Non Resident Idli

THERE ISN'T A PALETTE 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.

Wait...is this dip or non-dip?

Wait...is this dip or non-dip?

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.

Thindi Tales is an attempt to take you one step deeper, the equivalent of getting you to eat meals with your fingers, and hopefully help you appreciate South-Indian cuisine in all its gastronomic glory. 

This time, we bring to you our take on the classic and forever favourite—Idli, Sambhar and Chutney. 
Or how we like to call it here at The Permit Room, the Non Resident Idli. You'll see why.

About Idlis. And Sambhar and Chutney.
 

If you’ve spent enough time, or just a weekend in the southern part of the sub-continent, there’s a good chance that you’ve been introduced to the holy trinity of south-Indian breakfast—Idli, Sambhar and Chutney.

Is it an egg? It is an idli? No...it's an NRI!

Is it an egg? It is an idli? No...it's an NRI!

The people who delight in this breakfast are broadly classified into two categories—Team Sambhar Dip and Team Sambhar Separate/Side le. 
We don’t really take sides. As long as there's chutney, we're good.

The idli itself is a much celebrated dish down-south, with people consuming it not just for breakfast, but even for 'tiffin' and dinner sometimes.

It’s also a rather versatile dish—you'll find it at cocktail parties on toothpicks, fitness enthusiasts consume it after a workout with sugarless fruit juice, and moms force their kids to have it when they’re unwell thereby spawning a generation of teenagers who detest this lovely dish, until they grow up and learn the error of their ways.

It’s widely consumed because it’s light, easy to make, and practically flavourless. Which is where our other two key components come into play—chutney and sambhar.

The idli is only as good as the chutney and sambhar served with it. This is an unspoken law of idli land. Screw this up, and it doesn’t matter how fluffy or well formed your idlis turn out. It's a big "Beda Saar!" from us.

At The Permit Room
 

Since idlis are so mild, the opportunities to experiment with sambhar and chutney flavours are plenty. And that’s exactly what we’ve done here at The Permit Room.

We’ve taken this traditional combo and given it a bit of a modernist twist.
The idlis are presented like popovers with the sambhar served on it—but it’s not what you think.

The sambhar is made into spheres and placed on top of the idlis, giving it an almost egg yolk-like appearance. And we’ve transformed the chutney into a fluid gel, so it’s super smooth while retaining all the original flavours that a good chutney ought to have. And as a finishing touch, a sprinkling of ghee powder. Because, of course.

Our Chef says


"I always knew we had to have some form of the idli-sambhar-chutney combo on our menu. It's a South-Indian classic. But because we do everything a little differently here, I decided to try a modernistic approach—both in the presentation of the dish and also in the preparation of the chutney and sambhar. That way, even though our customers have the comfort of familiar flavours, it's still an exciting new presentation for them."

Haleem Samosas

THERE ISN'T A PALETTE 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.

Thindi Tales is an attempt to take you one step deeper, the equivalent of getting you to eat meals with your fingers, and hopefully help you appreciate south-indian cuisine in all its gastronomic glory. 

We took India’s favourite tea-time snack and put one of the tastiest forms of what can only be described as a thick meat stew, (although other words like ‘heaven’, ‘perfection’, ‘nomnom’, have also been used to describe it), and made it into the ultimate snack-meal tag team. Just for you.
Presenting, our Haleem Samosas.

You + Haleem + Samosas = The best love triangle ever!

You + Haleem + Samosas = The best love triangle ever!

A Little History

They both go back a long way, so let’s break it down.

What is a samosa?

Originally, the samosa was called samsa, meant to be representative of the pyramids in Central Asia, which were called sanbosag, in Persian. That’s also why they’re shaped that way.

Historians and food-enthusiasts (because we refuse to use the word ‘foodies’) are divided over whether it was first introduced during the Delhi Sultanate rule, or whether it was brought by traders to the country.
Either way, we’re pretty damn happy that someone decided to do it. 

They made for a great travel snack, easy to carry, could be cooked over fires, and given the long trails of discovery being undertaken back in the day, (what with no Uber and all), we think traders bringing it in seems likely.

Since then, it’s become a snacking favourite not only amongst Kitty-Party aunties in the form of ‘cocktail samosas’, but also hungry and broke college students.
“Boss, ondu chicken samosa kodi”, has been repeated in college campuses across Karnataka more than any lecture ever has or will be. 

Because of its inclusive, enveloping nature, it’s been stuffed with everything from pumpkin and feta cheese, to potatoes and minced meat.

Which brings us to our next main ingredient, Haleem.

What is Haleem?

Just like the samosa, haleem also traces its roots back to Central Asia, particularly Iran and Afghanistan. 

You can find mentions of it in the Akbarnama, as a dish made in the Mughal Emperor Akbar’s kitchens, which is probably when India was also introduced to it.

This unique dish is a thick and filling stew made of mutton, wheat, channa dal, moong dal and assorted spices.

Do the haleem shake. (Sorry.)

Do the haleem shake. (Sorry.)

The mutton and dals are prepared separately, and then everything , along with a little water, is made to boil and simmer.
The stew is left overnight to thicken and is then served hot, usually with caramelised onions, cilantro and lime wedges as garnish.

Because of how healthy the contents of this dish are, it is also considered an ideal dish to consume when fasts are broken during Ramzan. It’s an immediate energy and nutrition booster. And also, so delicious. 

It’s interesting to note that both the samosa and haleem trace their origins back to Central Asia.
It’s almost like they were waiting for someone to bring them together, a thought that gets our Chef all emotional while making it, every single time.


At The Permit Room

We combine both the deep fried samosa patty and the chunky, flavourful haleem, and give you the perfect snack option, whether you’re consuming tea, coffee or cocktails.

Our version is stuffed with lamb paté, along with the classic browned onion and lime garnish.
And when you get validation in the form of Masterchefs Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston recommending the dish to people visiting the city, amongst others they tried and loved at The Permit Room, you know you're doing something right. 


Our Chef Says

“The Haleem Samosas are easily one of the crowd favourites. They’re a combination of two beloved dishes, after all. The crunchy samosa patty combined with the succulent meat paté inside makes for great texture, and works really well as an accompaniment with drinks. They have so much in common, it’s like a natural pairing, meant-to-be almost. Patty and paté, samosa and stuffing—so poetic."

Put (Guntur Liquid) Chutney!

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

View before consumption.

View before consumption.

Celebrating the delightfully unique drinking culture of the south, are our quirky TPR Cocktails. It’s everything traditional, but with a twist.
This time, the Guntur Liquid Chutney.

Andhra cuisine is famously known to be spicy. There is much pride taken in the spice consuming abilities of the people of this land. 
Apparently the youth have a coming-of-age ritual where they have a spice-off challenge to see who can endure gustatory hell before someone either begins to weep or permanently becomes a shade of red.
(We might be making this fact up, but you never know.)

We present one of the most recognised ingredients of said region’s cuisine, in cocktail form. 

The legendary chilli we speak of is the Guntur Sannam or S4. (It already sounds badass, doesn’t it?)
This chilli’s rather fiery fame isn’t just restricted to Andra Pradesh though—it actually makes up 30% of India’s chilli export, so the international demand for it is pretty high.

