Bengaluru rightfully stakes the claim to being the pub capital of the country. With over 60 micro-breweries, you're never too far from a watering hole.
While the basic beers such as Wit, IPA, Pale Ale and Hefeweizen are on the menu, brewers continue to work on a range of interesting beers from local grains and seasonal fruits. From fine spirits to culinary cocktails and a revival of the classics, the pub and brewery scene in the city has never been more vibrant.
Keeping up with the drinks is the pub grub. Giving stiff competition to the run-of-the-mill masala papads and the OTT dishes is an interesting array of local dishes from different regions of Karnataka, regional fare that was not really considered casual or fine dining worthy all these years.
Quintessential Bangalore man, Suresh T Venkataramana, Executive Chef Aurum Brew Works, discovered the culinary diversity of the state during his travels visiting homes, villages, towns, working with homemakers, grandmothers and some of the finest self-taught chefs in the region. “This research was an eye-opener and we made the effort to commercialise home-cooked food by working on its presentation, but cooking it in its true style,” Suresh says.
So on the menu at Aurum, you will among the starters, Karnataka classics like the Goli Bajji from Mangalore, the Maddur Vade from Mandya and the Menasinakai Bajji (green chilli pakoras) with Girmit (spicy puffed rice) from North Karnataka. Based on seasonality, there is the Belanji rava fry (Indian Anchovy). Among the mains, you have a vast choice like the Menthya Soppina Pappu (Methi Dal), Badanekai Yennai (Stuffed baby brinjals) from North Karnataka and of course a great Pandi curry. Even the dessert section has the Banana Halwa, with jaggery rice crisps, inspired by the temples from the Malnad region. Earning appreciation for the food from people native to these regions is what tells Suresh that he is on the right path with his choices.
Pandi curry with rotti
Kavan Kuttappa, head of creative culinary, Toit and The Permit Room (TPR), spoke to friends and family from all over the state, for ideas to celebrate south Indian cuisine in a fun pub format. “Our menu represents every southern state, and covers coastal and north Karnataka as well as popular dishes in Bengaluru that have stood the test of time,” says Kuttappa.
And so at TPR, you have the Bellary badnekai, an adaptation of an eggplant mash that is popularly consumed in northern part of the state. It is served with Jolada rotti (Jowar rotis). The Bhatkal biryani is made with rice semiya. Kavan found it to be a great idea and does a vegetarian and prawn version of this dish at the pub. The classics of Donne biryani and Pandi curry remain the same, but there are some other dishes which have a twist, like the Chiroti sandwich. Kavan explains, “This is based on a popular wedding sweet which is usually served with warm milk. We decided to make a sandwich of it with some basundi and serve it with mango milk, ice cream and pistachios”.
The other chefs in this story agree with Chef Sandeep Sadanandan, Head Chef, Byg Brewski Brewing Company when he says that the response to the Karnataka-based dishes has been encouraging and they are constantly exploring local cuisine, and including it in its original or even an adapted form. All this, while focusing on local sourcing and support to farmers.
Ragi Mudde and Ragi Papri Chaat at Byg Brewski
“As someone who has grown up eating Ragi mudde and Naati koli as a staple meal, I wanted to introduce this commercially unexploited delicacy on the menu, for everyone to relish,” says Sadanandan. He adds that in dishes like the Malnad pork and Chicken ghee roast, they have incorporated traditional ingredients and worked with original recipes.
Also read: Shriya Shetty's guide to Mangalorean cuisine
The chain of bars, Bob’s Bar in Bengaluru too, places a large spotlight on the regional dishes of Karnataka. The general consensus is that for guests familiar with dishes such as Karavalli Chicken Liver, marinated in green masala, the Mangalorean Pork Chilli Bafat and the Kaal Soup (Trotters Soup), as a tribute to the military hotels of Bengaluru, it is comfort food at their favourite pub. And for those trying it for the first time, it is a discovery of something new.
Featured image: Donne Biryani at Permit Room