Monday, April 9, 2007

Brahmin's Coffee Bar

Shankarapuram, Bangalore.

Food : 3/5
Ambience : 1/5
Meal for 2 : Rs 50

See the crowd?

This tiny, unassuming eatout had recently been voted as one of the best idli - coffee joints in Bangalore which invoked our curiosity to check out the place ourselves. But as luck would have it, we would always end up here when it was closed - on Sundays and after 7pm on other days. They are also closed between 11 am to 3pm on all days.
It opens at 6-30 am and by the time we reached the place, around 8 am on a Saturday morning, it was packed, with people spilling over to the road and many families even having their tiffin-giffin in the confines of their cars.

Tiffin thintheera?

The coffee bar serves only 3 items - idli, vada and kesari baath - and of course, coffee and tea. Since this is a 'self-service only' joint, you have to first buy the tokens for your items at the counter near the entrance. Then starts the herculean task of squeezing your way through the crowd milling around. When you finally reach the serving counter, catch your breath, get your snacks on a tray and turn back, you realize that you are now faced with the near impossible task of making your way out of the place without spilling tea or dropping a steaming idli on someone around or worse, yourself!
Once outside, there is an old man standing right near the entrance, pouring chutney for everyone on their plates (a prize for making it out of the place in one piece, perhaps? ;)). Now that the hardships are done with :), its time to happily gorge on the simple but superb food. The idlis are quite fluffy and soft, the vada - crisp and not over done. I'm not a huge fan of kesari bath and Balaji found it was fine but a tad too sweet - too much of pineapple, we guess. There is an unlimited supply of chutney, thanks to the thaatha who happily pours it for all who ask.
Nothing better than a steaming cuppa to end an enjoyable breakfast. The coffee and tea -served in Kerala tea house kind of glasses - are quite good and upto the mark.
This place is definitely worth a try for true blue fans of idli-vada-kaapi. We do not have the exact address or phone number of the place but to get there, take the Bull Temple road from the Gandhi Bazaar side. There is a HOPCOMS and then a Neeladri office on the left. Take the right turn in front of this, go a little ahead and to your right, when you see a place teeming with people, some sipping piping hot coffee and some downing steaming idlis - you'll know you are at the right place!

Did you know.......
.......................that the idli finds mention in the Kannada writings of Shivakotiacharya in 920 AD, and it seems to have started as a dish made only of fermented black lentil? One description circa 1025 A.D. says the lentils were first soaked in buttermilk, and after grinding, seasoned with black pepper, coriander, cumin and asafoetida. The Kannada king and scholar Someshwara III, reigning in the area now called Karnataka, included an idli recipe in his encyclopedia, the Manasollasa, written in Sanskrit ca. 1130 A.D.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Roasted Pepper Prawns with Pasta in Arabiatta Sauce

Healthy food is generally perceived as bland and boring. However, a cookery show where Sanjeev Kapoor was featuring a zero-oil recipe - roasted pepper prawns, caught our attention last week.It seemed so easy to make and looked so good that we tried it out later that week. Paired with pasta, it turned out to be a simple, healthy and fulfilling meal - one that can be cooked when you are pressed for time.

The ingredients for the Roasted Pepper Prawns are:
Jumbo or medium sized prawns, cleaned and deveined 250gms
Tomato sauce 2 tbsps
Mustard sauce/paste 1 tbsp
Chopped garlic 1 tsp
Ginger-garlic paste 2 tsp
Ground black pepper 2 tsp
Broccoli and chopped carrots 1 cup
Lemon juice 1/2 tsp

Few fresh basil leaves (can be substituted with 1/2 tsp of dried basil)
Salt to taste

Ingredients for roasted pepper prawns

Boil the broccoli florets and carrots with very little water in a pressure cooker. Five minutes is enough or else the veggies will end up overcooked and soggy.
Mix the tomato ketchup, ginger garlic paste, mustard paste, cooked carrot and broccoli, prawns, salt and ground black pepper. You can add a little more tomato ketchup if the mixture seems too dry. However, go easy on the mustard paste, since it has an overpowering flavour that can mask the taste of the other ingredients.
Heat a cooking pan and roast the chopped garlic- no oil, remember?- for a minute. Now add the mixture prepared earlier and cook on medium flame for around 8 minutes. Garnish with fresh, torn (this brings out the flavour) basil leaves. Dried basil available in most stores can also be used instead. Add some lemon juice if desired. Serve with pasta cooked as mentioned below.

Roasted Pepper Prawns

Ingredients for Pasta with Arrabiata sauce:
Spaghetti - just enough for 2 (this is usually half of the normal packet size that is available in stores)
Arrabiata Sauce - 3 tbsps
Extra virgin olive oil - 1 tbsps
Dried basil - 1/2 tsp

Dried oregano - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Cook the pasta as per instructions on the pack. Remember not to overcook it; it should be al dente. Make sure you add a couple of drops of olive oil to the boiling water so that the pasta does not turn out sticky. Once cooked, drain and keep aside some of the pasta starch.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a pan. Add the arrabiata sauce and cook on medium heat for a minute. Add 4 tbsps of the pasta starch and cook for another minute. Now add the cooked pasta and dried basil and oregano. Toss till the sauce and pasta get mixed well. Serve hot.

Pasta with arrabiata sauce

The whole meal took about 30 minutes to make but the end result looks like a lot of time has been spent on it - truly gourmet ;). All the items for the recipes are easily available at departmental stores. Jumbo sized or atleast medium sized prawns would be ideal for the roasted pepper prawns though we used small prawns. The recipes given above serve two.

Did you know.......
......................that the arrabiata sauce is called the angry sauce? The word arrabiata is Italian for "in an angry mood", which describes perfectly the spicy, zingy flavor of a good arrabiata sauce.
......................that "spaghetti" is the plural form of the Italian word "spaghetto", which is a diminutive of "spago," meaning "thin string" or "twine"? The word "spaghetti" can be literally translated as "little strings."