People have been known to cry themselves senseless while consuming anything made from this little ingredient (questionable fact #2), but it’s all worth it we're told. Don’t worry though. Our cocktail only produces tears of the joyous kind.*
(* subject to relationship status at the time.)

That’s mainly because we mix it up with a bunch of lovely ingredients which perfectly offset the spice, while retaining the right amount of edginess. 

View after consuming 4 of these.

View after consuming 4 of these.

What might those ingredients be?
Well, mango juice, vanilla syrup and vodka. And it all looks rather gorgeous too. 

Since it’s a universally held opinion that mangoes make everything better, and vanilla syrup helps make cake which also make everything better, and also vodka is alcohol which is fantastic, a classic Andhra ingredient like the Guntur chilli added to that mix just couldn’t go wrong.

I mean, the land is one of our primary sources of biryani, you guys. We just submit willingly to anything that comes from there for that reason alone.

But opinions and questionable facts aside, it’s definitely a fun drink to try and easily one of our most colourful ones. You will also feel colourful after drinking it.
Put chutneyyyy, we say! 

Our Bartender Says:
“The beauty of the Guntur Liquid Chutney is that while it contains such a distinct Indian ingredient, it has all the makings of a proper international cocktail. Everything is balanced just right, the sweet of the mango juice and syrup offsetting the chilli beautifully. And it looks great too.
That’s why, even people who aren’t huge fans of Vodka, end up trying and being pleasantly surprised by this cocktail.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Very Urban Kosambari Salad

THERE ISN'T A PALETTE 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.

Thindi Tales is an attempt to take you one step deeper, the equivalent of getting you to eat meals with your fingers, and hopefully help you appreciate south-indian cuisine in all its gastronomic glory. 

This time, we bring to you one of the in-house favourites, the Kosambari Salad.

Oh gorgeous crunchy crunchiness—come to meee!

Oh gorgeous crunchy crunchiness—come to meee!

The Dish

The Kosambari is a salad every South-Indian kid has grown up with. Whether they liked it or not.

But it’s really one of those dishes that you begin to appreciate with the wisdom of age. Plus, we have some rather exciting additions at ours to speed that process up for the kids.

But let’s explore this versatile salad a little more before we get into that.

A Little History

The Kosambari has been around for the longest time. A possible reason for that might be how ridiculously refreshing it is.
But really, it’s probably because of the simplicity of the dish. 

The combination of cucumber with moong dal isn’t just simple to prepare but also super nutritious and hydrating.
That’s why you’ll find this in the fanciest of diets, but also in solid meals. 

And the versatility?
That’s because it works great as a bar snack, although you’re likely to find it as a great side option in some very traditional sapaad situations. (Don’t tell them you ate it at the bar also, but.)

That's colour, texture, class, and everything not grass in a bowl.

That's colour, texture, class, and everything not grass in a bowl.

At The Permit Room

We take all the good things of the traditional salad and add a little twist of our own. Obviously.

We serve it with chicken. And bacon. Because bacon makes everything better. (Betty said so.)

For some fanciness, we threw in generous amounts of feta crumble and for Kannadiga feels, lots of pomegranate arils. Because, hell yeah!

Our Chef Says

“This is a personal favourite. It’s great to look at and taste too. Plus, I love it when dishes are both delicious and super nutritious. This works for everyone who comes here too—right from adorable ajjis seeking something traditional to ultra-mod figure conscious fellows.

It’s a burst of hydration and flavour, so really, what’s not to like? Throw in some chicken and bacon and you have the non-vegetarian naysayers lining up for some salad too.”

Jhum Jhum Tiger Balm

If you thought our cuisine was diverse, then you'll be as surprised with out drinking habits.

Whether we ‘put one small’ or grab a tall, be rest assured that Indian drinking habits are just as curious as 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 traditional, but with a twist.

That's a spirit(ual) solution to your stress right there.

That's a spirit(ual) solution to your stress right there.

The Drink

Just like how the Tiger Balm can cure anything, so can our little cocktail. (more or less.)
So if it’s a work related stress-based headache or just a pain-in-the-neck someone, we take the treatment to the soul level. (or liver level at the very least.)

Don’t let the size fool you—the cocktail packs a punch and we take the legacy of the original balm very seriously. Results guaranteed and all that. 

And just like the 100 year old balm-for-all-booboos, this is a legendary classic in the making.

The Breakdown

What a cutie. 

What a cutie. 

The Jhum Jhum Tiger Balm is a combination of a lot of fun things. Gin, sichuan pepper, pineapple, and pomegranate arils. (because we derive kicks from watching our bartender remove the arils. Heh!)

It's a curious combination of a little sweet, and a little spice, all in order to quickly make you forget your sorrows and become happy-happy.

Plus, there’s that secret ingredient that makes you ‘jhum jhum’.
( What exactly this ‘jhum jhum’ is, is open to interpretation and experimentation.)

Our Bartender Says

"I almost feel like a medical practitioner of sorts while handing this drink out—what with the name and the similar feel-good effects. Just like how the original Tiger Balm gained popularity through sampling on the streets, our little cocktail grew in demand through sampling at the bar. I've seen it cure everything from work-stress to heartbreak (temporarily anyway). Could this cute cocktail be bordering on magical, you ask?! Well, you're just going to have to try it and find out."

It's Thali Time

The Thali is easily one of the richest forms of Indian heritage.

A little bit of dosa, little of rice, a little bit of appam, makes everything nice. Hi, forced rhyme.

A little bit of dosa, little of rice, a little bit of appam, makes everything nice. Hi, forced rhyme.

It’s been around for the longest time, and isn’t just a grand display of variety. Although it is also that.

If you really want to get into the philosophy of it, it represents the perfect balance of all flavours, and that’s why traditionally you’ll find thalis have some amount of sweet and spicy food always, along with ingredients that aid the process of digestion. 
It’s all very scientific. 

Thalis were also meant to be representative of the season, and the crop and meat that were plenty at the time.
Which is kind of why it’s one of the finest reflections of culture, as far as cuisine is concerned. 

First go clockwise, then anti-clockwise.

First go clockwise, then anti-clockwise.

And a lot of ancient science and thought went into the plating of the thali too. 

The ingredients sometimes varied in relation to the person consuming it, and also the state of socio-economic and political affairs.
Like, the items in a thali served to soldiers during war would be focused on delivering more of certain nutrients and also increasing vigour, while the same thali during more peaceful times would probably have milder dishes, and maybe a little more sweet.

Think of the thali as a composite history lesson of Indian culture of the time. The best kind of history lesson.

And apart from all the philosophical, biological and cultural goodness, the thali also allowed the Chef some serious bragging rights—steaming, grilling, frying, baking, this here is where the chef could show off his/her skills at the whole gamut basically. 

The Chef could also experiment with local cooking techniques, and possibly add something new picked up during travels to neighbouring lands. 

Even today, items in a thali differ based on location and nature of event too, right down to which item is placed first and meant to be tasted first.

It’s really a marvellous culinary wonder and that’s why we just had to create four gorgeously crafted thalis for you.

While thalis differ greatly based on which part of the country they’re being consumed in, our versions are combinations of the best of the South. South Indian Saapad Slammers, if you will. (This was a close second option while naming the fixed lunch, but alas, didn’t make the cut.)

