Simply South Indian Quirks

First things first—not all South Indians are ‘madrasisʼ. Shocking as it might be, turns out the South of the freakinʼ Indian subcontinent isnʼt made up of one kind of people.
Also, no such thing as ‘madrasisʼ. There is a place called Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, formerly known as Madras. People tracing their roots back to this part of the south are called Tamilians. Got it? Good.

And then there are Kerala, Hyderabad (and now Telangana State), Karnataka, all states of South India. (Plus, the Union Territories, but no one cares about those except when theyʼre planning vacations. Love you PondiLakshwadeepAndamanAndNicobar!)

Now that weʼve cleared that up, letʼs jump right in. (Also, disclaimer that stereotypes are just for funsies, donʼt be one waste fellow and get offended.)

Kerala

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It is rumoured that Malayalis have a secret radar that helps them seek other Malayalis out. And once they find that other mallu, theyʼre unstoppable.
The mode of communication will instantly switch to Malayalam, which will then instantly attract anything between 10-50 other Malayalis.

Theyʼre proud of their people.

Youʼll be hard pressed to find a group of people who show up in huge numbers to support their statesmen like the Malayalis do—just go to any Thaikkudum Bridge concert and youʼll know what weʼre talking about.
Of course, when a state is called ‘Godʼs Own Countryʼ (rightly so), you know that its people are going to be the proud kind. Plus, their sex ratio tips in favour of women (1058 females for every 1000 males), which is automatically a win. And as important as the ratio, they also have beef fry.

You wonʼt find a group of people who consume more rum in one sitting (maybe the fact that they have to source it from tiny liquor stores where everyone from their uncle to their uncleʼs wifeʼs auntʼs husband will be standing in line, has something to do with it). You also probably wonʼt find people who can talk about local politics, film, and philosophy more heatedly, and suddenly break into mallu songs and hug each other in the same breath.

The only other thing that theyʼre this nostalgic about is growing up in the Middle East. Appams and Milo forever!

Random words to shout around Mallus to make them happy:

Cheta, Chechi, Old Monk, Appam, Kuwait, Dubai, Avial.

Karnataka

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Nothing makes Kannadigas happier than people attempting to learn Kannada.

Truly, it doesnʼt matter how bad you are, or how much youʼre butchering the language as you attempt to learn—just the fact that youʼre trying will have everyone from your Kannadiga friendʼs parents to the auto driver who took you to their house, glowing at you and praising your attempt. Of course, the effect is exactly the opposite for anyone who refers to the language as ‘Kannadʼ. We donʼt even recommend you try it.

Youʼll find the people of this state planning extensive road-trips.
For history and cultural vibes you have Hampi (also for organic vibes).
For nature and wildlife, thereʼs Kabini and Bandipur.
To live out your hippie fantasies, thereʼs Gokarna.
For still more beaches, slamming seafood, and Pabbaʼs, thereʼs Mangalore. (Fun fact:
Mangaloreans have a moral duty to mention Pabbaʼs every time the topic of ice creams comes up. Try it and see.)
For the pandi curry, the sprawling estates, and all the good things that come with hill stations, thereʼs Coorg. (But do we really need any more reasons than pandi curry?)
For a perfect example of city planning and crying over what Bangalore could have been, thereʼs Mysore. (Also an excuse to eat at Shivaji Military Hotel.)
And of course Bangalore, to go drinking at brewpubs (cough) and complain about how long it took you to get there.

These days youʼll find Bangaloreans aggressively defending the weather. ("it might not be the same as when I was a kid, but itʼs still better than other states ok?")
Theyʼll also be the first ones to make a drinking plan, the ones who have trouble choosing between the only three activities you can do in Bangalore—watch a movie, watch a music show, go bowling, the ones still not used to the fact that pubs are now open beyond 11_30pm, and the ones who somehow always end up at Empire or Imperial for dinner after.

Random words to shout around Kannadigas to make them happy:

Bob, Magga, OC, Pecos, traffic illa, meter.

Tamil Nadu

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Their ultimate, forever-bragging rights rest in the fact that the ultimate Superstar Rajni, a veritable god of the 70mm and beyond, calls Chennai home. All discussions and debates should ideally end there.
But weʼll continue for the sake of jolly, and Mango Dolly.

All Tamilians are born with the innate ability to gauge the exact fluffiness of idlis, and the perfect ratio of milk to decoction in filter coffee. Some gifted fellows can tell by just looking, no need to taste and all. And theyʼll never waste a chance to turn their cultured noses up at your feeble attempts at matching Madras Filter Coffee standards.

(Rumour has it that rigorous training by their paatis from an early age is the cause for this.)

Take a Tamilian out of Tamil Nadu, sure. But you canʼt take the...well, you know how it goes. Precisely why no matter where they are, (Chennai, Delhi, or Silicon Valley), theyʼll somehow manage to watch every Rajni movie first day-first show, have no conflict in openly supporting Chennai Super Kings regardless of the fact that they havenʼt lived in Tamil Nadu since before the IPL began, and try to convince you how Dhoni is actually Tamilian, no matter that heʼs really from Ranchi. (But really, heʼs Tamilian, ok?!)

When they get a little tired of finding ways to source some solid alcohol, because it is a bit of a task there, they usually just jump into a car and drive to the ‘Luru for some good quality beer. (And weʼre happy to have them.)

Random words to shout around Tamilians to make them happy:

Rajni, Superstar Rajni, Thalaivar, Baba, Padayappa, Kanchipuram saree.

Andhra Pradesh/ Telangana State

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If youʼre unsure about whether someone is from Hyderabad or not, the easiest way to find out is by listening—at some point during the conversation theyʼll brag about how the biryani they had at some place was rubbish compared to the biryani back home. And in that instant, you will know. (That, or just look for the ladissss glittering from head to toe in opulent sarees and even more extraordinary jewellery at weddings.)

But biryani isnʼt the only thing they talk about. The peeps of AP and T love their food, and this pride is not misplaced—there is a whole bunch of fantastic food on offer here, and only a fool
would restrict it to biryani.

By all means, come for the biryani, stay for the double-ka-meetha.
The other thing they love talking about is how the weather is now as pleasant as (if not more) than Bangalore. A miracle of nature that seems to take place only when theyʼre there, and never when someone from Bangalore visits.

