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.
Some Context Setting
Grab a glass of steaming hot cutting chai, because you’re about to take a trip down memory lane.
(And also because chai is great in general.)
Presenting our take on the legendary South-Indian street-side snack—the Chilli Cheese Bhajji.
Bhajjis are a quintessential part of growing up in the south.
They’re an experience unto themselves, and you’ll find countless people reminiscing about bhajji eating with a level of emotion which might seem odd—until you partake in them yourself.
They’re the Malgudi Days equivalent of street-side food, as far as the nostalgia quotient is concerned. That’s why everyone from a school going kid to their grandparent will have a soft spot for this snack, admitting to it being a guilty pleasure. Particularly on cold, gloomy, rainy days. (Along with some cuddles. Sigh.)
You’ll find ‘bhajji aunty’ or ‘bhajji uncle’ at the corner of most busy streets, their push carts set up with the bhajji oil brought to a boil, batch after batch being eagerly fried for hungry passers-by.
If you stop and take a look, you’ll notice that a majority of this crowd is made up of college goers and office employees, both parties on a quick chai and ‘cuts’ break.
They’ll all huddle around, trying to get the bhajji maker’s ultra-efficient sidekick to take notice and place their order next.
Plus, you’ll need to stop to check out all the variety on offer too—there’s everything from chillies, brinjal, egg, lentils, potato stuffing, to just plain bread.
They’re served bisi-bisi (or hot-hot) on neat squares of newspaper, with a heavy dressing of raw onion and green chutney. And if bhajji aunty or uncle have taken a liking to you and your area boys, they might throw in a few extras. Best!
We do it a little differently at ours.
At The Permit Room
Our mulaga bhajji is generously stuffed with cheese, and after being nicely and properly batter fried, is served with a tamarind chutney.
Yup. We take a comfort food, stuff it with warm cheese, batter fry it with some nostalgia and serve it to you with love. (How's that for extra cheese?)
The cheese perfectly offsets the spice of the mulaga and tanginess of the tamarind chutney.
And whether it’s with tea, coffee, one of our cocktails (Yes, we're back to serving those! Whistle podu!) or just by itself, the Chilli Cheese Bhajjis will leave you super satisfied.
Plus, the weather in namma ooru right now couldn’t be more perfect to sample this one. Come off!
Our Chef Says
"It's all about recreating a classic vibe. We've made it so that it could double as a great appetiser, regardless of setting. The cheese adds a fun texture to this favourite, and is the surprise element for most people who are familiar with the original mulaga bhajji.
Sometimes, people end up telling me their own favourite bhajji stories while having this dish. It's nice."