As with life, there are some fixed items, and then there are some adjustable items, and with the right permutations and combinations, we make the most of it. (We can also be the philosophy types, ok?!)

But a word of caution. Thali thulping is serious business. Make sure you do a little research before you commit to the process. Because once you’re in, you’re in for life. You better be ready to roll up your sleeves, tie up your hair, loosen your belt and go for it.

It’s a solemn pact that's signed in starch. Which is binding for life. 

You sign it on little grains of rice and then make a locket out of it. Hi, 2002. 

You sign it on little grains of rice and then make a locket out of it. Hi, 2002. 

At The Permit Room, we serve the thali in four fixed forms. But with room for quite a bit of personal customisation too. 

Based on your preference or mood at the time of consumption, we have the Veg Thali, the Seafood Thali, the Chicken Thali and the All Meat Thali.

Yup. Total very best representation. Also, if that’s a bit much to remember, here’s a little visual aid to help you.

Hi, very best Menu. 

Hi, very best Menu. 

While all of our thalis have certain fixed items, (also fixed unwritten rules like you can’t just have one serving of rice without looking seriously uncool), every type has four starters to get you going.

Post starter beltings, you get to choose a curry of your choice from a list of three, and descend into a rice induced rhapsody. (or parotta, dosa, appam induced, whatever jellies your belly but rice rhapsody sounded more catchy. Plus, what is meals without rice?) 

The table, the thali, the sides, and the menu within arm's reach. Hi, perfect setting.

The table, the thali, the sides, and the menu within arm's reach. Hi, perfect setting.

Anyway, these are our four types of thalis, put together with much thought and a lot of love. What are you even waiting for?

The unlimited rice won’t last forever. Or will it?

Hyper Monk

If you thought our cuisine was diverse, then you'll be as surprised with out drinking habits.

Whether we ‘put one small’ or grab a tall, be rest assured that Indian drinking habits are just as curious as 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 traditional, but with a twist.

The calm before the why-is-everything-so-awesome-and-I-think-I-can-fly.

The Drink

This one’s easily a classic—it’s got rum AND coffee! Clearly, we don’t use the term hyper lightly around here. And of course, the monk part of it is a nod to every Bangalorean's staple drink growing up. 

It’s kind of like one of those things where we decided to put two things everyone loves together, and then make it taste awesome. Happiness mixed with happiness, if you will. (See? It's already making us a bit silly.)

But, rum and coffee (and happiness) isn’t all that’s there to this drink.

The Breakdown

While generous amounts of Dark Rum and Espresso do form the oh-so-solid base of this cocktail, there’s also a splash of coconut syrup and a pinch of cinnamon powder. 

Why, you ask? Well, why not?!
The coconut adds a unique tropical flavour to the whole drink, and the cinnamon, a little extra zing. (As if this drink needed any more, but you know us right?!)

So, that’s relaxing + energising + tropical coolth + spicy zing = most awesome amped up cocktail ever. 

The flavours are all individually strong ones, and you're probably thinking this whole thing sounds a bit overpowering. But you'd be surprised at how these unlikely combos balance each other out perfectly. 

Our Bartender Says

“It’s kind of been an elixir for the working bunch especially. It’s got all the benefits of coffee plus rum, which makes it fun also, and gives them this giddy giddy feeling of being alert but also relaxed.
It’s not official or anything, but from the stories exchanged at the bar, it’s played quite the role in enhancing their work performance. And it's worked wonders for both people who love coffee and people who love rum. Which is everyone in this world, am I right?! ”

Mysuru Ooru Pak

THERE ISN'T A PALETTE 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.

Thindi Tales is an attempt to take you one step deeper, the equivalent of getting you to eat meals with your fingers, and hopefully help you appreciate south-indian cuisine in all its gastronomic glory.

The Dessert

If you’ve spent some time in a South-Indian household, then you’ve definitely, at some point, experienced the smell of ghee being cooked, gotten sort of giddy with the overpoweringly rich smell, and ended up enjoying the glorious result of it all—that golden brown glistening cake of Mysore Pak. 

Nothing embodies ‘melt-in-the-mouth’ quite like a perfectly cooked batch of Mysore Pak.

A Little History

The Mysore Pak, as the name would suggest, originated in the city of Mysore, from namma Karnataka.
(Put your hands up!)
The story goes that the head cook of the royal family, Kakasura Madappa, made this little beauty out of a simple combination of besan, ghee and sugar, giving it the look of gleaming gold, on request by the Maharaja Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar.

The sweet was such a hit that it became the go-to ‘royal sweet’, and when the King asked Madappa for a name, he didn’t really have one, so he simply called it Mysore Pak.

(A little extra history: The cook used to be called nalapaka which translates to ‘he who makes the paka’, paka being sugar syrup. That’s where the Pak part of the dish’s name comes from.)

The great-grandsons of Madappa run a small shop called Guru Sweet Mart in Mysore, carrying on the 75 years old legacy. You can find that perfect piece of Mysore Pak here. Or if you’re looking for a slightly modern take on this classic, there’s one more place you can head to.

At The Permit Room

Our take on the Mysore Pak comes with a bit of a fruity flavour.

Anyone who knows anything about this sweet knows that Mysore Pak lovers fall into two categories—the wet, dripping-with-ghee gorgeousness or the powdery, crumbly cakes of deliciousness.  You’re either one of the two, never both.

But what if we had a version that combines the best of both worlds? A little crunchy, crumbliness with some ghee infused goodness inside?

Yup. That’s how we serve it up here at The Permit Room, a perfect blend of some texture and taste, along with some Kiwi salad and some radical plating.
Kakasura would approve, we think. 

Fun Fact (?)

The best way to eat Mysore Pak, we hear, is by doing a happy little jig, sharing it with a desired cutie,(because sharing = caring), and having your part of the piece in one go. That last part is critical for maximum enjoyment. 

Ammachi's Kashayam

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

Golden Grandma Goodness.

Golden Grandma Goodness.

Ammachi’s love makes everything ok, and if you don’t believe us, you can take a sip of the Kashayam and feel your problems (and general decision making ability) magically disappear.  Presenting the solution to sniffles, tasty cocktail cravings, heartbreak, stress and life itself—Ammachi’s Kashayam. 

The Drink

There is nothing that warms the soul (and body) better than some good old grandma warmth.

That’s why even when you eat (or drink) a dish that your grandma first introduced you to, it’s never quite the same unless it’s made by her loving grandma hands.
And while we might not be able to replicate grandma’s love, we give you the next best thing—Ammachi’s Kashayam.

Remember every time you were sick, had the flu, or generally the sneezy blues, and your Ammachi would float from the kitchen like a fairy godmother with a steaming glass of what can only be described as a magical elixir of health?

Well, this is something like that, with our own version of magic added to it—brandy. Because brandy makes everything dandy. (as do forced rhymes.)

The Breakdown

The Kashayam itself is a popular drink, given over time to help get your health back in check.
The ingredients vary from household to household, the only constant being that it’s something warm that soothes the throat. Some recipes for the kashayam even use milk.

The drink is always served hot though, with the spices used changing based on where you’re consuming it. 