They also wax eloquent about their superior infrastructure, but youʼve got to give them that—the roads are a treat for any driving enthusiast. Probably also why youʼll suddenly be shocked by some fancy sports car zipping past you. Theyʼll surprise you with the ease with which they can start a sentence in English, switch to Telugu, and somehow end it with Hyderabadi Hindi.

Itʼs a linguistic marvel. And possessed only by the people of this state.

Random words to shout around AP & T peeps to make them happy:

Haleem, biryani, “weather is better than Bangalore, ra", potta, potti.

Although if you ask us, and we admit we might be a tad bit biased, the best way to truly and easily gauge the sheer diversity of the southern part of the subcontinent is by sampling the cuisine.

Thatʼs why the menu at The Permit Room is curated as an attempt to represent South-Indiaʼs diverse, centuries-old culinary heritage, with a bit of a quirky, eclectic twist which pays homage to the now pop-culture status that all things from the subcontinent now enjoy.

The only proper way of doing this is by really actually getting into the details of the seemingly endless dishes.
After all, itʼs the evolution, history, geography, and quirks of a culture, all served on n a platter.

Yum.

Images courtesy: 123rf.com, shutter stock.com, fototalia.com

The Very Chilli Chicken

Few snacks make for the perfect starter, drink accompaniment, and general side dish, the way Chilli Chicken does.

Not to be confused by its Indo-Chinese counterpart, we’re talking about the Andhra style Chilli Chicken here, because South Indian cuisine and all that.

But we couldn’t talk about this dish without paying homage to its Indo-Chinese cousin, born from blurring of borders and migration of cultures, a legendary dish in its own right.

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You may now continue.

What makes this dish such a beloved accompaniment with everything from a Single Malt to a biryani?

Perhaps the spice, that adds some much needed flavour to your palette. 

Or maybe the greasy, tangy nature of it immediately develops associations with comfort food of some sort.

But perhaps it just has some mysterious appeal that develops with combining everything from the spice, the flavour, and the texture, that’ll make you go for seconds even if your mouth feels like its on fire.

(No jokes, we’ve seen people ordering additional portions while reaching for tissues to wipe their chilli-induced tears.)
Of course, depending on where you’re consuming the dish, you’ll find that while the essence remains the same, the preparation and presentation may sometimes vary.


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Some places serve it slightly dry, probably best suited for a drink. (Or 50,000 once the chilli hits you.)

But you also have versions that have a slight gravy, usually swimming with ominous looking chilli seeds that you’d do well not to underestimate. 

As much fun as consuming the meat, the chicken part of the dish is, no one would judge you if you decided to scoop up the leftover gravy in a naan or bread, and wipe the plate clean.

Some places pride themselves on just how spicy their version of the Chilli Chicken can get, because, "no guts or what?!"

Those things can get unnecessarily spicy and become more of a challenge than a dish really, but each to their own. (which is why, at The Permit Room, we give you options, based on how rowdy you’re feeling.)

When done right, the spice actually perfectly offsets the blandness of the chicken and makes for a rather addictive flavour.

Don’t take our word for it, though. Try it yourself, but make sure you have something cold or sweet handy. (Umm, taken a look at our drinks and dessert menu yet?)

The Great South Indian Love Affair

South-Indians and their rice.

It’s a love story that pre-dates any other love story you’ve ever heard.
You can take a South-Indian out of South-India, but you can’t take the rice out of their tiffin carrier. (Their mothers will make sure of it!)

People may say that the climatic conditions of the south of the country contributed to rice becoming a staple part of the diet, and they wouldn’t be wrong.
But that’s just geography and facts.

The relationship between a South-Indian and their rice is so much more than that—it’s emotional.

That’s why so many South-Indian dishes are made with rice as the central theme.

What else are you supposed to consume the 20,000 varieties of rasam and 15,000 varieties of sambaar with? Not to mention the pappu, khozumbus, and various thokkus/thogayals and other such rice-love affirming treats.

And hello, exactly what else do you think you were going to crush that poppadom on?

Then there’s rice itself. You know it’s love when you’ve invented different versions of rice to consume, just so that you can feel like you’re consuming different-different dishes while staying true to your one and only.

That’s why apart from the curry-aided versions, you also

have pongal, bisibele bath, lemon rice, tomato rice, tamarind rice, coconut rice, mango rice, and (our favourite even though we’re not supposed to have favourites but we do) biriyani!

Honestly, pretty much any ingredient you can think of, there is bound to be some version of a rice dish of it.

It’s no joke—South-Indians love rice so much, they’ve gone and made rice dishes for different meals of the day, so that you have an excuse to have rice for all three meals plus tiffin. (Like you needed an excuse! Poda!)

Think about it though:
Breakfast—everything from pongal and bisibelebath, to chitranna and rice bath.
Lunch—steamed rice/ghee rice/pulao/(insert random vegetable/ingredient) rice, and 50,000 curries as options,

and curd rice/mosranna for lining the tummy. Tiffin/Evening Snack—usually the same as breakfast items.
Dinner— same as lunch.

And then there’s biriyani, which you can have for all three meals, as far as we’re concerned. (YES, breakfast too!)

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But we really weren’t kidding when we said the love for rice wasn’t a joking matter in the south.
If they’re not consuming it in its ‘pure’ form, South- Indians have found ways to disguise their rice consumption, so that they don’t seem like complete starch psychos.

Enter idli, dosa, neer dosa, sannas, appams, iddiyappams, and all the other rice-batter beauties. We could go on and on about these rice-origin dishes too, but let’s switch back to the pure form for now. (The purest form of rice-joy, of course, being biriyani.)

At this point, we feel obliged to explain our shameless (but loving) biriyani plugs throughout. All this talk about rice got us excited about The Permit Room’s version of the classic Nalli Biriyani.

Our version is a slow-cooked spicy lamb shank biriyani, layered with a short-grain aromatic rice, and served with the ever-essential accompaniment, onion raita.
If the meat doesn’t fall off the bone, and the fragrance of the rice doesn’t make you cry happy tears, we’ll change our name. That’s a promise.

Seriously though, ask a South-Indian to recall the earliest sounds they remember.
It’ll probably be suprabathams, Subbalakshmi, and steam escaping from a pressure cooker.

So, what is it about rice that makes it such a celebrated and integral part of South-Indian cuisine?
Maybe it’s the geography, maybe it’s the sheer variety of rice dishes, maybe it’s the marvellous way in which a seemingly tasteless dish can instantly transform the flavour of another, maybe it’s the memory of the first meal your mother/father/ajji/ajja fed you. Or maybe it’s all of these things combined.

