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.
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.
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."