Our version of the drink includes, cardamom, cinnamon for a gorgeous aroma, a little bit of ginger to get that soothing feeling, jaggery for a little bit of texture and also to cut the harshness of the brandy, with the final addition being hot water.

All of these ingredients, with brandy as a base, make for an unbeatably smooth cocktail.

And if anyone ever has a problem with you drinking it, just say it’s for medicinal purposes.
You can get your very best Ammachi to approve it too, but maybe leave the brandy out when you ask her. 

Our Bartender Says

“It’s the perfect winter drink. But also great every time you need some soothing solution to sort you out. And Bangalore is a perfect setting for a drink like this. Everyone from people struggling with colds and coughs, to singers watching their voices, to just peaced out folk looking for a yummy cocktail to set the mood love the Ammachi’s Kashayam. And with good reason too!”

The Courtship Checklist

The gorgeous day (or dreaded day, depending on how single or against commercialisation you are) of St. Valentine’s birth is almost upon us.

And while he gave his life saving people from persecution, modern day mechanics have made it all about chocolate, flowers and yippidy-doodle-doo. 

Anyway, the one thing that hasn’t gone out of style like this day is the awkwardness that comes with it, and you know, the crushing fear of rejection and lonlineness. (Sigh.)
So we decided to come to your aid so that your chinna chinna aaseys (aaseys, not asses! But those also.) aren’t shot down brutally.  

Cute Couple in low res #1. This could be you.

Cute Couple in low res #1. This could be you.

Presenting the very southern Courtship Checklist (or call it The Stages of South Indian Style Seducing, if you’re feeling like a naughty fellow.)

Step 1 : Eye Contact

It’s a tricky one, but with much practice in front of the mirror, you will be able to adopt a cool and not creepy eye-contact face. (Yes. All the facial muscles must be involved just for eye contact if it is to be meaningful.)

The idea is to somehow make it seem like your eyes are talking without a word actually being said. Attempt this no more than twice, and if her kajal-lined peepers speak back, continue to talk, but not talk, while taking frequent breaks to appear coy. 
Sensitive is the new sexy. (#SensitiveSouthIndians)

Step 2: Jasmine Fluver For Your Luver

Do this only when certain of not being rejected. The act of wearing malligai in one’s hair, given by a significant other, is a sign of acceptance, communicating to said significant that their advances are welcome. It’s a traditional ‘relationship status’ of sorts, putting it out there. (well, up in your hair, anyway.)

Ladies, you can substitute the malligai with a pocket comb. Unless your man is into flowers. (Never imply that a woman must take only the flowers or the man only the comb. Being politically correct is exhausting, but totes worth it.)
Malligai for the bae, is definitely the way to go.

Cute Couples in low res #2. Yes, you.

Cute Couples in low res #2. Yes, you.

Step 3: (Filter) Coffee Date

Once the flowers have been accepted, attempt a coffee date.
This is a conventional and acceptable method of courting that even your ajji would approve of. Lasts about 5-7 minutes, based on your preferred temperature at the time of consumption.
During this date, do not look to prolong this encounter with conversation as it might reflect poorly on your filter-kaapi etiquette.
As Marilyn Akka once said, some like it hot.

Step 4: Meals

It’s the ultimate test. No conversation, no courting—it’s time to get serious.
Take her to a good South Indian restaurant that serves meals, along with other things.
If she calls the waiter and says,  “Boss, one Full Meals” of her own accord, and has more than two servings of rice, with ghee, ask her out with immediate effect. She is one-of-a-kind.

If she flips to the Chinese section of the menu and orders Chopsuey at said meals place—run!

Step 5: Bike Ride Badassery

Sitting on the bike is establishing the courtship to the world, like a badass.
Sunshades on, sari guard on, bike throttle on high—life is good, zipping around on your Royal Enfield, with him/her sitting sideways (remember that political correctness?), sharing earphones, listening to some sick southern beats.

Cute Couples in low res #3. You and your boo.

Cute Couples in low res #3. You and your boo.

Step 6: 6 am Seducing

Nothing says ‘you’re the first thing on my mind’ quite like steaming hot thatte idlis with very best chutney on the side. (Throwing in a vada wouldn’t hurt either. But that depends on where you throw it.)

If she orders a kesari baath at the end of this early morning encounter, consider the deal sealed with this sweetness. 

Anyway, best of luck courting the kutti of your dreams.
To help you on the fly, on the day which is V Day, here’s a little summary we call the 7 Cs—(eye) Contact , (not be a) Creep, (flowers for hair means codeword) Comb, (filtering through) Coffee, (run if she says) Chopsuey, (display of) Courtship (on bike), (idli and) Chutney.

The Meen Moilee Kappa

THERE ISN'T A PALETTE 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.

Tikañña, even if we do say so ourselves.

Tikañña, even if we do say so ourselves.

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.

Thindi Tales is an attempt to take you one step deeper, the equivalent of getting you to eat meals with your fingers, and hopefully help you appreciate south-indian cuisine in all its gastronomic glory. 

If you’re from Kerala, or anywhere in the world really, (most notably the Middle East), there’s a good chance you’ve heard about this dish. Tried it even. And also been given the history behind it as well. 
Well, we’d like to add our two baits (see what we did there...ok you did)—presenting the Meen Moilee Kappa. 

The Dish

The main thing you need to know (and the only thing that really matters) is that this dish is 100% straight up mallu. (#represent)
That's why you have to roll that tongue when you say 'moilee' and make sure you stress on the double-p in 'kappa' to ensure you sound like you know what you're talking about.

The dish itself is a famous fish curry in that area of the south, and has kind of been around in the kitchens of Kerala since fish have been in the sea. (We exaggerate. You get it.)

So, to break it down, ‘meen’ is Malayalam for fish, the word ‘moilee’ translates to stew, and 'kappa', which is the other ingredient in our version, is nothing but tapioca. (also a cool substitute for more things than you’d imagine.)

Oh, you meen moilee molly!

Oh, you meen moilee molly!

A Little History

The origin of this dish can be traced back to when the Portuguese occupied the coasts of Kerala.
It certainly explains the mild flavouring of the dish, belonging to an otherwise flavour-heavy cuisine. 
Believed to be a typically Syrian Christian dish, the traditional method of serving this dish used to be in an earthen vessel, with some appam on the side, you know, for touchings. (Literally.)

At The Permit Room

Our Moilee is basically a mild coconut-milk based stew. We keep it mild so that the focus stays on the flavour of the fish.
You can use pretty much any kind of fish for this dish, but at our place the fish of choice is a poached brown Grouper Fish served as a fillet, on a nice, big bed of tapioca mash.

Our Chef Says

“Our Meen Moilee is one of those delightfully mild dishes, which while not being too heavily flavoured, still has a whole bunch of gustatory delights within it. It goes great with everything from rice to appams to idiyappams, and is definitely a must-try for anyone who claims to love fish.”

 

***A Cool Maccha Fact*** (look out for these, like, a little)
Another cool kappa connection with Kerala is Kappa TV, a Malayalam television and YouTube channel, where a whole bunch of local South-Indian (and other) local bands are featured and promoted. There! Take it and go.

The Spectacular Sankranti Breakdown.

