Jollad rotti tasted the same no matter where we went. The food tastes a world better if you enjoy the place that you’re in, and for me it’s always the garden restaurants that do the trick. When I was at Krishna Grand, a place Amma’s friends had over-enthusiastically recommended, the entire experience of eating was lost. The place was far too crowd and loud, with people chattering and not music, which made it feel like we were just eating for the heck of it but it didn’t make much of an impact enough to go back there.

But at a place like Ambara, no matter how small the portion that was served was, I still remember the taste of the tacos and the salsa at the tip of my tongue. Its stripped pink table mat along with its fifty year old cane chairs make the memory of the place more profound and vivid. Kamat was much the same, it made sure you remember the taste of its food and took back memories of its taste, that’s what was special about the Kamats.