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.

Cutting Cocktails

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 as our cuisine fixations.

That’s why you’ll find that fellow who drinks two beers everyday, with one plate of peanut masala that has 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.

First up, the Chill Pill Maadi. Put it, that one!

Pictured here: Coriander Cucumber and coolth. The last one being the most essential ingredient .

Pictured here: Coriander Cucumber and coolth. The last one being the most essential ingredient.

The Drink

This drink is the embodiment of the very purpose of drinking—to chill. 

The name may or may not have it’s origin in the once widely used, and now widely abused, phrase “take a chill pill.” Which pretty much is instructing the person in question, during a potentially volatile situation, to take a pill, which might help them calm down. 

Of course, reactions might backfire with the person punching you in the face for using that phrase in 2016, but at least now you’ve been warned. So, back to the drink then?

The Breakdown

The Chill Pill Maadi is literally the drink to refresh the insides, and help you calm the funk down. 

Just picture it (or look at the photo on the side if you can't)—it has fresh Cucumber (very refreshing!), Pineapple juice (very yummy!), Peach syrup (for that little bit of sweetness! Aww!) and Coriander (because South-Indians garnish everything with either coriander or coconut.)

And then, our magical and most important addition, Vodka. (which makes everything better!)

Our Bartender Says

"It’s a great drink to give the visibly agitated people who come to the bar. Literally, we’ve combined some of the most refreshing juices along with some tasty peach and pineapple notes, which create a bit of a tropical vibe. It just helps people get in the mood. The right kind of mood.
Also, it gives us a kick to say “Chill Pill Maadi” and then present a customer with this drink. It’s gotten us more than a few laughs, not going to lie."

Thindi Tales

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 take the term ‘having your brains fried’ to a whole new level—with the Brain Dry Fry, of course.

Soft insides, with a crispy, crunchy cover, fried to golden brown perfection. 

Soft insides, with a crispy, crunchy cover, fried to golden brown perfection. 

The Dish

This dish definitely isn't for the faint hearted. 
Why you ask? Well, basically because it’s goat brains in a fried cover. But that would be a criminal oversimplification of a classic dish. 

The classic version of the dish is either dearly loved, or highly detested. There is no middle-ground with this one. 
But more on that later. First, a little trivia.

A Little History

The hardcore non-vegetarian will know that the dish itself has been around for a long time now, more commonly known as ‘Bheja Fry’, which literally means ‘fried brains’.

We’d like to think that the chef who first created this had a sense of humour and was punning on the local term for someone ‘who eats your brain’. Or to translate it in a less twisted way, someone who is exceptionally annoying.
But we don’t know for sure. And we probably never will. But one can hope. Because that’s what this dish does—it gives you hope.

Pretty little potlums prepared to perfection.

Pretty little potlums prepared to perfection.

At The Permit Room

While most people enjoy this in a basic form with a slightly gravy-esque masala, our version of the classic is a bit different both in flavouring and presentation. 

Our Brain Dry Fry is a delightful blend of slow cooked lamb brain, combined with a special selection of dry masalas, lovingly stuffed into little ‘potlums’ and then fried till it takes on a very specific, and very gorgeous golden-brown hue.

And then, and only then, is it served to you.

Seriously! The potlums are so pretty, that Potli Baba would be proud. 
(And if you don’t know who Potli Baba is, then we now know that you probably didn’t take Hindi as a second-language. See how smart this dish makes us?)

And it also makes for a perfectly flavoured, non-intrusive accompaniment with your drink. 

 

 

Our Chef Says

"You'll see that our version of the Beja Fry isn’t served as the basic meat and masala presentation that it has come to be known for.

We decided to serve it in little fried pouches, adding a crunchy element to the dish, which doesn’t otherwise exist in the classic version. The crunchiness of the exterior potlum shell perfectly offsets the soft texture of the meat inside.”

Pick up a potlum, and see if you don’t enjoy this new take on a dish that evokes much passion.

 

Fun Fact: The term 'Bheja Fry' has been used from everything to dishes with actual fried brains, to annoying people 'eating your brains', and even as a Bollywood movie name. Which probably involves a lot of people annoying each other. We don't know. You watch it and tell us, ok?!  

* Shout out to Sneha Suhas for the very cool title suggestion. Thindi is Kannada for dish/food/refreshment, and perfect for our little stories. Thanks, macchi! 

