The labour of true love
Imli, tucked away off 100 Feet Road Indiranagar, promises to bring you home to familiar flavours and a few forgotten recipes…
How does a cook, someone you’ve never met or even seen during the course of a meal, pull off a stunt like this? How does he feed your brains with memories of your childhood and turn you into one droopy-eyed fan. This is going to remain a mystery for the rest of my life.
As I stared at the lovely yellow walls of Imli, the vegetarian café and restaurant that’s been open only eight days, I forgot that I was in a city different from the one I grew up in. In fact, in about two hours, I had travelled to all the neighbours’ homes in the lane where I grew up, eating their food and catching up with my childhoo
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A simple menu, cooked with utmost focus and passion, Imli, if it doesn’t waver on its standards, will constantly remind you that at the end of the day there is nothing as comforting as home food. Just that in this case, your home food is being served at a restaurant.
The menu touches upon typical dishes available across parts of India and brings to the forefront dishes that we call ‘comfort food’. From the alu and matar samosa, served with the meetha and pudina chutney to the jhaal muri that Bengalis love so dearly — I threw down my defences as I failed to find fault with any of the dishes that evening.
Now who would have thought that the besan cheela, cut into pie shaped slices and served with an aam ka morabba could be so divine? The cheela is typically made either of besan (gram flour) or moong dal (both options available at the restaurant) and is a quick snack and a great way to get some protein into the body. This very desi pancake, slightly crisp, can also be stuffed with onions, if one is looking for embellishments. I went with the besan cheela, stuffed with onions, and with a slice of that in one hand and a bit of the remaining samosa in the other, I noticed that the whole laidback seating of the restaurant adds to the charm quite subtly as conversations from another table don’t quite reach yours and multiple mosquito repellents plugged through out keep those pesky bugs at bay. This whole terrace culture in Bangalore can be so endearing, if you know how to set it right…
For the main course I simply had to try the puris and alu ki sabzi. After being completely disappointed with most of the stuff that are available in Bangalore, greasy fingers and queasy stomach to be specific, I was a little sceptical about one at Imli. But you see, the chef at Imli probably hates greasy food because the puris here are exactly how they should be. Five or six bite-sized, fluffy and served with delicious alu sabzi, chilli pickle (all the pickles here are home-made) and ata ka halwa.
It’s quite amusing how most of us put our capacity to gorge on food to test the minute we find something that exceeds our expectations. By the time we were done with the puris, we felt a bit like stuffed turkeys. But then we also realised that we hadn’t finished the khichdi we had ordered. Now that brings us to the star performer of the evening — the khichdi.
Served with sliced brinjals, fried and topped with a bit of salad — the moong dal khichdi had no potatoes, no peas or any other vegetable that any community across the country adds — it was just dal, and tiny bits of ginger (a must to bring out the flavours), topped with ghee and coriander, apart from jeera, turmeric etc. This version is popular among the Marwari and Bengali communities, especially those who grew up in Calcutta. The dal and rice is first sautéed in an iron wok before being put into a pressure cooker. The result is therefore exemplary!
What to eat
If you’re in time for lunch or dinner, try the curries made with seasonal vegetables, pakodas, lassi, shikanji, annasaru and so on. They use the most typical recipes and the pickles are all made by the owner’s mother-in-law. So you won’t taste commercialisation in your food, at least not yet.
Imli- 204, 5th Main Road, 7th Cross Road, 1st Stage, Indiranagar Call: 40949464
Price: `500 (Meal for two)
(cards accepted. parking available)
* Eat at home
** Nearly there
*** We are going back
***** Steal the chef
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