Like we said at the start, in the southern part of the

subcontinent, rice is an emotion.

Chocolate Achappam

There are few things that can instantly make you nostalgic about the holiday season the way Rose Cookies do. Or Achappams as our mallu friends call them.
Typical but not restricted to Anglo-Indian households, they usually herald the coming of Santa Claus and good times.

Rumour has it that you can hear Neil Diamond singing every time a rose cookie is made.

Rumour has it that you can hear Neil Diamond singing every time a rose cookie is made.

The title of Achappam in Kerala comes from the word ‘achu’ which basically means to mould.  Another typical treat in Indian Christian homes are Rose cookies. 

That’s because rose cookies are traditionally made by dipping a flower-shaped mould into batter, which is then delicately dunked into hot oil, resulting in the subtle-ly flavoured, crunchy goodness that is Achappams

The moulds used to make them are usually in generic flower shapes, but people get creative and you get all sorts. The puritans (like us) will stick to the standard ‘rose’ mould. 

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The cookie aspect of this particular confection comes primarily from its sweet, biscuity form. And there’s variety too. Some cookies have sesame seeds in them for example, adding another subtle flavour to the mix.  

Or then there are those made in The Permit Room, that are dipped in Belgian chocolate and served with a fruit and nut terrine, with jaggery coconut roundels. Go big or go home, right?

Honestly though, they’re almost like a walk down memory lane for us, harking back to the simpler and (indulge us) sweeter traditions of the season. Just, with a little added fanciness. 

Karma On The Beach

If you thought our cuisine was diverse, then you’ll be as surprised with our drinking habits. Whether we ‘put one small’ or grab a tall, be rest assured that Indian drinking habits are just as curious and varied as our cuisine fixations.

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That’s why you’ll find that fellow who drinks two beers everyday with one plate of peanut masala with half a lime sprinkled on top, or the other macchi who insists on having her 60 of Rum and Coke, with some pickle for ‘touchings.’

Celebrating the delightfully unique drinking culture of the south, are our quirky TPR Cocktails. It’s everything traditionally popular, but with a twist.

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This time, Karma On The Beach. 

Because we could all use some karmic soul searching. But mainly because this drink is just so damn good.

Yes, it doesn’t sound as wild as it’s ‘sexy’ cocktail cousin of the almost-same name, but don’t write it off just yet.

Because really, nothing says sexy more than the combination of Guava Juice, Lime Juice, Coconut Syrup and White Rum. Topped off with a sprig of mint of course, because mint equals good breath, and good breath is sexy. Erm. Yes.

Plus, the way we prepare it, shaken not stirred, and served in a Martini glass, gives you just the excuse you need to make like Bond by the beach. (we’d recommend spending a considerable amount of time in the gym before emerging from beach waters in a blue bathing suit, though. But you do you.)

We’re divided on whether it’s the Coconut Syrup or the White Rum that might have something to do with making you all woozy and thinking about things like karma and the meaning of life. Maybe come by, try the drink, and help us decide?  

It’s all good karma, we promise.

Rum Pazam Pori

If you thought our cuisine was diverse, then you’ll be as surprised with our drinking habits. Whether we ‘put one small’ or grab a tall, be rest assured that Indian drinking habits are just as curious and varied as our cuisine fixations.

That’s why you’ll find that fellow who drinks two beers everyday with one plate of peanut masala with half a lime sprinkled on top, or the other macchi who insists on having her 60 of Rum and Coke, with some pickle for ‘touchings.’

Celebrating the delightfully unique drinking culture of the south, are our quirky TPR Cocktails. It’s everything traditionally popular, but with a twist.

And what could be the only thing better roadside sweet meats? A cocktail based on said sweet meats, which we present in the form of the Rum Pazam Pori.

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But what in the rum blazes is a Pazam Pori, you might ask? Well, we’ll tell you.

what you need to know right up front, is that the spelling might be a little misleading to those unfamiliar.

You see, the ‘Z’ in Pazam is meant to be the closest representative of a sound you find in Tamil (actually, Tamiz) and Malayalam of a sort of ‘L’ sound, which doesn’t really have an English equivalent. ( How’s that for some South-Indian bragging rights?!)

The ‘Z’ in the spelling is basically your cue to twist your tongue and attempt to make that L-but- quite-L-sound without sounding like a complete fool, which is rarely achieved by anyone who isn’t a native speaker of Tamil or Malayalam. But no harm in trying. (Just send us a video when you do, thanks!)

As to what Pazam Pori is, well, to put it quite simply, are South-Indian Banana Fritters.

This beloved snack that hails from Karnataka, is nothing but ripened banana and maida, that is fried to perfection to provide little snacks of joy to children and adults alike. As it shall continue to do until the end of time. Or end of maida. Whichever comes first.

But wasn’t this supposed to be a cocktail, you must be wondering at this point.

Which brings us to the only form of the Pazam Pori that dare we say, is possibly as joyful to consume, if not more—with Rum!

Our version isn’t quite in the fried form, but it has all the essentials—fresh banana, cardamom, clove, a splash of lime, a dash of sugar, and to top it all off, white rum.

Could we have possibly replicated the Pazam Pori joy in drink form? Might this be the most soul- satisfying cocktail ever created? Will many sips of this transport you back to your childhood memories and the joy of eating freshly made pazam pori lovingly made by your ammama? Will the memory make you cry?

We can’t say with certainty. You’ll just have to come by and try this one yourself.

Fish Polichatthu

THERE ISN’T A PALATE MORE DIVERSE THAN AN INDIAN ONE. AND YOU’D BE HARD PRESSED TO FIND THAT KIND OF VARIETY FROM JUST A SINGLE SECTION OF THE COUNTRY ANYWHERE ELSE.

One of the earnest ideas behind The Permit Room is to introduce people to the sheer variety of traditional South Indian cuisine, but with a modern-day take on it.

Essentially it's recipes from your ajji's (Kannada for grandma) kitchen, but served in a rather modern, and also cocktail-friendly form. Your ajji may or may not approve.

We have four new glorious additions to our Menu, and we’re rather excited for you to try them

This time, the Fish Polichatthu.

The shortened version of it is that this dish is a toddy shop recipe of brown grouper fish in spicy coconut, mango and green chilli masala, baked in a banana leaf. Let’s break that down now.

