Hosur cuisine

Some 6-7 months back my office shifted from a relatively quiet semi-residential lane in Indiranagar to the slam-bang commercial area of Residency Road. This meant that Udupi Vaibhava, situated next to our old office and had served many of us rather well, suddenly lost a bunch of business. We, however, needed something to find something.

On the first day in the new office I visited good ol’ Konark next door for “tiffin” and coffee. Food was good but transaction cost (of sitting down and waiting) was rather high. And then people in office started raving about this “IDC Kitchen” across the road, and a week later I went there for breakfast.

I asked for idli-vaDe, and the first look of the vaDe gave me the jitters – instead of one large vaDe, there were two tiny vaDes, the sort we make at death ceremonies here in Bangalore. The idli looked dense as well. “Oh gosh, this is Tamil-style food”, I thought. And then I found that the sambar was red and sweet, of the kind you normally find in Bangalore. It was a bit of a relief.

Yet, the food was confusing. Some of it was evidently Tamil style (the “pODi iDli” and stuff), but it wasn’t quite entirely Tamil style. The dosé was thin. Chutney was neither thick nor thin. Very very very confusing.

And then a few days later a friend insisted we have breakfast at “Cafe Amudham” in Siddapura, insisting the dosé there was excellent. I didn’t want to have a dosé that day, so I asked for iDli-vaDe, and once again it was insanely dense iDlis, but normal sized vaDes. The sambar was more Bangalore style as well – again massively confusing.

Based on these two data points (and that yet-to-be-sampled data point that is Rameshwaram Cafe), I hereby declare that there exists a new cuisine that I call “Hosur cuisine”. It is basically a mix of Bangalore and classic Tamil cuisines. It is like the chromosomes of the two cuisines having undergone a random crossover (and some mutations), and so different restaurants serving this cuisine have adopted different aspects of the cuisines of the two  states – the style of sambar, density of idli, thickness of dosé, size of vaDe, number of chutneys served, etc.

And recently, having got quite bored of IDC (I’ve pretty much stopped eating there now), I tried the Virinchi Cafe next door to that. They make thick dosés but have drumstick in their otherwise red sambar. Incredibly confusing, and I can say that this is yet another “strand” of the Hosur cuisine crossover.

In any case, I’ve been brewing over this blogpost for a few days now, and then I saw Sandesh’s excellent dissection of Rameshwaram Cafe, and decided it’s time to put this down.

I’m yet to visit a Rameshwaram Cafe – the only one within my orbit is in JP Nagar 2nd phase, but it’s way too close to SN Refreshments to give it a try (and I have breakfast at SN some 2-3 times a week at least!). I suppose that is yet another random crossover of the Bangalore and Tamil food styles .

PS: This blogpost has absolutely NOTHING to do with my grandmother-in-law who is from Hosur

Super Deluxe

In my four years in Madras (2000-4), I learnt just about enough Tamil to watch a Tamil movie with subtitles. Without subtitles is still a bit of a stretch for me, but the fact that streaming sites offer all movies with subtitles means I can watch Tamil movies now.

At the end, I didn’t like Super Deluxe. I thought it was an incredibly weird movie. The last half an hour was beyond bizarre. Rather, the entire movie is weird (which is good in a way we’ll come to in a bit), but there is a point where there is a step-change in the weirdness.

The wife had watched the movie some 2-3 weeks back, and I was watching it on Friday night. Around the time when she finished the movie she was watching and was going to bed, she peered into my laptop and said “it’s going to get super weird now”. “As if it isn’t weird enough already”, I replied. In hindsight, she was right. She had peered into my laptop right at the moment when the weirdness goes to yet another level.

It’s not often that I watch movies, since most movies simply fail to hold my attention. The problem is that most plots are rather predictable, and it is rather easy to second-guess what happens in each scene. It is the information theoretic concept of “surprise”.

Surprise is maximised when the least probable thing happens at every point in time. And when the least probable thing doesn’t happen, there isn’t a story, so filmmakers overindex on surprises and making sure the less probable thing will happen. So if you indulge in a small bit of second order thinking, the surprises aren’t surprising any more, and the movie becomes boring.

Super Deluxe establishes pretty early on that the plot is going to be rather weird. And when you think the scene has been set with sufficient weirdness in each story (there are four intertwined stories in the movie, as per modern fashion), the next time the movie comes back to the story, the story is shown to get weirder. And so you begin to expect weirdness. And this, in a way, makes the movie less predictable.

The reason a weird movie is less predictable is that at each scene it is simply impossible for the view to even think of the possibilities. And in a movie that gets progressively weirder like this one, every time you think you have listed out the possibilities and predicted what happens, what follows is something from outside your “consideration set”. And that keeps you engaged, and wanting to see what happens.

The problem with a progressively weird movie is that at some point it needs to end. And it needs to end in a coherent way. Well, it is possible sometimes to leave the viewer hanging, but some filmmakers see the need to provide a coherent ending.

And so what usually happens is that at some point in time the plot gets so remarkably simplified that everything suddenly falls in place (though nowhere as beautifully as things fall in place at the end of a Wodehouse novel). Another thing that can happen is that weirdness it taken up a notch, so that things fall in place at a “meta level”, at which point the movie can end.

The thing with Super Deluxe is that both these things happen! On one side the weirdness is taken up several notches. And on the other the plots get so oversimplified that things just fall in place. And that makes you finish the movie with a rather bitter taste in the mouth, feeling thoroughly unsatisfied.

That the “ending” of the movie (where things get really weird AND really simplified) lasts half an hour doesn’t help matters.


So for dinner yesterday, among other things, I bought a Baklava. It’s the first time I’m having it and I wonder if I’d be wrong if I were to call it the king of sweets.

Thinking about it, calling the Baklava king may not be all that inaccurate – given that I now think that the Indian sweet Badusha is derived from the Baklava. I haven’t checked anywhere but my guess is that “Badusha” comes from “Badshah” or king, and refers to the Mughal emperors who came from Central Asia.

And the Baklava, we know, comes from the region that broadly includes Turkey and Central Asia.

And I think the reason the Badusha, unlike the Baklava, lacks dry fruits is that it’s usually mass-produced – it’s a common sight at wedding receptions, and costs cannot be allowed to soar. Maybe, you might have South Indian Sweet Shops selling Baklava soon. You never know.

On a side-note I wonder why the Jahangir (Jangri in Tamil – clearly a derivative of Jahangir; imarti in Hindi) is called Jahangir. Wonder if it came to Karnataka in Emperor Jehangir’s time.

Alco Haalu

Does anyone know why the colloquial name for liquor in Kannada is “oil” (eNNe) while the corresponding word in Tamil is “water” (thaNNi)?

Is there some kind of a caste/class origin to it, with me being biased given that most Tamilians I know are upper caste/class, and that there is a different colloquial word that is in vogue among other classes? Because “eNNe” has more of a working-class feel to it (the name, that is), and one that has been appropriated by all sections of society.

While on the topic, I learn that the Gult word for alcohol is medicine (mandu)!! Fantastic!

What is the colloquial name for alcohol in your language, and what does it mean? Put it down in the comments here.

PS: and does anyone know why alcohol bottles are sold in black polythene covers? Never seen these things being used elsewhere so if you see a black polythene cover you know there’s a good probability it’ll contain a bottle of alcohol

Search Keywords for April

As you might have figured out by now, this is a monthly feature on my blog – I collect the most interesting set of search key-phrases that lead to my blog and put them here. Here is this month’s list:

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