If you've spent a decent amount of time in South India, you'll know that the festival is the food, and vice versa. (And idli-dosa.)

But terrible rhymes aside, a whole bunch of harvest festivals were just celebrated all over the country last weekend, all celebrating the coming of a new harvest season, and with the hope that it will bring prosperity and good fortune with it, just like the new crop. 

So many festivals can be overwhelming, so as a favour (and for some home-made festival treats), we'll break them down for you—presenting the Spectacular Sankranti Breakdown.

The Names

Depending on where you're from, anything from Lohri, Sankranti, Pongal, Makar Sankranti to Vishu, goes. All legit names celebrating the same thing—a new harvest, and marking the transition of the season.

The Food

It's all about the harvest, so the focus remains on local, traditional produce. In Karnataka, Ragi is the crop of the hour (erm...of 24 hours). But that's not to say that a kingly meal of many items isn't made. It is, and you may eat like the deserving person of royalty that you are. 

Be my little flower, plis.  (Image courtesy http://picklejar.in)

Be my little flower, plis.  (Image courtesy http://picklejar.in)

Equally part of tradition is enjoying some sugarcane on the festival day—sitting down with stalks of sugarcane, tearing the outer layer off with your teeth, showing off about your superior dental strength to your sibling (or being showed off to, depending on which kid you were.)
And after all the hard work, enjoying a proper, juicy bite of sugarcane, with the sweetness exploding in your mouth with every chewy bite. And then spending the rest of the day getting the bits of sugarcane stuck in your teeth out. Bliss.

The Dressing

As all the grandmas will constantly remind you everyday for a week leading up to the festival—new clothes! The more starched and shiny they are, the better. A bindi on your forehead, a flower in your hair, and you're set. *knuckle cracking against forehead to remove bad omens.*

The Story

Sankranti is basically a solar event, that marks a seasonal shift from Winter to Spring. The term Sankranti literally translates to 'change of direction', signifying the various seasonal and astronomical changes taking place.

Image courtesy http://picklejar.in

Image courtesy http://picklejar.in

It's also a celebration of the first harvest of the year, and the next few months that follow are considered super lucky for life and related things. That's why you might find enthusatsic aunties urging you to undertake all life-altering activities during this time. 

The Funsies

A fun activity that becomes hugely popular around this time is kite flying. Colourful, very coolly shaped kites take flight with kids and adults chasing after them. Sometimes it's hard to tell them apart. But hey, fun and games.

The We-Made-This-Up

Since kite flying is all the rage, around this time, if in a fit of irritation you asked someone to 'go fly a kite', you might just be surprised by an enthusiastically affirmative response.
But don't take our word for it. (Really. Don't.)

Also, possible trending-worthy hashtags you could incorporate into festive social media actives to appear traditional AND cool-
#ThisIsHowWeSendItOnSankranti #HubbaHubbaHabbadha #SendingThemSankrantiFeels. Amongst others.

Belated Sankranti Habbadha Subhashayagalu, macheshes.

The Very Merry Christmas Menu Maccha

THERE ISN'T A PALETTE 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.

Isn't that the yummiest Christmas Wreath you've seen?

Isn't that the yummiest Christmas Wreath you've seen?

The Christmas Menu at The Permit Room is exactly this, with a sprinkling of Christmas cheer. So that's some serious South Indian magic, backed by Santa. It's a seasonal attempt to take you one step deeper, the equivalent of getting you to eat that meal with your fingers, and hopefully help you appreciate south-indian cuisine, and all the in all its gastronomic glory. 

But come now, child. It is time to make merry.

We begin the food festivities with the Mutton Cutlets—crispy and full of minced mutton and spices, and served with a fresh salad and chutney, this dish has a Christmas colours theme to it too. Awww!

Hi crunchy Christmas goodness. 

Hi crunchy Christmas goodness. 

Furthering the crunch factor, are the Seafood Bondas, which are wrapped with Tapioca mash and crumb fried. 
Between these two, that's all the crunchiness you'll need this joyful season. 

Some bonda bonding, if you will.

Some bonda bonding, if you will.

Christmas is for everyone. Even vegetarians. 

Keeping with that spirit, we made a delicate Au Gratin of Usili baked on Bagaare Baingan. You must try this to believe it. 

Usili I don't do this, but yum. 

Usili I don't do this, but yum. 

And if you thought there was no way something like beans could ever be enjoyable, then think again. Our Poriyal Puffs with stir fried asparagus, carrots and beans, served on a puff pastry with sauce Mornay will definitely make you go yay! (And also feel compelled to use forced rhymes.)

Some poriyal perfection for Santa's nice kids. And naughty ones also.

Some poriyal perfection for Santa's nice kids. And naughty ones also.

We usually don't like picking favourites. But come on. Santa has them and so do we. And in our list of nice, the Butter Curry Roast Chicken would be right on top. Of course there had to be Roast Chicken, it's Christmas! And of course it had to have a special twist to it. It's us!

Chicken Roast with the most.

Chicken Roast with the most.

Also, Biryani. Obviously. Nothing makes anyone merrier. 

Season(ing) of love. 

Season(ing) of love. 

Finishing things off and paying homage to the sweet, lovin' feeling that only comes with this time of the year, is our 'Dulce de Leche' Pazam Pori.

Dulce & Banana. 

Dulce & Banana. 

That's Kerala plantain stuffed with dulce cream and crumb fried and served with vanilla ice cream and citrus caramel sauce. It's warm like everything Christmas, and it'll leave you feeling that way for a long while after. Like Dolce & Gabbana, but Dulce & Banana. (That one's straight from the Chef.)
The Plum Pudding and Mulled Wine will do well in extending this feel-good feeling. Consume in copious amounts, we say.

But no Christmas Menu has meaning without having friends and family to share it with. So bring Kutti, Cheta, Ajji, Thatha, Chechi and just come off. Christmas is came!

The Breakfast and All-Day Tiffin Menu

The glorious 'Tiffin' is a meal in its own right. And because breakfast is the most important meal of the day and all that, our menu starts good and proper with soup, starters of sorts, solid mains, and ends with a dessert. That's right, dessert for breakfast.

Well, crunchy crunch you too!

Well, crunchy crunch you too!

But before we get into the details of this very special menu, some trivia, as always.

First things first. Tiffin as in tiffin box, right? Well, yes and no. 

Some theories say that it originates from the time the British first set up shop in India. Thanks to our mostly tropical (in comparison anyway) climate, much of their lifestyle had to be modified in order to acclimatise. This included eating habits.

Some cross-section perfection.

Some cross-section perfection.

Because of the hot days, lunch wasn’t as rich a meal as usual, and became a somewhat simplified version.
And as all new things do, this new meal needed a name. Through what must have been a rather interesting vocabulary evolution, the word ‘tiffin’ came to describe this light, early-afternoon meal. 

Eggs Benedict...Cumberbatch. Sorrynotsorry.

Eggs Benedict...Cumberbatch. Sorrynotsorry.

It is believed to have come from the British slang ‘tiff’, for a spot of diluted liquor, and the act of consuming this choice bit of liquor, ‘tiffing.’ (Guess they weren't just eating in the early afternoons, then.)