First up, Toddy Shop.

But before that, toddy.

‘Toddy’ is a British-coined term that refers to kallu, a liquid made from tapping the sap of a coconut or palm tree.

Right out of the sap, toddy isn’t even an alcoholic drink. It’s actually quite sweet. But as it sits in the hollowed bamboo jugs that it is traditionally stored in, it turns into a pretty formidable alcoholic beverage. Sometimes within a matter of hours.

Which then brings us to Toddy Shops, that are essentially small restaurants, usually run by a family, in which the region’s local liquor is sold, such as and for example, toddy. And they’ve got an almost poetic presence in South-Indian pop culture.

Unwrap the many layers of this gorgeous fish dish.

Unwrap the many layers of this gorgeous fish dish.

They were originally just meant to be shops where people could come get an afternoon drink, but over time have evolved into full blown kitchens as well. To the point that toddy shop food has become a type of sub-cuisine in itself. Usually made from local ingredients and terribly spicy, to add complement your toddy and sort of balance the strong toddy flavour.

Next part, Grouper Fish.

Grouper is a large-mouthed heavy-bodied fish of the Serranidae family. They’re widely found in warm seas and are usually dully coloured in greens or browns, but a number are brighter, more boldly patterned fishes.

Ours is the brown kind, but ain’t nothing dull about it.

Spicy Coconut

The ultimate South-Indian garnish, and nothing says it better than this really.

Really, you sprinkle coconut shavings on something and it automatically has South-Indian street cred.

Try it. Take some coconut shavings, sprinkle it on whatever is near you, and tell us whether it magically doesn’t seem more South-Indian somehow.

Mango

Mango makes everything better, plain and simple. So that’s that.

Green Chilli Masala

Because what’s life without a little spice, and other cringe-inducing quotes like that?

Banana Leaf

This is the ultimate South-Indian wrapping paper for anything, that instantly adds a quaint touch but also plays the dual role of adding flavour to the dish.

Nothing says South-Indian like something wrapped in a banana leaf. (Apart from coconut shavings. Tied for first place.)

But now you know the whole thought and sentiment that went into this dish. Which must instantly make it irresistible to you. And if it doesn’t, just quickly sprinkle some coconut shavings.

Say Hello To Chef Vipin

When did you first join the Permit Room?

I have been here from before the opening.

I had sent my resume and they selected me. It was a trial period, before the opening. 
When I got the offer, I felt it was a very good opportunity for me, because they were doing something very different.

So I did the trial and joined because I felt this was a good call for my career.

What were you doing before that?

I have been in this field for the last twelve years, and for a decade before I joined Permit Room.
I was in Dubai for all those years, and then I came back to my hometown and was looking for opportunities.
I didn’t want to go back to Dubai, and wanted something specifically in South India, because it’s close to home.

I did my trials in Toit, and then I shifted to Permit Room.

Since you’ve always been a part of the industry, what made you shift from Dubai to India after all these years?

Basically, it was for my family. My sister got married and my parents were alone at home. I didn’t want to leave them alone.

Because I was in Dubai, it was difficult to keep travelling back and forth. In case something happened, I wanted to be close by so that I can go anytime. That was the main issue.

Right now I’m just four hours away from home. And who will ever say no to work in Bangalore?

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Have you always been passionate about cooking?

From childhood, I used to cook with my mom. And after I completed my degree, I felt the need to pursue this line. So I joined a culinary school and I completed my Bachelor’s degree in Hotel Management.

After that I worked in some parts of Kerala and then I moved to Dubai. And from there, I came here.

I always knew I wanted to work with food, and I always wanted to create something good. That is what I am doing now.

Do you remember what the first thing you cooked with your mother was?

Dosa!

My mother was my first teacher, she is a brilliant cook!

That’s the thing I enjoy most about working in Permit Room. I can work with my mom’s recipes and also present it in a different way. That’s why I feel like I’m coming in my home when I’m cooking here. It’s my safe zone and I really enjoy it.

Were you ever nervous before the opening whether the unique approach that Permit Room has to South Indian food would work?

I was never nervous, but I was very excited. I used to cook other cuisines before, but there is nothing like cooking my home food at the restaurant level.

I knew it was going to work, because it was South Indian home food being served with a twist, presented in a unique way.

You’ve been here for two years, and there have been so many additions to the menu and special menus since then. What is the thought process that goes into creating dishes like these?

See, actually when I got to know what the theme of the restaurant was going to be, I started researching and called a lot of my friends. I collected ideas and also came up with my own ideas of how South Indian food can be presented in a different way.

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Some idea or the other will come to my mind, and I will do a few trials. Only after that will I present it to Kavan. (Chief Culinary Coordinator at Permit Room and Toit.)

After that we present it to the Directors, and once everyone approves it, we start working on it as a dish for the restaurant.

How do you overcome creative blocks? Especially when some dishes are approved and some are not.

I keep thinking about food. If something is not working, then we dig into that to rectify the problem. Whether it is something that needs to be replaced or changed.
We also try to inculcate ideas from other cuisines.



The only way of overcoming creative blocks is by keeping on researching and trying new combinations. It is so much of fun!

Since coming up with these dishes is such a labour of love, you’re bound to be attached to them. How do you handle it then when you get negative feedback on them?

We have to accept feedback. My palette and your palette might be different, and I will serve something I love to you.
But my job is to make the customer happy, so if people say something is not good, then I accept it and try to make it better.

Is that easy to accept?

At one point, it was not. But I learnt to, because it is a part of the job. I take suggestions from other people, from Kavan, the Directors, the service people, whoever is tasting the food. And based on what they say, I put it all together and come up with something new and improved.

In the 12 years that you’ve been in the kitchen, is there any particular incident that comes to mind? A disaster or crisis situation?

No memory like that stands out, but I remember when we were trying to come up with vegetarian starters and we had a lot of restrictions. Like it couldn’t be fried, or it couldn’t be certain vegetables because we already had them in our menu.


I felt like I was in a box. I tried something with mushrooms, but it turned out to be disaster. Kavan literally spit it out. I was like “Wow, how did I end up doing this?”

At that moment I felt bad, but when I think about it now, it’s very funny.


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Tell us something we don’t know about Chef Kavan.

Kavan is my good friend, more than my senior Chef. He will support you, no matter what. He will be there for you, if I do something wrong or something doesn’t go according to plan. He always tries and protects me, and motivates me to move on.