Saapad Stories

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.

Saapad Stories 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. 

First up, Mosaranna or Thayir Saadam or as we like to call it—Half A Dozen Curd Rice Memories.

Smooth like cream, with potato crisps for a contrasting crunch, and a little surprise hidden in between. Mmmmm!

Smooth like cream, with potato crisps for a contrasting crunch, and a little surprise hidden in between. Mmmmm!

The Dish

If you've grown up in South India, there's a good chance you've encountered this versatile dish at some point.
In its most basic form, curd rice is simply boiled white rice to which unsweetened yogurt and salt are added.

Of course, additional ingredients can also be added. And most often, they are.
Based on personal preferences and geographical location, you get anything from a  seasoning or 'tadka' of  fried chilli, curry leaves, ginger, cumin seeds and mustard seeds, to more colourful additions of raw mango pieces, raw onion, cucumber, pomegranate, cashew nuts, raisins, and for the more adventurous ones, a mix of all of the above.

A Little History

The dish itself might be one of the oldest ones we have, with mentions of a similar type of dish being found in the Rig Veda.
Just for context, the Rig Vedas are believed to have been composed mostly likely between 1500- 1200 BC. Yup! That's some serious historical and traditional legacy.
And as with anything of old, theories and Old Wives' Tales are bound to catch up. Of the more popular ones, curd rice is believed to cool the body down and is highly recommended by south-indian grandmas as the ideal second course to finish a meal with.
The other popular one being it's good for the brains, so copious amounts will be served to south indian kids especially during exams. 

But folklore and fancies aside, the dish's ability to be relatively neutral in flavouring has made it an ideal pairing with a wide variety of sides. They range from simple ones like tangy pickles and crunchy raw onions, to crispy fried vegetables and heavily spiced pieces of meat. Literally, anything goes!

That's a spoonful of grandma's love right there!

That's a spoonful of grandma's love right there!

At The Permit Room

Our take of this supremely versatile and ancient dish combines all the classic elements that have come to be associated with it, but presented in a totally new way.

Our Chef Says

"You'll see that our curd rice is not in the usual broth-like form—you'll find that we serve it as smooth, creamy spheres, with a sprinkling of potato crisps, and just a hint of pomegranate. (Because nothing says 'Karnataka' like pomegranate in curd rice!)

The idea here was to take something very simple, and very familiar to the South Indian palette, and reintroduce it in a way that no one had seen before."

Go ahead, consume a spoonful, savour it for a bit, and you'll know just why we call it Half A Dozen Curd Rice Memories. 


Fun Fact: The term 'thayir sadam' is also widely used as colloquial slang for super nerdy south-indian boys, with exceptional skills in Math, who would typically be found wearing thick 'soda' glasses and shying away from girls. 



What is a permit room?

What is a permit room?

All names have origin stories, and so do we. And ours goes all the way back to around the time India gained Independence. 

The concept of Permit Rooms first saw the light of day (well, more like the light of dingy bulbs) back when the government imposed prohibition on certain states. One of the requirements, as a result, was that anybody who wanted to buy or consume alcohol, had to obtain a 'permit'. 
This permit had to state that the holder was required to consume liquor for health purposes. (Yeah, right!)

But that was all that was needed. Established for license-holding drinkers, 'permit rooms' were set up all over the country, as stand-alone alcohol addas or as sections in restaurants where alcohol was served. 

Permit rooms used to have characteristic peculiarities like drinks would only be served in six-ounce bottles, and the customers would usually be exclusively male. But we have no such restrictions or trappings of the past. (Ohh yeaah!!)

Technically, the state of Maharashtra is still under prohibition—it's just eased up with the rules over time. That's why, if you go by the books, all alcohol consumers in the state still need a permit. But no one really carries one, and no one actually checks. But don't take our word for it. You can always buy one at any liquor store, or the permit office. 

At our Permit Room, we're just trying to bring together all the uniquely quirky and cultural aspects of South India, with a bit of a throwback to the sophistication of the yesteryears. 

Of course, we'd love to tell you that the entire thing has some connection to some ancient spy agency, requiring some fancy identification and super stylish attire. But no. Regular ID (upon request) and shorts are perfectly fine too. Lungis and flannel vest? Even better! 
But in all seriousness, to get in here, all you need is a good attitude, an adventurous palette, some very best friends and you're set!
Mother promise!