This then became the word of choice to describe the lovingly packed lunches school children would carry with them, you know, one for 'short break' and the other for 'long break', in a basket, with a napkin and all. Which is where we get ‘tiffin box’ from, and it applies to everything from the slick plastic ones to the full on multi-storeyed steel ones.
( And somehow the contents of your classmate’s tiffin box always seemed more exciting than yours.)

But now, let’s quickly fast-forward into current times and return to our very own evolution of this tiffin fellow.

Our breakfast homage contains legendary dishes like the Bisi Bele Bath of the best-kind-of-baths-to-have fame, closely followed by some Mutton Paya Soup to whet (and wet) that palette, with our little twist in the form of a khaara bun.

Just like Amma's. (Or Appa's even.)

Just like Amma's. (Or Appa's even.)

(If you think Khaara Bun isn’t as legendary as any dish out there, well then, you clearly haven’t gone to college in South India and survived on a daily allowance of rupees ten only.)

And while we’re on the topic of breads, the menu also has what we call the ‘Iyengar Bakery’ style of Brioche. You just have to try it to believe it. We're not going to say anything to give it away.

So, we'll just move on to the staples—there's some crunchy cocktail vada, along with tapioca stuffed mini dosa rolls. But also with Gruyere Cheese and Black Forest Ham.
Oh yeaaaah!

Keeping that possible British connection alive, we’ve thrown in some Eggs Benedict and Florentine, because what's a Sunday breakfast situation without eggs?
Only, ours are served on cute little coin parottas. Kind of like British Babu meets Baby Matthew. 
(Because coin parotta is from Kerala and Baby Matthew could be anyone from there too. No? Baby Matthew Baby, then? Better?)

No South-Indian Breakfast Menu would truly be complete without something ‘appam’, so we added two of the kind—Idiyappam and just-appam. With egg roast and the classic coconut stew in three options, respectively. Full respect...ively. 

Sweetening this whole entire tiffin deal, to perfect that fully-full feeling that should be synonymous with all Sundays, is our dessert in the form of Warm Banana Sajjige.
(That's pronounced sajji-gay, because it makes you go yay and that makes you happy and...you get the drift.)
Generously sprinkled with cashew praline, along with a salted caramel sauce forming the base, it's all the flavours of South Indian festivals in a dessert. 

Sajjige your way to me, sweet thing!

Sajjige your way to me, sweet thing!

So if you're looking to start your Sunday right, and are in the mood for a solid breakfast, let our tiffin do the needful. Go take a look at everything on the menu again. Just for memory sakes. And for jolly. And for Baby Matthew Baby.

Mini Meals me this.

Mini Meals me this.

Remember, any time is a good time. But Sunday morning is best because, Sunday Morning Love You. And we don't dilute your alcohol here, so the only tiffs we'll be having will be in the form of this glorious new menu. God Promise! 

Donne Lamb Biryani

THERE ISN'T A PALETTE 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.

Wait for it...

Wait for it...

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.

Thindi Tales is an attempt to take you one step deeper, the equivalent of getting you to eat meals with your fingers, and hopefully help you appreciate south-indian cuisine in all its gastronomic glory. 

If you’re from Bangalore and a lover of all things rice, chances are you’re more than familiar with this dish. While biryani itself has a long and glorious history, the Donne Biryani is special to namma ooru. 

The Dish

We’ve kept it pretty true to the classic, and added a little delight via detail.

Ufff. Just look at it.

Ufff. Just look at it.

There’s the biryani, the gorgeous cuts of lamb, the sides, and did we mention the mouth-watering cuts of lamb? We did? That’s ok. It’s worth mentioning twice.

Pretty much everyone (with any decent taste in food) knows what biryani is.
But what exactly is a ‘donne’?

A Little History

‘Donne’, (pronounced dhoe-nae, like watch me whip/watch me naenae, but with some stress on the ’n’ like ‘nuhhhh’), is nothing but big, huge cups or bowls made from the Areca Palm leaf. 

That’s pretty much where the name for the dish comes from. And while the style of the biryani is slightly different too, that’s an inside secret we aren't at liberty to share.

Also, eco warriors will agree that the best part about traditional recipes and dishes is that our ancestors always found some way to keep it real with nature. That’s why, apart from biryani consuming purposes, these kind of bowls and plates are making a comeback because of their eco-friendly disposable abilities.

At The Permit Room

We’ve modelled our version around the Military Hotel style of biryani. Which basically means a no-nonsense, fully-focused-on-the-food-without-any-frills kind of biryani. We highly recommend you stop by one of the many military hotels that line the highways of Karnataka at some point in your lives. And if that's too far, you just come off here.

The Donne Biryani comprises of some perfectly succulent pieces of lamb steeped in all the earthy flavours associated with this dish. We serve it hot off the fire, in a bowl made from Areca leaf, which really lends to the rustic nature of this dish. And on the side, we have some raita, fried onions, crackers, and a whole lot of love. (Sorry, but biryani makes a romantic mess out of us!)

Our Chef Says

“We had a lot of fun creating this dish. It’s got all the Donne Biryani trademark features in it, with a little bit of our signature stylings too. We decided to add some standard sides that complement the biryani. They’re pretty traditional as far as biryani is concerned, but also subtle enough to not take away from the main flavour in focus."

Paati's Magic Rasam

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

That's not rasam powder—that's magic powder lining a magical drink.

That's not rasam powder—that's magic powder lining a magical drink.

Let’s just straight up agree that anything made by Paati is magical. Anything at all.
If you’re wondering what a paati is, it’s the personification of all things kind, warm, soft, with exceptional cooking skills. More commonly known though, as grandma. (even though we just described her like some sort of Teletubby Chef.) Or ajji, ammachi, amamma, depending on which part of the southies you're from.

Anyway, there are some things that soothe the mind, and the soul, and if you’ve ever had Rasam made by said Paati, then you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.

Now imagine all the warmth and comfort of Paati’s Rasam, but with some Whiskey added to the mix. Right? Right?!
Sounds crazy? It is! Crazy awesome, that is. (Although we’re not entirely sure if Paati will approve.)

The Drink

Rasam is a classic South Indian soup-esque drink/curry. Enjoyed with rice and sides like pappad, pickle, podi, chicken fry, mutton fry, beef fry and pretty much every vegetable, this versatile dish also has many different versions.

That’s why you’ll find Tomato Rasam, Garlic Rasam, Ginger Rasam, Mysore Rasam, just to name a few.
Although not a classic form of the dish, the addition of meat and sea-food are also hugely popular and extremely satisfying. (Move over chicken soup! This is the real soul food.)

The Breakdown

Of course, our version is not the dish but the drink. (But all the sides we mentioned previously go great with this. Just, not mixed in it.)

The Permit Room’s version of Paati’s Magic includes the rasam staples—curry leaves, ginger, green chilli, glass rimmed with rasam powder and salt, along with whiskey. 

"Hi Paati!"

"Hi Paati!"

So while it’s still very much a smooth whiskey cocktail, you’ll find notes of that familiar and delicious rasam taste lingering even after you’ve finished taking a sip. Savour it.
And then take another. 