It’s very encouraging, his support.

Can you give us a less politically correct answer now?



*laughs* There is seriously nothing negative to say about him. The only thing I can think of is that whenever I talk to him, he will be on his phone. But don’t put that, I don’t want him to feel bad.

The success that Permit Room has seen must make you happy!



More than happy, it makes me proud. Because people are liking my food. And because of that, I have more of a responsibility. Once you set the standard high, you can have to keep pushing it higher and higher. And you need to think more creatively. It is seriously a challenge!

See, our theme is South Indian food and we need keep reinventing that.

When you’re not cooking, is there a hobby you enjoy doing in your free time?

I like to ride my motorbike. I have a Himalayan Royal Enfield, and I like to do trips on that.

I recently rode to Goa with my friends, for a three-days trip, and that was a lot of fun.

I frequently ride to my hometown in Kerala as well, because I really enjoy it.

Finally, if I had to ask you to pick your favourite and least favourite dish from the menu, what would they be?

See, if you ask me my favourite dish, it’s hard to pick just one. But if you’re really pushing me to name just one, I will always say it’s the Kerala Beef Fry, which I love to eat as well.

My least favourite dish would be a vegetarian dish I guess, maybe the Okra Podi Chips. The dish is great, but I’m not a fan of Okra in general. So maybe that, if I’m being forced to pick one.

What are you excited about for the future of Permit Room?

More and more people are hearing about Permit Room everyday, so we have to think about introducing new things.

I am personally excited about working on the Onam Sadhya again, because we got a very good response to that last time.

There is always something happening here, and something new to work towards.

The Lean Green Mango Machine

If you thought our cuisine was diverse, then you’ll be as surprised with our drinking habits. Whether we ‘put one small’ or grab a tall, be rest assured that Indian drinking habits are just as curious and varied as our cuisine fixations.

That’s why you’ll find that fellow who drinks two beers everyday with one plate of peanut masala with half a lime sprinkled on top, or the other macchi who insists on having her 60 of Rum and Coke, with some pickle for ‘touchings.’

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Celebrating the delightfully unique drinking culture of the south, are our quirky TPR Cocktails. It’s everything traditionally popular, but with a twist.

For all those missing some maanga in their lives, we have the Lean Green Mango Machine.

There is no such thing as too much mango, and if anyone says so, immediately stop being their friend. Like, right now.

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This pretty cocktail of ours comes with fresh green Mango. And Mango bombs, which if you haven’t tried before, are the most delightful things ever.

As the name suggests, the little pellets pop in your mouth with a burst of mango flavour. Serve them on some crushed ice for fancy feels, and you’re set.

But why stop there?! Because the only thing better than one fruit is…well…two.

And sure enough, our cocktail also has not one, but two fruits in it.

We use the term ‘fruit’ loosely here, because what we are talking about is in fact Green Apple Vodka. Heh. And who’s complaining, right?!

Because a dash (or considerably more) of some alcohol instantly makes everything better.

Add to that the fizz of some soda, and you have a strong contender for what might just end up being the most fun cocktail you’ve tried in a while.

Don’t believe us? Well, there’s only one way to prove that one.

Pandi Curry

The new Pandi curry at The Permit Room is very simply mamma’s recipe for the traditional Kodava pork (pandi) curry. 
When we say mamma, we mean a rather special little recipe passed on to our Chef Kavan, from his mamma, who in turn got the recipe from her mamma.

The origins of this dish are probably as old as the community itself, initially made of wild boar that was hunted, rather than the pork version that is the better known version now.

Every Kodava household has their own version of the pork curry. The variations are small ones, based more on preference that any deliberate attempt to change the dish.


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Some houses like to throw in a little more of the chilli, while other houses focus more on the rest of the spices.
Then there are the ones who like it with a little more gravy, and others who like it as a dry dish.

Our Chef Says: “In our house, the variation is in the form of a five spice mixture. And within that also, there is a variation in the way my mother and grandmother prepare it.
 My grandma grinds the spices per batch of the curry that she makes, but my mother prefers to grind a portion that will last her for at least a few batches of the curry.”

One of the reasons this is such a staple dish in Kodava households might also have something do with the fact that it is regularly served during their festivals.

In Coorg, there is a special little chilly called the parangi malu, which while tiny in size, packs a real punch. The flavour profile is completely different, and this makes it an especially popular dish during festivals.

So it’s a little different when you eat it in Coorg, and a little different when you eat it anywhere outside. But that’s a given.

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The South-Indian menu at The Permit Room seemed incomplete without a version of this dish, especially given the cultural roots of our Chef. We’ve modified the recipe to suit a restaurant setting, but stayed true to the classic style, serving it with some very best Akki rotis.

Chef Kavan knew he had to have it on the menu once he’d tasted his mother’s version of it.
“For the longest time, we didn’t make this at home. Until one day my father and I decided we wanted to have a good pork curry at home. And once I tasted my mom’s version of it, it automatically became my favourite, go-to dish. Comfort food, this.”

The Ginchax

If you thought our cuisine was diverse, then you’ll be as surprised with our drinking habits. Whether we ‘put one small’ or grab a tall, be rest assured that Indian drinking habits are just as curious and varied as our cuisine fixations.

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That’s why you’ll find that fellow who drinks two beers everyday with one plate of peanut masala with half a lime sprinkled on top, or the other macchi who insists on having her 60 of Rum and Coke, with some pickle for ‘touchings.’

Celebrating the delightfully unique drinking culture of the south, are our quirky TPR Cocktails. It’s everything traditionally popular, but with a twist.

This time, the Ginchax.

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If you’ve been to a brunch or two in the recent past (we host a great one here at The Permit Room, just saying), you’ve definitely seen Gin cocktails doing the rounds.

There’s something versatile about Gin that way—it seems like the perfect kind of alcohol that you can make a refreshing day-time drink out of, but also packs enough of a punch as a base for a slightly more adventurous partaaayy-drink.

Whether you enjoy it with tonic water, or some added flavours, Gin based cocktails have become the go-to drink for drinkers of all kinds.
And so we decided to take a stab at a brand new Gin-based cocktail in the form of our Ginchax.

Think of three of the most refreshing flavours and we added all of those to it—there’s cucumber juice, the citrusy goodness of orange wedges, and a very subtle nod to our South-Indian roots with some coriander.

Refreshing or what?!

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But the secret ingredient that takes this cocktail from being just a pleasantly refreshing Gin cocktail to a real Ginchax, is a dash of vanilla syrup. (Also, not such a secret ingredient anymore because we just told you, but you get the idea.)

The fresh,citrusy flavours are perfectly balanced out by the vanilla syrup, and the Greater Than Gin completes the cocktail perfectly. Just like how Gin completes your life.

Try it, and we’ll see if it doesn’t. 

Paint Me Like One Of Your Bollywood Posters

While approaching the interiors of The Permit Room, much like our food and drinks, we wanted the setting to stay true to its roots.

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That’s why you’ll find movie posters with a South Indian twist to them sprinkled all around, and paintings and catchphrases that celebrate the quirkiness of our culture. Or even the walls that pay homage to street art, with furniture that’s as much an indicator of a city in the south as our food flavouring.

Full action, full meals.

Full action, full meals.

If you look around, everything tells a South Indian story.

Like the movie posters, with a truly TPR twist to them.

But first, a little history.

The art of film poster making is an old one. All the way back before digital printing and Instagram’s minimal posters were a thing, hand painted posters were the sole visual representation of what you could expect from the film, and therefore an integral publicity medium.

These grand hoardings also became the agreed upon, and much more dramatic alternatives to pamphlets. 

Being a Bollywood poster artist was one of the most lucrative careers for an artist at the time, and the poster artists in turn became an integral part of the film’s promotions.

The first painted film poster dates all the way back to the 1920s, which really was the golden era for these posters and their painters, appreciated not just for the art but also as the primary source of advertising for the film. 

And of course, as the film industry grew, so did the size of the posters.

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So important were these posters in generating hype about the film, that artists were called in and shown a bit of the film so that they could then depict their own interpretation of a scene or moment on their larger-than-life canvasses.

If this isn’t a collector’s item, we don’t know what is.

If this isn’t a collector’s item, we don’t know what is.

This then graduated to them receiving photographs of the scenes or the actors which they would then convert into posters, perhaps with a little artistic license of their own.

As any art form goes, film poster making, due to sheer scale alone, was a laborious process and took about four artists close to two days to work on one such 200 feet poster, on an average. Sometimes, even longer.

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The advent of digital printing effectively reduced that time to a negligible amount, and in doing so, completely replaced this art form overnight, resulting in a lot of artists suddenly finding themselves out of work.

Vinyl printing pretty much signified the end of Bollywood Poster painting. The artists have since graduated to painting posters of deities or making replicas for collectors.

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We at The Permit Room are all about local culture and nostalgia, and if you take a moment to stop and notice, our own homage to these film posters are up on the walls along the stairs. (Take the steps for once!)


We’ve taken beloved classics and made them (if possible) made them even more classic with some choice South-Indian style edits.

“Luke, I am your Appa!”

“Luke, I am your Appa!”

Of course, our posters might not be that accurate when it comes to what the film is really about, but it’ll make the South Indian (doesn’t even matter if you aren’t) in you giggle. Promissss.

In Da Club

While approaching the interiors of The Permit Room, much like our food and drinks, we wanted the setting to stay true to its roots.

That’s why you’ll find movie posters with a South Indian twist to them sprinkled all around, and paintings and catchphrases that celebrate the quirkiness of our culture. Or even the walls that pay homage to street art, with furniture that’s as much an indicator of a city in the south as our food flavouring

Beer maps for world domination

Beer maps for world domination

If you look around, everything tells a South Indian story.

Just like our Old Club section.

If you’ve spent enough time in Bangalore, you’ve bound to have ended up in (or at least heard of ) Something-Or-The-Other-Nagar Club. Either for their Annual Dance/Christmas/New Year party or the fact that there is a 10 years waiting list for you to become eligible to sign up as a member. Not a member, just eligible. Something the existing members won’t let you forget.
Talk about retaining some colonial style snobbery!

10 years waiting list, beetcheees!

10 years waiting list, beetcheees!

But ridiculous waiting lists, and general insufferable members aside, these old clubs definitely have a charm of their own, in a way all old-school Bangalore things do.

It could be the furniture, that’s seated everyone from British officers to the intellectuals and politicians of pre-Independence times, sipping away on their tea (and whiskey), smoking a pipe, probably discussing politics, world events, or just cricket scores.

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Stand around in one of the halls in these clubs, and you’ll almost hear the walls and furniture around you resonating with the decades of conversation and history that they have been witness to, and seemed to have absorbed over time. (These days, if you stay long enough, you’ll hear some DJ playing the latest Bollywood remix of some song at some party also. Different kind of resonance, that.)

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But just like how the walls and everything contained within them tell a story, the idea behind our second floor was to recreate the mood of a time gone by, a place you’d end up at after a game of cricket, or polo, perhaps. Where you could grab a drink (or three), play the role of a gentle(wo)man, eat a good local meal, and return to the comfort of your home.

Simpler times.

Sacred tablets with wisdom from older generations, standing the test of time.

Sacred tablets with wisdom from older generations, standing the test of time.

So next time you’re on this floor, don’t be surprised if the ghosts of gentlemen-past compel you to pull out the chair or open the door for your lady love(s). Just don’t blame us if the non-ghosts of feminists-present kick your ass for doing so.
You have been warned!

Next Edition, New Additions

THERE ISN’T A PALATE MORE DIVERSE THAN AN INDIAN ONE. AND YOU’D BE HARD PRESSED TO FIND THAT KIND OF VARIETY FROM JUST A SINGLE SECTION OF THE COUNTRY ANYWHERE ELSE.

One of the earnest ideas behind The Permit Room is to introduce people to the sheer variety of traditional South Indian cuisine, but with a modern-day take on it. Essentially it's recipes from your ajji's (Kannada for grandma) kitchen, but served in a rather modern, and also cocktail-friendly form. Your ajji may or may not approve.

We have four new glorious additions to our Menu, and we’re rather excited for you to try them.

First snacks and then mains, ok?

C is for Cauliflower and Cashew

C is for Cauliflower and Cashew

The Hukosu is our new vegetarian starter on the block. Yes, that sounds like some Japanese word, but it’s actually just the Kannada word for cauliflower.
This dish is primarily made of oven-roasted cauliflower, topped with shoe string potatoes and cashews, served with a yogurt dip garnish.
Crunchy, tasty, and nothing like you’ve ever tasted before. Promissss.