Our Bartender Says

“This drink is our homage to the classic Rasam. No one makes it like grandma does of course, but we hope the little addition of Whiskey more than makes up for it. While the drink has distinct flavours, they aren’t overpowering and complement your food. And even though it’s served cold, the lingering taste of rasam (and the whiskey) warms you up just right!” 

The Five Famous Festival Traditions

Photo from picklejar.in

Photo from picklejar.in

The Shower-In-Your-Sleep

It’s inevitable. Festivals must always begin at unearthly hours, before which you are expected to wake up and take ‘head’ baths. You wake up to some devotional music playing in the background, and to your mum bustling around, who probably woke up two hours before everyone else in the house. 
Over the years, most kids perfect the process of executing all ablutions in their somnambulist stupor, just to catch that extra five minutes of sleep. It's either that, or facing your mother's wrath, which is particularly heightened during these days. And you certainly do not want to mess with Festival Mom.

The Brand-New-For-Festival-Only Clothes

Festivals are also all about the fashunnn. The threadbare tee and shorts make way for some super starched kurtas and mundus/veshtis/panches, while the ladies bring out the bling with mom's saris and jewellery to match. Throw in a side parting, a bindi, and some flowers in the hair, and we've got our kurta khiladis and sari selvies.

The clothes still have that brand-new smell of the store, that mix of starch and excessive air conditioning, along with a little new fabric stiffness to them. But end results are always most pleasing to the eye.

Photo from picklejar.in

Photo from picklejar.in

The Decor

Decorations take up a special place during any festival. It's flowers, flowers, more flowers, fruits and sweets arranged in patterns. There’s also the rangoli, or kolam as it is better know down-south, which is an age-old artistic marvel in itself. The speeds at which these intricate patterns are executed with rice powder, in part meant to be carrying on a keen scientific and mathematical tradition, and also feeding the ants while you’re at it by using a very organic material, is both humbling and fascinating.

You realise just how hard this skill is when you get enthused and attempt it yourself, and end up making a powdery mess.

The Food. Oh, the food!

Saapad, Sadhya, Oota—call it what you must.
It is the undeniable highlight of festivals in the southern half of the sub continent. 
Roll out the banana leaf, cross those legs, (or pull that plastic Nilkamal chair closer to the table) and make sure those hands are clean. (slightly at least.)It’s time to tuck in!
But wait! There’s a process—sweet first, salt a little later, some pickle for touchings, and a veritable river of rice. With a stream of ghee. Obviously.

Anna, more papaad please!

Photo from picklejar.in

Photo from picklejar.in

The Post-Feast Nap

It’s a rite of passage. One must always, after a nice long oota session, take a nap. The duration may vary from person to person, but the nap is always taken. Always. 
Breakers of this tradition are frowned upon most heavily.
Some aunties and uncles are known to be so dedicated to the task that they push the banana leaves in front, wiggle back a bit, and pass out on the spot. It’s an art that requires many decades of dedicated practice.
And the rule is that one must only ever be woken up by the smell of fresh filter coffee. Sigh!

The Money Laundering Scheme (bonus)

Kids might seem overly well-mannered and extra helpful on festival days. That normally bratty devil-incarnate kid of a neighbour seems shockingly innocent and well-behaved. This mystery is easily solved based on the number of relatives around.
A staple of every festival is older family members carrying around loose notes of money to be most generously doled out to younger members for anything from touching feet to slyly slipping some kudix in. Amounts may vary based on the task at hand, and the level of generosity being felt at that point. After a few years of trial and error, kids usually know which relatives to target.

Of course, festivals are about this and so much more. It's about family, story-telling, song and dance, food and revelry.
And even if you're the one that grudgingly wakes up in the morning, complaining about how you can't even see the Sun yet, you can't deny that there's always a certain magic in the air that makes everything worth it.

Fizzy Kosambari

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

Would you just look at those juicy, red, arils?! 

Would you just look at those juicy, red, arils?! 

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 traditional, but with a twist.
Well, this may as well be a salad. But it’s not. If it were on a plate, it might be. But it’s not.
It’s in a glass, and with two very special ingredients that take it to the next level. We don’t think you’re ready for this fizzy, but anyway—presenting the second dizzyingly delightful drink in the 'cutting cocktail' series, the Fizzy Kosambari.

Gimme an F, gimme an I, gimme a Z, gimme yet another Z, gimme a Y...FIIIIIZZZZZZYYYYY!

Gimme an F, gimme an I, gimme a Z, gimme yet another Z, gimme a Y...FIIIIIZZZZZZYYYYY!

The Drink

The Fizzy Kosambari is a gorgeous looking cocktail, that whispers ‘refreshing’ through every drop of condensation that runs down its cool, cool glass. (And onto our coasters, of course!)

You don't have to be a smarty to figure out that there's a little bit of fizz added to a classic salad, but you're probably wondering exactly what. No? Yes? (One post someday on how 'no'  with a '?' can mean 'yes' colloquially.) 
And yes, it has all the ingredients of kosambari, with the exception of two rather important ones.

All condensation on coasters please!

All condensation on coasters please!

The Breakdown

The Kosambari is a classic south-indian salad, made with cucumber, pomegranate arils and grated coconut.
It’s very popular, and you’ll find it served with everything from modest (but delicious) temple fare to over-the-top wedding saapaad.
At The Permit Room however, we throw in a little Soda and Gin. Yup. We took your ajji’s favourite salad, added some gin, threw in a little fizzy, and created what could possibly be the most refreshing cocktail on our menu.
And we haven’t stopped drinking since! Wheee!


Our Bartender Says

“This drink is our go-to refresher. If someone’s looking for something light and tropical, with a little zing, then we definitely recommend this drink.
Plus, it kind of makes you feel like you’re eating salad, while also drinking. Which is precisely what you’re doing. So health quotient, check! And tipsy quotient, also check!"

The 'Evolution' of Bangalore

This here is a little story about a city of an age bygone
And if you're of the talented kind, you can even sing it like a song.

It is a story of a Bangalore we once knew, before it grew. And grew. And grew.

Put together with the help of ingenious illustration and not so witty verse,
we'll let you decide whether this modernisation has been a gift or a curse.

We'll start at the start, and take it from whence,
back when the city was called Pensioner's Paradise, and it actually made sense.

With gentle gentlemen, lovely ladies and fewer street side shady boys (they've always been around.)
It took you less than 20 minutes to get anywhere, and with negligent auto fare.

The streets were smaller but somehow wider, the smiles were fewer but brighter, and evenings at the club meant a drink or two, some housie, and if you felt bold, a little bit of jiving with that cute anglo boy, amidst furious whispering and staring by aunties, who had far too much lipstick on.
(What? You thought this whole thing was going to rhyme? Mad or what?!)

And there were trees everywhere. Everywhere. And consequently everything seemed prettier. Even your neighbourhood aunty. Because, that's what trees do. Apart from sustaining life. They're awesome like that.

Perhaps someone who liked organising things (and making lists) decided to put cute bricks and gates around those trees, and throw in a couple of benches for those clandestine couples. And just like that, this became the Garden City. 
There was so much green, and such a great demand for these cozy benches, that these gardens sprung up everywhere. 
(Jaynagar still represents some of this old school charm, and need.)
And we wore that title of 'Garden City' with much joy and pride.