Anjal Masala Fry

Straight from the sea, this seer fish is cooked and marinated on the tava and topped with a tangy masala.

Girl, you’re my Anjal…

Girl, you’re my Anjal…

…you’re my darling Anjal.

…you’re my darling Anjal.

Up first in the Mains menu, we have the Mushroom Chettinad Curry.
It’s a rich dish made-up of Button and Oyster Mushrooms, in a fragrant Chettinadu gravy with green peas. And it comes with some crispy dosas, that we’ll gladly add some ghee to, only for you.

Button Mushroom + Benne Dosa = Best Combo!

Button Mushroom + Benne Dosa = Best Combo!

Our final dish is a special one, taken straight from the kitchens of our Culinary Head’s home. The Pandi Curry is Mamma’s recipe for the traditional Kodava pork (pandi) curry, served with a classic side of Akki Rottis (Ottis). Comfort food at it’s best, this one.

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So apdiye come off, try them all, and tell us which ones you liked best.








The Magnificent Pillar of Matchboxes

While approaching the interiors of The Permit Room, much like our food and drinks, we wanted the setting to stay true to its roots.

That’s why you’ll find movie posters with a South Indian twist to them sprinkled all around, and paintings and catchphrases that celebrate the quirkiness of our culture. Or even the walls that pay homage to street art, with furniture that’s as much an indicator of a city in the south as our food flavouring.

If you look around, everything tells a South Indian story.

Which brings us to the Magnificent Pillar of Matchboxes. (That’s actually what it’s called. Ask for a seat on that floor* next time and see.)

Hey Raja, you're a WINNER!

Hey Raja, you're a WINNER!

The pillar is covered with prints of the almost-poetic cheap wax match boxes. (Wood and all is slightly better quality)

Probably one of the best examples of disposable design, you’re bound to see them strewn about at small tea shops, smaller bars, and your chimney-esque friend’s place.

A closer look, and you’ll find everything from gods and goddesses, to animals and birds, or just random text on it. Like, Raju. 

There are no rules with such design. The words needn’t match the image, and the byline needn’t make sense at all.

That’s why you’ll find one cover that says Dolphin, but has a Whale on it. Or one called Gold Horse, but with a red horse on it. 

Or they’ll throw you off with a cover that says ‘Cow Head’ and actually has, you guessed it, a cow’s head on it.

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Because, screw logic and aesthetics. The matchbox cover is above and beyond all of that.

The real question here is, which fellow decides what art and text goes on these boxes?
Literally, who sits and says, “let’s call it Family Super Wax Matches, and put an image of four kittens on it.” Who?

Moderately life-altering questions like these are bound to arise when you encounter the Matchbox Pillar.
And if it makes you think about life, light, and all things bright, our job is done. 

Zippo got nothing on Hippo Super Deluxe Wax Matches. (on a box that says Winner, of course.)

Fun Fact: The official term for collecting matchboxes is called phillumeny. And also there exists a matchbox that says JamesBond (without space) and has a wolf on the cover. Oh, the joy.

 

*Don’t ask for a seat on the floor with the Magnificent Pillar of Matchboxes. No one will know what you’re talking about. That was a joke. Just in case.

The Mannina Menu

We’ve got an all-new, for-a-limited-time-only Special Menu.

We’re celebrating the traditional flavours and foods of Karnataka with our Mannina Menu.

The menu is all about soul food, involving local delicacies made from ragi, jowar and barley, but with a TPR twist, of course.

"It mudde been love..." 

"It mudde been love..." 

Mannina means from the earth/soil in Kannada, and that’s essentially the inspiration behind this special menu.

These grains have been a source of strength and satiation for centuries, and our little menu is a showcase of all the things that are intrinsically nourishing and from the soil of this state, our home.

We begin with the Barley Salad, which is barley, and a host of crunchy roasted vegetables served with a curry leaf dressing and some hung curd.

Our Chips and Gojju will make you nostalgic. The ideal snack, both healthy and filling, the tomato gojju and curd dip are perfect accompaniments.

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And to quench the chips-induced thirst, is our healthy Ragi Kanji, which includes the rather delightful flavours of jaggery, almond and cardamom as well.
And its complimentary with any dish of your choosing. How’s that!?

It wouldn’t be a TPR special without a modern twist—that’s why we have the Ragi Crêpe with Chicken Sukkha. Which is pretty much what it sounds like. Familiar and exotic, all at the same time.

If you're happy and you know it, crêpe your hands...sorry...

If you're happy and you know it, crêpe your hands...sorry...

You can’t call it the ‘Mannina’ menu without the staple favourite of the land, Ragi Mudde. Ours comes with the option of Soppu Saaru or Mutton Korma. Set!

Finishing things off on a sweet note, and making a repeat appearance, our Ragi dessert, which combines three textures in the form of a Ragi terrine, sponge and custard, with a  coconut and jaggery ice cream. 

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Sons (daughters also) of the soil— come by and rejoice!

Our Chef Says

"You can't call yourself a South-Indian restaurant in Karnataka without showcasing a menu that includes Ragi mudde and other local grains, which have been a source of nourishment and sustenance since time immemorial. This special menu has been developed in a way that is true in style to both The Permit Room and also Karnataka."

Bellary Baba's Badnekai

THERE ISN’T A PALATE MORE DIVERSE THAN AN INDIAN ONE. AND YOU’D BE HARD PRESSED TO FIND THAT KIND OF VARIETY FROM JUST A SINGLE SECTION OF THE COUNTRY ANYWHERE ELSE.

One of the earnest ideas behind The Permit Room is to introduce people to the sheer variety of traditional South Indian cuisine, but with a modern-day take on it. Essentially it's recipes from your ajji's (Kannada for grandma) kitchen, but served in a rather modern, and also cocktail-friendly form. Your ajji may or may not approve.

This time we have North Karnataka on a plate for you (well, a tiny bit of it anyway) in the form of the Bellary Baba’s Badnekai.

Bellary Represent!

Bellary Represent!

Let’s start at the start.

What is a Badnekai?

Badnekai is Kannada for brinjal. And that is your clue to what the core of this dish is made up off. 

 What’s so Bellary or Baba about this?

While eggplant is the primary base, the simple sides are what makes it truly representative.

The ‘Baba’ is just some alliterative fun at our end, but Bellary is a prominent city in North Karnataka, and the name is our way of paying homage to this part of the state.

The Bellary Baba Badnekai is chilled eggplant mash, with a smashed peanut dip that comes with jolada crackers.

Both peanuts and jolada feature prominently in the cuisine of the northern side of Karnataka. Peanut chutney, sometimes infused with some coconut, is a traditional staple. At ours, it’s a straight-up peanut dip.

See that cracker, see that crunch!

See that cracker, see that crunch!

Then there’s the jolada

Another typically north Karnataka dish, this thin flatbread is baked from jowar flour over a fire or skillet. Some people even do wheat flour versions of it, but we decided to go the classic route.

Our Chef Says

"The Bellary Baba Badnekai is a feel-good dish. While it’s very representative of North Karnataka cuisine, the dish is a combination of such complimentary flavours and textures that it automatically falls into the comfort food category, whether you’re from that part of our glorious state or not."

 

The Mango Menu

Nothing brings people together quite like mangoes.

In fact there are whole events planned around gathering and consuming mangoes. And with good reason.
Mangoes have been the traditional favourites at most cultural events, right from weddings to festivals to pretty much any auspicious celebration, especially in South India. That's probably why we associate them with a sense of community.

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And also what makes them the perfect choice for a special seasonal menu.

We went with the classics as we always do, but threw in some delightfully unusual combinations too. Indulge us, won't you?

There’s the Manga Curry of course, inspired by a rather staple South Indian style. Our version is a thick curry that comes with a selection of small sweet mangoes,  with a side of rice/appam/dosa/parotta. So really, any way you like it.

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If it's going to be representative of South India, then where there is curry, there must be rice. Our take on mango rice, Manga-Sadam comes with a Mampazha Pachadi. The dish is prepared in an Andhra style, and the pachadi is a serving of curd-based ripe mango, which brings a sweet and sour flavour to the dish. 

Moving over to the slightly less traditional side of the menu, we give you the Prawn and Fresh Mango Tostada.
Yup, that's right.

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It's our in-house made cracker with raw mango cream as the first layer and a fresh salsa of shrimp and mangoes with onion and coriander on top. And it's as delightful a burst of flavours as it sounds. But we'll let you be the judge of that. 

Of course, there's some Rasam made with mango pulp and served with fresh mango chunks to bring you back. But that isn't the only drinkable thing on the menu. Wouldn't be a Permit Room special without a solid cocktail now, would it? 
Which is why we have a vodka, fresh mango, ginger and green chilli cocktail. Jest for you.

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Oh, and did someone say dessert? Well, allow our Mango Tres Leche Cake to do the needful.
It's a unique combination of badam tres leche cake and fresh mango, and that's all you need to know.

Come by and give it a try. Manga season won't last forever.

Coco Jujubee Cooler

You know a drink's going to be good when it’s called 'Coco Jujubee Cooler'.

That, and that you’re probably going to be doing strange things once you’ve had one too many. (Just kidding. Or are we?!)

Coco jaanejaanaa...

Coco jaanejaanaa...

But first things first. What is a ‘jujubee’?

If you find yourself asking that question then you probably haven’t spent too much time in the south of the sub-continent, and even lesser time indulging in its classic cinema and sweetmeat offerings.

For ‘jujubee’ ( or ‘jujube’ as it is more popularly spelt) is a word so versatile that you could either be talking about a chewy, squishy sweet usually with a sugary coating, or describing a very waste fellow. 

The former a favourite amongst schoolchildren of all kinds, and the latter a colloquial term for a cheap or ‘chillar’ fellow, made famous by our dearly beloved Rajni aka Superstar aka Thalaiva, which then obviously became a favourite word amongst all humans in the Universe and realms beyond.

So decoding the meaning depends a lot on the context.

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The Drink

At The Permit Room the Coco Jujubee Cooler is a deadly weapon we’ve created for you to combat the sultry Summer.

When you drink up one of these beauties, you’re arming yourself with the coolness of fresh cucumber, the tropical vibes of tender coconut, the historical and artistic weight of a classic word like ‘jujube’ (and also coconut jelly), and of course, the ultimate coolth of Gin.

Basically, you be chillin’ like a villain. 

Our Bartender Says

"It’s a bar favourite because of the refreshing flavours and also the combination of these flavours with gin. And the name is a great talking point too. We’ve seen many customers impress their respective male/female friends by giving them the origin of the word ‘jujube’, and after consuming a certain number of these cocktails, proceeding to hilariously enact scenes from Rajni’s aka Superstar’s aka Thailava’s movies."

Bhatkal Coastal

What is Bhatkal?

It’s a coastal town near Mangalore. Also known as ‘Batecala' in Portuguese texts, if you’re going to be all phoren about it.

The many lovely level of the tiffin carrier.

The many lovely level of the tiffin carrier.

Some History

But the different name isn’t the only indicator of foreign influence. The town also has a rich heritage of Arabic influences, and an area where it is seen very strongly is in its cuisine.

One of the dishes that is rather typically Arabic but with a location-specific twist to it, is the Bhatkal biryani. Although it is pretty similar to traditional biryani, it has a signature Mangalorean coastal touch, and the added ingredients of curry leaves and mustard, that make it the signature dish it is.

If you’ve grown up in the southern part of the subcontinent, or ever peeped into the tiffin box of a South-Indian classmate, semiya has to have made an appearance at some point. 

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At The Permit Room

The Bhatkal Coastal we do was conceptualised as part of our Tiffin Menu, and we decided to do a semiya (vermicelli) version that we thought would be fitting. 

Staying true to the dish’s roots, we do a prawn version. (But vegetarian option also available, just for jolly.)

The masala used (you’ll see when you nicely give one mix) is an onion and tomato masala, with a little bit of coconut milk. And completing the experience, are the pickle, raita and botti served along with it.

Vermicelli my belly, thankyouverymuch!

Vermicelli my belly, thankyouverymuch!

If all of that history, and downright decadent description didn’t convince you, there’s also the fact that we serve it in a very traditional tiffin carrier. How’s that for an extra dollop of nostalgia?

Our Chef Says

The Bhatkal Coastal is a heady mix of nostalgia and familiarity, making it almost irresistible when you're craving comfort food, whether you grew up by the coast or in the city. The fact that it comes in an old-school tiffin carrier just adds to the appeal. Plus, what's nostalgia without some gold fingers that you must absolutely put on all five fingers before eating, right!?

Come by and try our Bhatkal Coastal sometime—it is guaranteed to give you the feelings.