Of course, where there are gardens and good weather and happy people, there are pubs. (Totally made up that causal relationship. It might require further research.)


The good weather made working a little hard, and if you weren't working, you might as well be drinking, right?
(Plus, what else do you want pensioners to do apart from gardening? Give them a break.)
And so, Pub City was born, and was admittedly a cooler title for the new world. We took it. And we've had everything from Pub World to Pecos, and Tavern to Toit (shameless plug) ever since.

(Breweries would of course make a late entry, in an attempt to refine the palette of the gentry.)

But with pubs, came the public. And paradise suddenly seemed to have a price. Technology seemed to be extending its tentacles, slowly, surely and rather sneakily. It started with that dial up connection, that seemingly modest looking two-storey software office. But that was only the base for a much larger mothership to follow.
(Cue epic scenes from Independence Day and Terminator: 2. But this was more like Skynet (or Satyam) taking over Shanthinagar.)

And boom! People were so caught up with the beauty of this boom, for reason and logic they left no room. (Much like this forced rhyme.)

And then the mothership came. Along with IT company 1, 2, and 100. And we were not ready. It was nothing short of an invasion. Before you knew it, your Iyengar bakery with very best honey cakes was replaced by a cyber cafe, your favourite heritage hotel with fabulous filter coffee was taken over by computer programming offices, and even your nosey neighbour Mrs. Aunty sold that teak dining table she would go on and on about and bought a desktop PC. The takeover was complete. 

It's become Bungled-ooru now, more than anything else. Trees are more hot topics for activism than a place you can sit under on a sunny day and enjoy hearing mynas chirp. (Mynas you only find at the airport now, eating the overpriced airport idlis you wasted, out of your tray).
Heritage buildings exist only in framed photos hung at Corner House (yum) and in snooty clubs with 10-years waiting lists. Lakes are mostly fakes, and even though the roads seems to be getting narrower, the buildings seem to somehow be getting bigger and taller. And nowadays jumping from a plane seems more relaxing and less dangerous, than navigating through Bengaluru traffic. (No jokes, people actually find it therapeutic. And all those people must be from here only.)

People still go to pubs though, to drown sorrows more than anything else, and if you're lucky enough to be in a pub where the music doesn't drown conversation out, you'll hear some sentimental old fool talk about the Bangalore of 20 years ago, the Bangalore of the past, where things weren't this hectic and the pace wasn't nearly as fast. 
And somewhere, a meek voice that can't quite convince itself, will pipe in "But, we still have great weather. No?!"
 

 

Note: All the images here feature the amazing work of the legendary Paul Fernandes, taken from the writer's private collection.

Jil Jil Jigarthanda

THERE ISN'T A PALETTE 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.

Thindi Tales is an attempt to take you one step deeper, the equivalent of getting you to eat meals with your fingers, and hopefully help you appreciate south-indian cuisine in all its gastronomic glory. 

This time, we have some heart soothings, a dish with a rather sweet story—the pretty-in-pink Jil Jil Jigarthanda.

Thanda, thanda, cool, cool.

Thanda, thanda, cool, cool.

The Dessert

You know this one is a classic just by the name—Jil Jil Jigarthanda, deconstructed and all. And it traces its roots to the very hot, the very historical, Madurai. 

The beauty of the Jil Jil Jigarthanda (nope, you can’t say it without the double ‘jil jil’) lies in its simplicity and versatility—you can find it being sold on the streets, where indeed its humble beginnings lie, or find it in a most-happening-modern-take-on-South-Indian-food-pub as well. (Some places come to mind.)

The main ingredient which cuts it apart from the Falooda or other similar coolers is Badam Pisin/Badam Gum (dried sap from the badam tree). The classic preparation of the drink involves milk, kadal paasi (or China Grass for ease of pronunciation) and nannari (sarsaparilla root extract) sherbet. And based on who’s selling, these ingredients are sometimes substituted for a signature taste—sugar syrup in place of nannari sherbet, or with a scoop of ice cream. Is that fancy-pants or what?!

The drink also has a kinky side-story, in that it used to be a popular option as the 'wedding night drink'. If you’ve seen enough old school Bollywood movies, then you can’t have missed the blushing-bride-with-ghoonghat-too-low-to-see-anything-bringing-warm-milk-to-creepy-looking-husband-in-shiny-white-pyjamas trope. Ah, classics!

The reason for this popularity being that jigarthanda contains almonds, which are aphrodisiacs, and well, milk, which is a natural sedative. So, almond to get you in the mood and milk to help you snooze. Hot, and cool, all at the same time! Well done, ancestors!

A Little History

Believed to have been brought into the country by the Mughals, a popular interpretation of the meaning of the name is ‘ something that cools the heart’, a literal translation from Hindi.

Makes sense, because if the Mughals were spending time in Madurai, they would definitely need something to cool their hearts, among other things. Most likely though, that the Muslims in Madurai, who were originally from Hyderabad, just brought the recipe along with them. 
And delighted the hearts of Madurai-ites…umm…Madurites…erm…Madurians…well, people living in Madurai ever since.

Too cool for you, fool!

Too cool for you, fool!

There’s another theory that talks about the name evolving to or from jigar ‘danda’, meaning stick or mace, which may or may not have been connected to Hanuman or Bheema from the Indian epics, Ramayan and Mahabharata respectively. Carts selling the drink sometimes carry a cool illustration of Bheema on the side, lending some credibility to this theory.

There is evidence to support the claim that the glorious drink was brought to our country by the Mughals though—in the Ain-i-Akbari, which is the administrative record of Akbar’s reign (and also a chapter in every CBSE History text), there is mention of a similar drink made of pisin.

We like the literal and ‘cool’ interpretation, involving cooling the heart, a little better. So, let’s run with that ok?

At the Permit Room

In its most classic form, the Jigarthanda contains kadal paasi (make an effort to learn the authentic name, damn it!), milk, some nannari sherbet, and maybe a dash of vanilla essence even. The really cool boys sometimes add some colour also. 

Remember that Badam Pisin we mentioned? 
"At the Permit Room, we rehydrate it into a jelly like texture and use it as the base layer for the Jil Jil. And then proceed to serve you with the deconstructed version which contains  Dulce de leche (slow reduction of sweetened milk that is caramelized), Basil seeds that have been hydrated in water, toasted Pistachio flakes, a quenelle of ice cream, either Vanilla or Pista, which is then topped off with some fried, sweetened rice noodles as a garnish", our Chef says.

And with this, we serve a side of double reduced milk in a choice of two flavours—Rose or Nannari. 

Our version also has another exciting 'shoo shaa' factor to it, which we would explain, but where’s the fun in that?

At the Permit Room, it’s an homage in the form of a dessert, to this endearing drink that started out in the sweltering streets of Madurai and made its way all the way here.

Fun Fact

‘Jigarthanda’ is fast becoming the substitute slang for the appalling ‘chill pill’, the last time we checked. 

Ok. That’s a lie. But we’re trying really hard. I mean, “Jigar thanda, macchi” over “Take a chill pill, bro". Come on!
Help us, won’t you? Some very nascent research tells us that 1200 tweets between 12am-6am should do the trick, to get it trending on Twitter and all. So if you’re going to commit, let us know.
Also, @thepermitroom. Just in case.